+ TOP NEED: DRAFT A CORNERBACK IN THE FIRST: We'd love to inexplicably detail why the Bengals will or should select the best player available during the 2012 NFL draft. Since no one can confidently explain the first 16 selections before the Bengals' No. 17 pick, and since best player available is only relevant to a team's needs (if BPA is quarterback, then you don't apply BPA therefore you pick BPA based on your needs, hence needs being the foremost criteria), we'll just go off the assumption of positional needs. And the first preview, in the form of a point/counter-point, for this week before the 2012 NFL draft kicks off on Thursday is cornerback.
Perhaps the position that most of us favor Cincinnati addressing with one of their first-round selections this Thursday. Supportive arguments are actually quite simple and rather straight-forward. The average age of all six cornerbacks currently signed to contracts when Cincinnati kicks off the regular season on September 10, 2012 will be 29.3 years old. Momentarily taking the 25-year old Brandon Ghee out of the equation, considering his chances of the making the team are suspect, and that number increases by almost a year.
Nate Clements and Terence Newman, who will be 33 and 34 respectively at some point this year, are entering the final year of their current contract, as is Adam Jones. Leon Hall is recovering from an injury that requires significant rehabilitation, despite a self-promoted and optimistic recovery. Jason Allen has only started 14 games since 2008, which is the exact same as Adam Jones, who missed the entire 2009 season.
Ask yourself this: Do you feel comfortable walking into the regular season with their current cornerback roster, compounded by the inexperience of Taylor Mays and Robert Sands supplementing the depleted core at safety? Oh, but Reggie Nelson will help. So then you neutralize the team's best defensive back to help aging and declining cornerbacks.
Even if the team selected a cornerback in the first round, and even if that cornerback was allowed to progressively groom with veteran guidance and a controlled integration into Mike Zimmer's defense, that prospect would address a need once again next year, allowing the Bengals to focus on other areas that will suffer an impact with expiring contracts. Linebackers. Oh dear, god. Linebackers.
+ CORNERBACK CAN WAIT ANOTHER YEAR. The Bengals have other needs. And really, it's not like Cincinnati is facing the desperation that they felt last year, selecting a wide receiver and quarterback.
If the team decides to address guard (we still don't see that happening, but even we are wrong.. sometimes) and gives Andy Dalton a new buddy as an outside wide receiver, the Bengals can address cornerback in the second and third rounds, while evaluating the position for next season as, once again, a fairly big need.
By signing Jason Allen and Terence Newman, bringing Adam Jones back to the fold, may have been used for that purpose, strengthening the overall depth and allowing the team options on Thursday, if not the following day as well.
Asking if the Bengals have a desperate need at cornerback is like wondering if you need to refill your gas tank when the tank remains half-full, while only driving across town. You'll be fine without it but eventually you'll need it.