Anybody who has looked at the ridiculously early mocks (any mock that is made before free agency fills some of the ‘team needs’), has seen the Bengals taking a CB in about 94% of them.
Whether it’s been the athletic Gilbert, the technically sound Dennard, or the undersized Verrett, or woefully undersized Joyner, or gifted Roby who struggled last year at times... it’s quite common to find the Bengals taking a CB with their top pick.
This seems to make sense if one looks at the Bengals’ defense at the end of 2013:
Their top CB (Leon hall) ended the season on IR
Their second CB (Terrence Newman) missed the final few games due to injury
The Bengals were forced to start their #3 CB Adam Jones, and their #4 CB Dre Kirkpatrick, who has had his own injury problems in his first 2 seasons as a Bengal (what is it about those ‘Bama 1st round picks and their unproductive first few seasons?)
But is it a done deal?
What arguments can be made for the Bengals NOT drafting a CB early in the 2014 NFL draft?
1. Free Agency. While the Bengals are unlikely to make a big investment in a free agent CB, they have a recent history of filling their CB holes via middle of the road free agents: Clements, Jones & Newman are all examples of this. It’s highly possible that the Bengals grab another average CB in free agency before the draft, and avoid CB early (if not altogether) in the draft.
2. Current Roster. The Bengals currently have all of their top 4 CB’s from last year signed for 2014. Hall, Newman, Jones and Kirkpatrick are all signed for 2014. With 4 competent, warm bodies already in house, who already know the defense, it’s reasonable to think the Bengals go another direction in the draft – especially if they perceive a bigger need at LT or DE.
3. BPA. Historically Marvin Lewis tends to go after a BPA in round 2, but address a need in round 1. But last year showed that he is not afraid to pursue a BPA in round 1. If the "elite" CB’s such as Dennard & Gilbert are gone by pick #24, it’s unlikely that the next rated CB would be the BPA pick. It would be hard to justify taking Roby or Verrett at pick #24 if a much higher rated BPA (such as Ha Ha! or Lewan) is sitting there.
4. Dre Kirkpatrick. He has followed the Andre Smith route of leaving ‘Bama for Cincy while spending the first 2 seasons watching from the comfort of the sidelines. He was drafted in mid round 1, which should indicate that he was perceived as a great talent as his position. If the Bengals feel year 3 is finally his year to show us that he was worthy of his draft status, they may figure Dre & Leon have the CB spot locked up, and there is no need for another CB.
5. Moving on down. With the general perception being that this year’s draft is stocked with tons of talent, and the general perception being that Cincy has no pressing needs, it’s entirely possible that the Bengals’ trade out of round 1 altogether. In which case, they are certainly not drafting a CB in round 1, because they wouldn't have a round 1 pick.