After watching Arian Foster and the Houston Texans thrash the Cincinnati Bengals in last years Wild Card playoff matchup--specifically, a certain dropped interception by a player who recently has, ironically, been dropped--the need for improvement at the safety position was clear. Last Friday the need was made official with the dropping of safety Chris Crocker. With Crocker gone and free agency winding down, the draft becomes the logical solution for filling the void at strong safety. Pro Football Talk's Evan Silva's latest mock draft reflects that exact sentiment.
With their first round selection at No. 17, the Cincinnati Bengals take....
Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
Barron is the top safety prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft class, making him the Bengal's best available option to replace Chris Crocker. Electing to return to Alabama after a phenomenal junior season in which he compiled 75 tackles and three interceptions, Barron put up similar numbers during his senior season in 2011: 68 tackles and two interceptions. For four seasons, two of which ended in BCS National Championships, Mark Barron has been a staple on a dominant Alabama defense.
Barron's stock has steadily risen this offseason. Draft Guru Tony Pauline writes:
...head coach Nick Saban has given him rave reviews. He's being talked about as someone with a passion for football and a prospect who's skills have been underrated.
Mark Barron may very well be the answer to the Bengals constant problems at safety, however, the real question is whether Barron will still be available at No. 17. The Jets, who select at No. 16, have shown serious interest in the Crimson Tide strong safety.
At No. 21, SIlva has the Cincinnati Bengals drafting another member of the National Champions:
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Considering the lack of depth, Leon Hall's health, and Nate Clement's age, it is essentially a foregone conclusion that the Bengals will select at least one cornerback in the 2012 NFL Draft. Kirkpatrick, along with Janoris Jenkins and Stephon Gilmore, has been a popular pick for Cincinnati in many recent mock drafts. While in the same discussion as the aforementioned Jenkins and Gilmore, Kirkpatrick owns the slight edge as he is considered by many, inlcuding Tony Pauline, to be the second bast cornerback in this draft class behind LSU's Morris Claiborne.
Each of these selections addresses defensive needs which must be addressed before the beginning of the 2012 season, however, whether these players will be on the board at No. 17 and No. 21, respectively, is in doubt. If available, do you agree with these selections?