SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn sat in on a conference call with ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper on Wednesday and was able to Tweet out some nuggets involving the Bengals, specifically at the running back position.
First, Kiper mentioned former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, saying that he doesn't think there's a way the draft's top back falls out of the first round. He specifically mentioned the Bengals as one of the team's that is likely interested in using a first-round pick on him.
Another running back the Bengals have been linked to is North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, who would be more of a complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis than Lacy would be. Kiper believes that Bernard is a third-round pick.
Kiper mentioned Jonathan Franklin and Gio Bernard as 3rd round picks. Mentioned Christine Michael as a 4th-5th round back.— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) April 10, 2013
There's no question that the Bengals need help at the running back position. Green-Ellis is good as a short-yardage back and in the red zone but he's not a home run threat. The Bengals have said that they're looking to draft a running back in the upcoming draft but it's unclear how high on their list of priorities running back is. They also need a linebacker, a safety and possibly a new right tackle. Considering the other needs, it's hard to see the Bengals using their first-round pick on a running back like Lacy when guys like Kenny Vaccaro, Alec Ogletree or D.J. Fluker may be on the board. If Bernard is truly a third-round pick, he could be the best fit, especially considering he's more of a complement to Green-Ellis than Lacy is.
There are other running backs to consider as well, like Jonathan Franklin and Andre Ellington. Both could be complements to Green-Ellis' style and could be had after the first round. Luckily for the Bengals, this year's draft class is deep where they need it to be deep. There are good safeties, good offensive tackles, good linebackers and good and versatile running backs.
The draft is just a couple weeks away. If the Bengals make smart moves, especially with their early picks, they can put themselves in good position to head to the playoffs for the third year in a row.