Cincinnati’s Center of Attention Come the 2014 NFL Draft

For all its inconsistencies thus far this NFL season should be an impressive one for the Bengals. They possess a young, developing offense, a stabilizing offensive line and an outstanding defense to lead the way; all of which supports this belief. But my love of analysis and college football inevitably leads to predicting the future needs and improvement strategies of the Bengals. They have seven picks in the 2014 draft and there are some areas that will need to be addressed in short order and a few that will be addressed as potential for the future and improvement to their depth.

Defensive Back (2) [Rounds 1-3]

It’s been widely agreed upon that defensive back is a position that the Bengals will need to address. This season the Bengals possess talent at the position but many issues exist. Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy yet and this same issue will probably cause the Bengals to move on from Brandon Ghee following this year, as he becomes a free agent. Terence Newman has been effective but is aging, as is the same with Adam Jones. Leon Hall is the rock but has been injured periodically and I would love to see the Bengals slowly move him to our slot guy permanently down the road, which would require drafting and developing corners soon. Expect déjà vu circa April 2012 when the Bengals draft more than one cornerback in this upcoming draft.

  • Jason Verrett (TCU)
  • Bradley Roby (OSU)
  • Pierre Desir (Lindenwood)

Center [Round 2-3]

Andy Dalton and the running game have suffered recently due to the declining production from the center position. Kyle Cook is aging and so is his effectiveness. Trevor Robinson showed some promise last year while replacing Cook and TJ Johnson is still on the practice squad but an improvement is needed. The struggle to run up the middle and get those tough yards puts more pressure on Dalton, as does the opposing rush coming straight up the middle. Solving these two issues will allow Dalton to relax and mature while improving our running game and effectiveness on third and short. This team needs to control the clock and pound the football giving their defense a rest and allowing Dalton to manage the game more than win it throwing the football 30-40 times.

  • Travis Swanson (Arkansas)
  • Hroniss Grasu (Oregon)

Defensive End [Round 1-4]

The play of Wallace Gilberry and the drafting of Margus Hunt all but solidify Michael Johnson’s exit via free agency following this year. The Bengals can’t keep everyone and the money can be spent on other key players. Keeping the commanding four-man rush they have is key to their defense allowing many others to focus on pass coverage and run stoppage versus having to blitz or commit a fifth and sixth guy to get a push. The Bengals can do so seemingly without Johnson while keeping their depth with another draft pick. They will already have a great seven-man rotation and Geathers’ return will make eight but his injury and age will make replacing him necessary in the near future.

  • Stephon Tuitt (ND)
  • Kareem Martin (UNC)
  • Ben Gardner (Stanford)
  • Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas)

Safety [Round 5-7]

At first glance, the safety position looks to be solid having been addressed last year but there is a couple rationales to address this position. First Reggie Nelson is 30 and can’t go on forever. Finding a future replacement now would ease the transition away from Nelson later. More importantly safeties seem to be making good nickel linebackers lately and having depth at the position can start to assist in stopping the ever-increasing talent level of tight ends in the NFL. Shawn Williams is a promising prospect and I’ve never had so much faith in Taylor Mays as I have lately while he continues to be effective as the Bengals de facto nickel linebacker. The NFL seems to be moving in a direction where both safeties may start looking more like strong tackling, ball hawking free safeties. At present the Bengals possess two of these in Reggie Nelson and George Iloka. The long-term depth consists only of Shawn Williams who still needs marked improvement in coverage while possessing great skills in the box. Taylor Mays has proven to be to inconsistent in coverage while at safety and Chris Crocker is really a year-to-year guy so increasing the depth should be a priority.

  • Jeremy Deering (Rutgers)

Quarterback [Round 5-7]

Here comes the controversy, but allow me squash it quickly. Andy Dalton will be the quarterback next year. He deserves a chance to play out his contract. He works hard and his teammates play hard for him; if they didn’t believe in him then there would be a fraction in the locker room. That shouldn’t stop the team though from taking advantage of having depth at nearly every other position and a very deep quarterback class in 2014; a match made in heaven. Look for the Bengals to draft a quarterback to develop behind Dalton and improve their quarterback position.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
  • Jeff Mathews (Cornell)
  • Brett Smith (Wyoming)

Guard [Round 5-7]

You can never have enough quality offensive linemen and with backup Mike Pollack becoming a free agent, guard depth should be sought after. The Bengals should retain Anthony Collins during free agency as he has been key to solving injury woes on the line and when the Bengals sure up the center position early in the draft the last place to solidify will be guard. This line can be completed across the board with a solid late round pick for depth ensuring this offense will always be anchored by a talented, deep offensive line.

  • Ryan Groy (Wisconsin)
  • Andrew Rodriguez (Nebraska)

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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