Despite a projection that Cincinnati could go with an offensive tackle, selecting a cornerback in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft realizes a justified conclusion. Leon Hall is coming off a second Achilles injury in three years. Reports appear to indicate a Day One return to training camp this year, just like his return in 2012. You have Terence Newman and Adam Jones turning 36 and 31 respectively while former first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick continues to pace himself as a relative unknown.
For those reasons, many are projecting that Cincinnati goes with a cornerback. Such as three of the four mock drafts at CBSSports.com selecting Oklahoma cornerback Justin Gilbert.
+ Pat Kirwin: "Leon Hall isn't getting any younger and how long can the Bengals go to Adam Jones when there is an injury?"
+ Pete Prisco: "With Leon Hall coming off an Achilles' tendon injury, Cincinnati must get younger at corner."
+ Dane Brugler: "The Bengals have some talented players on the depth chart at cornerback, but need to continue to build depth there. Gilbert has the size, body control and overall speed to hold up on an island at the NFL level."
The only CBSSports.com mock draft that didn't go with a cornerback was Rob Rang, who went with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy at No. 24:
Fans angry at Andy Dalton's disappointing performance in the playoffs might call for a quarterback here but the more likely scenario has the Bengals continuing to build through their defense. With defensive end Michael Johnson looking to break the bank after spending last year with the team's Franchise designation, the Bengals could gamble on the athletic upside of Ealy, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound junior just scratching the surface of his potential.