With Justin Smith likely to remain a Bengal, the need to replenish the defensive end position went from beggars to choosers. We're no longer in the position to find a player that we'll need to make an immediate impact. In fact, there's reason to believe the team won't look at the position in the draft... at all.
First, let's examine the team's defensive ends on the current roster.
|1||Justin Smith||Offered a one-year deal after being franchised. Likely both parties will agree to an extension to reduce a large portion of the cap number.|
|2||Robert Geathers||First Bengals player to record 10 or more sacks in 10 billion years. Rewarded with a long-term deal through 2012.|
|3||Bryan Robinson||Will turn 33 this summer. Completed his tenth NFL season starting every game at left defensive end -- finished with 53 tackles.|
|4||Frostee Rucker||A pre-season shoulder injury put Rucker down for the season. Who the heck knows if he'll be worth a lick. But optimism remains.|
|5||Eric Henderson||An undrafted free agent, Henderson signed on with the Bengals' practice squad. After the season concluded, Henderson was signed to the offseason roster.|
|6||Jonathan Fanene||Injury slowed the Samoan's progress last season. The seventh round '05 draft pick has played in seven games recording six career tackles.|
Now begins the two-sided debate.
One can make the argument that the Bengals shouldn't use a draft pick at defensive end. While not great in their own-right, there's a larger need for players at other positions. The Bengals lost their third round pick by drafting Ahmad Brooks in last year's supplemental draft. So there's a need to maximize their available picks. It also makes you wonder if the team will draft away their first pick to acquire additional picks in later rounds. But would that do anything to improve the current defensive end roster?
And let's be honest, Rucker, Henderson and Fanene are unproven. Get these guys healthy playing a full season in the system and there stands a chance you can find a diamond in the rough. You just never know.
That leads to the other debate. You don't know what you have with those three. Bryan Robinson could be one of the bigger names that gets cut when the roster trims down this preseason -- he has one year remaining expected to make $1.8 million.
So you have three unproven players and another that will turn 33 this offseason.
But here's the point. If you keep all the players at defensive end, you're keeping the same unit that ranked 30th in yards allowed and 17th in points allowed. Is the problem defensive end? Partially. There's also a glaring hole at linebacker and in the secondary. There's a need rebuild everywhere. However, of all the unknowns at linebacker and the expected loss of two veteran cornerbacks, defensive end, to me, doesn't seem like a position that we're in desperate need to rebuild.