This year's draft is going to be exciting. For the first time in a few years, most really have no clue what the Bengals are going to do with their first-round pick. CBS Sports' latest string of mock drafts is a perfect example. Four different analysts came out with a new first-round mock draft and all four made four different picks for the Bengals.
Rob Rang decided to give the Bengals an offensive tackle to replace Andre Smith.
Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State: The Bengals have allowed incumbent starting right tackle Andre Smith to languish in free agency and may be looking for a potential replacement via the draft. Watson does not possess Smith's mass but does offer freakish athleticism. Given the early run on offensive tackles, offensive line coach Paul Alexander's reputation as one of the league's best developers of talent and the Bengals' potential need at the position, Watson makes a lot of sense.
If the Bengals are unable to re-sign Smith by the draft on Thursday, the safest move may be to decide to replace him with the team's first round pick. Both D.J. Fluker and Menelik Watson could be capable right tackles in the NFL and it would actually be a cheaper option than re-signing Smith to a long-term deal.
Dane Brugler selected Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro with the No. 21 overall pick.
Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas: Assuming the Bengals are able to re-sign right tackle Andre Smith, the Bengals focus will likely shift to defense with this pick. Cincinnati needs to find a safety to pair with Reggie Nelson and Vaccaro would give them versatility against both the run and pass.
Vaccaro is considered the best safety in this year's draft class. However, the closer we have gotten to the draft, the more it seems analysts believe Vaccaro won't be on the board when the Bengals go on the clock. However, if he is, he may not only be the best fit for the Bengals, but the best player available overall.
Pat Kirwan decided to give the Bengals Alabama running back Eddie Lacy with the 21st pick.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: Not many think Lacy is going in the first round but last year three running backs did go in the first round, and played well. The Bengals will have a dangerous offense with Lacy behind Dalton. If Fluker is still on the board they could easily take him and come back for a back with the next pick.
The Bengals are looking for a complement for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but the complement they're searching for is someone who can take over for BJGE should the need arise. Lacy is considered this year's top back and not only has the power to run between the tackles, but can break off long runs as well. However, this year's draft class is very deep and talented and the Bengals could find a talented back in the second or third round.
Finally, Pete Prisco selected safety Jonathan Cyprien for the Bengals in the first round.
Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International: The back end is a problem at times for a good defense.
Cyprien has been a popular pick as many analysts believe the Bengals will take a safety but they believe Vaccaro will be off the board when they go on the clock. Cyprien may be a better run defender than Vaccaro but won't likely be quite as good in pass coverage. Either player would be a major upgrade for the Bengals, though.