Bengals Should Avoid Linebackers High in NFL Draft

David Kohl-US PRESSWIRE

The Cincinnati Bengals have gotten great production from linebackers who were undrafted or cheap veterans signings. But when they've spent high draft picks on that position, the results have not been good.

Once again, the Cincinnati Bengals will likely be looking to upgrade their linebacking unit this offseason for a variety of reasons. With James Harrison on his last legs and potentially even retiring, there will be a need for more depth at outside linebacker.

The same goes at middle linebacker if Vinny Rey isn't brought back. The restricted free agent should be tendered by the Bengals, but if a teams signs him to an offer sheet the Bengals can't match, that will leave an even bigger need for another backer.

Regardless of what happens with those two, the Bengals shouldn't look to draft a backer high in this year's NFL Draft based on their lack of success drafting at that position.

Here's a look at every linebacker drafted in the Marvin Lewis era:

Year


Round


Pick


Name


Last Year in NFL


College

2013

4

118

Sean Porter

2013

Texas A&M

2012: No Linebackers Drafted

2011

3

66

Dontay Moch*

2013

Nevada

2010

4

131

Roddrick Muckelroy

2012

Texas

2009

2

38

Rey Maualuga

2013

USC

2008

1

9

Keith Rivers

2013

USC

2008

7

244

Angelo Craig

Never on active roster

Cincinnati

2007: No Linebackers Drafted

2006

5

157

A.J. Nicholson

2006

Florida St.

2005

1

17

David Pollack

2006

Georgia

2005

2

48

Odell Thurman

2005

Georgia

2003

5

136

Khalid Abdullah

2003

Mars Hill

2004

3

80

Caleb Miller

2007

Arkansas

2004

3

96

Landon Johnson

2010

Purdue

*Played as a LB and DE

What's amazing about this list is that all of those players combined to play 291 games average of 24.25 games. That means for every linebacker the Bengals have drafted, they didn't even "play" two full seasons worth of games, and only six of those players ever started a game.

But where the Bengals have failed in drafting linebackers, they've done well at finding undrafted players to come in and play significant snaps and even start. Vincent Rey, Dan Skuta, Vontaze Burfict, Emmanuel Lamur and even Rashad Jeanty were undrafted linebackers who started at some point for the Bengals.

Burfict is now one of the best linebackers in the NFL now, and Lamur is expected to be a key part of this defense in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 season.

Whatever it is with the Bengals scouting department and how they view linebackers, they've managed to find some quality players after the draft is over and in free agency.

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