The Bengals' 2013 offseason is just a few days in, but we here at Cincy Jungle have been frequently asked on who we think the Bengals will draft this year. Joe Goodberry is our resident draft expert and he took a crack at his first round mock draft for the entire league, but what's an NFL site without multiple takes on the draft?
We go through the first three rounds of the Bengals' draft here, which contain four picks. The Bengals are afforded a high pick in the second round, thanks to the Oakland Raiders and the lucrative Carson Palmer trade from 2011. Keep in mind that it's still early and there is a lot to be sorted out with the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine, and we also need to see which players that they retain in free agency, but there's a lot of tape on these prospects to get a grasp on things.
Going on past history, head coach Marvin Lewis likes to go after players from big programs that have been successful. Even though there is a lot of talent on the roster right now, there are still a few glaring holes. For now, we will give you the picks as we see them, as well as an alternate pick at each spot. We go through the first three rounds as those seem to usually be the highest impact players in a draft.
Round 1, Pick 21: Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State: This kid has a lot going for him and could have a very bright future in the NFL. He's got quite a few skills that both Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer like in their cornerbacks: size, press-man coverage skills and above-average tackling ability. Get this comparison from WalterFootball: "a player who is similar to Rhodes is Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick".
Seeing as how Kirkpatrick was injured most of last year and ended up on Injured Reserve, along with both Brandon Ghee and Shaun Prater, the move makes sense. Throw in the fact that Terence Newman and Adam Jones are impending free agents, Jason Allen was a total 2012 free agent bust and Nate Clements has seemed to have worn out his welcome, and you'll see why the Rhodes pick makes sense. The last time that the Bengals took cornerbacks in the first round in back-to-back drafts was in 2006 and 2007 with Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. We can say that that worked out well for the team.
Alternate Pick: Manti Te'o, linebacker, Notre Dame: Te'o's flaws were exposed in the BCS National Championship game, but that was more of an aberration than what kind of a player that Te'o actually is. Most people had the misconception that Te'o was the next Patrick Willis., when in fact the truth is that he's solid--not spectacular. Some think that Te'o could play a couple of different linebacker positions because of his ability to defend the pass (he had seven interceptions this year), though his natural spot is in the middle.
With the Bengals potentially having an opening in the middle with Rey Maualuga's departure, Te'o could be their guy if he's there. He'd be an upgrade from Maualuga and should go anywhere in the second half of the first round. A starting lineup consisting of Te'o, Vontaze Burfict and potentially Emmanuel Lamur is an intriguing thought.
Round 2, Pick 37 (From Raiders): Eddie Lacy, running back, Alabama: Yes sir--jump on the Lacy train. He's just another tough back from 'Bama that can be a workhorse for a pro team. Lacy's stock skyrocketed after his showing in the BCS Championship, where we saw him run over, through and around a stout Irish defense. Truth be told, he's not a burner, but he could be a solid NFL starter in the future. Some think he's boosted himself into the first round after his big game, but I think that that's high for him.The Bengals have three impending free agent running backs, so they'll need to address this position early.
Alternate Pick: Andre Ellington, running back, Clemson: I think it's a bit high for Ellington here, but if he lights it up at the Combine and his Pro Day, he could climb a bit. he Bengals need speed at the position, and Ellington is one of the faster backs in the draft. Regardless, I'm of the mindset that the Bengals will be drafting a back highly in this year's draft, be it Lacy, Ellington, or someone else.
Round 2, Pick 53: Robert Woods, wide receiver, USC: Yes, the Bengals invested two picks in the position last year and yes, both Mohamed Sanu (third round pick) and Marvin Jones (sixth round pick) appear to be headed towards good careers. However, both battled injuries that forced them to miss significant time in 2012 and the No.2 wide receiver position is still unsettled. With Armon Binns gone and Brandon Tate possibly looking for another job, an opening for another capable wideout should be available.
Most people overlook Woods because of the attention given to Marquise Lee, but the fact is that Woods is the more reliable receiver. I've watched a lot of USC football and I have made the prediction that Woods was going to be one of the best No.2 wide receivers in the NFL. His stats back it up over his past three seasons: 252 receptions, 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns-111 of those receptions came in one year alone (2011). Even though he's only 6'1 and 190 pounds, Woods makes the tough receptions across the middle and is very good after the catch. He also brings return ability, which is an added bonus and could help with the potential loss of Tate. In truth, we could see my predictions of the Lacy and Woods picks flip-flop.
Alternate pick: D.J. Fluker, offensive tackle, Alabama: Fluker might be a product of a line consisting of talent everywhere, but he has 35 career starts at right tackle. He's huge at 335 pounds and comes from a long line of solid Crimson Tide blockers. The only way that the Bengals grab a tackle here would be if Andre Smith left in free agency and would need another big body to replace him. He was a second-team All-American, first team All-SEC and a Walter Camp finalist. Get this: according to his Crimson Tide profile page, Fluker nailed 98.6% of his blocking assignments in 728 plays.
Round 3, Pick 84: Bacarri Rambo, Safety, Georgia: This one either screams "steal" or "reach". Rambo is a playmaker, but he's a bit undersized at 6'0" and 205 pounds. Still, the guy makes plays and had 16 interceptions at the safety position, with eight of those coming in 2011. The Bengals don't discriminate at the safety position and interchange the roles of the free and strong safeties. Additionally, the Bengals are in desperate need of a player who can cover tight ends and running backs. Rambo has the ability to keep up with those kind of players. His size and decline in production as a senior drop him a bit.
Alternate Pick: T.J. McDonald, safety, USC: As you can see, I think that round three is where the Bengals address safety. It just depends what kind of safety they covet. McDonald is the type of safety that would fill the void left by Chris Crocker, and if he came out last year, he would have been a high pick in the second round. unfortunately for Trjans coming out in the draft this year, they will get knocked for the team's disappointing campaign in 2012.
For those cringing at the thought of the Bengals taking another USC safety, he's the opposite of Taylor Mays. While Mays has the freak athleticism, he doesn't have the instincts to play the position. McDonald has much better instincts, but doesn't have elite athleticism. McDonald likely has a decent to solid pro career ahead of him, but nothing spectacular. Either way, the Bengals need some stability back at safety.