Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
We're taking a moment to examine each position on the Cincinnati Bengals roster and forecasting possible outcomes for free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft.
Signed In 2013: Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jason Allen, Shaun Prater, Brandon Ghee, Chris Lewis-Harris, Taveon Rogers
Free Agent: Nate Clements, Adam Jones, Terence Newman
Despite Dre Kirkpatrick's injuries that impacted his rookie season, cornerback was a strength last season. Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Adam Jones were dependable cornerbacks, all of whom held their respective opposing quarterback rating below 82 points.
Leon Hall generated only two interceptions during the regular season, but both were critical in their respective games. Down 13-10 with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter, Hall intercepted Nick Foles deep pass down the left sidelines. Cincinnati's offense scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession and the Bengals went on a 24-0 run to end the game, beating the Eagles 34-13. During the following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hall anticipated and picked off a Ben Roethlisberger pass, returning it for a touchdown to give Cincinnati an early 7-0 lead -- it would be the Bengals only touchdown of the afternoon. Hall followed that up with a pick-six against the Houston Texans during the playoffs.
According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, Adam Jones was the team's best cover cornerback, generating a 9.9 score, which also ranked No. 6 in the NFL. Though he didn't record an interception, quarterbacks targeted receivers Jones covered 66 times, allowing only 54.5 percent to be completed.
Free Agency: We don't figure that the Bengals will be heavy spenders in free agency, especially at cornerback. However we figure that the team will make an effort to re-sign Adam Jones and even Terence Newman. Based on his significantly declining playing time in the second half of 2012, Clements probably won't return but the Bengals may add him for insurance anyway because of his experience at safety (hopefully he improves).
NFL Draft: It's entirely possible that the Cincinnati Bengals select another cornerback within the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL draft, which depends entirely on how free agency pans out. The key point here is that the Bengals tend to play five-defensive back formations more than 50 percent of the time and having 3-4 stud cornerbacks is becoming a necessity rather than a luxury.