There's always a question in Cincinnati (and others, I'm sure): do you draft the best available or do you draft on need? I believe the Bengals did both. I believe both Hall and Irons were, in their minds, the best available. Then I think the Bengals drafted based on need on day #2. Draft superstars and starters during day #1. Depth-building guys during day #2.
However, specifically thinking, I think that this draft can be surmised into two words: building depth. Leon Hall is likely the only guy that will start in 2007. The rest are talented guys that will replace the back-end of the depth chart at their respective positions.
BEST PICK: Leon Hall
Not because it's the first pick -- that will obviously be your best drafted player when looking at whom you drafted Sunday night -- but because the Bengals were able to address both a need and draft the best player available. Teaming up with Jonathan Joseph, the Bengals have an optimistic future of two, potential, shut-down cornerbacks. Add the hope that Deltha O'Neal rebounds to his 2005 form, the Bengals secondary could be scary good. Madieu Williams is a very talented safety and Dexter Jackson proved to be a vocal leader on the defense (see Marvin White below for additional depth). On that selection alone, the Bengals defense has improved.
MOST INTRIGUE: Kenny Irons
Most agree that the Bengals needed to address the depth at running back. But perspectives are different. On one hand, people make the justified argument that Chris Perry's time here is done. He's not dependable because his body is made of glass. I, myself, have thrown my arms up in the air with Perry. On the other hand, if Perry returns and remains healthy, Irons could be a significant upgrade over Kenny Watson. No matter how you look at this, the Bengals definitely strengthened their running back position.
THE REPLACING THE REPLACEABLE: Marvin White, Dan Santucci
With Marvin White and Leon Hall, the Bengals are telling you something. They are changing the complexion of this defense into a nasty bunch of bone-crushing guys. Did the pass defense get resolved here? I think it's an upgrade. But I'm thinking, between White and Hall, that the Bengals defense will be as physical as ever. Not only do I think White will replace Kevin Kaesviharn; but I believe, in time, White will be better.
Dan Santucci was the offensive linemen this team required to fulfill depth issues. With Santucci, the Bengals will actually have experienced guards at backup. This selection, most likely, moves Stacy Andrews out to tackle giving all backups specific assignments to study at a single position. Could the change of having multi-dimensional offensive linemen be a result of a disappointing 2006 season? I think that case could be made.
SURPRISE: No Tight End
It was surprising that the team didn't address tight end. It makes you wonder, after the fourth or fifth rounds, that the team didn't see anyone worth using that pick for. So IF the talent pool of tight ends is relatively the same around the fourth round compared to the undrafted pool, then why not address other areas that would be more difficult to address after the draft? More to the point, the Bengals only need a blocking H-Back and a guy that plays Special Teams. It shouldn't be too hard to find that in the undrafted pool.
NEEDED YOUTH MOVEMENT: Matt Toeaina
Is the defensive tackle from Oregon the answer among a group of aging defensive linemen? Check this out. Here's a bit of analysis:
...is a good athlete with the quick feet to defeat one-on-one pass blocks and get pressure on the quarterback.
Has adequate initial quickness and flashes the ability to beat blockers to the point of attack.
The first is analysis on Domata Peko from NFL.com last season. The second is Matt Toeaina from ESPN.com. The difference between the two is that Peko was described as having a higher ceiling. Regardless, the Bengals are approaching defensive tackle in the draft with speed and athleticism. Always a question mark for young defensive tackles is size. But I don't envision Toeaina or Peko being a starter -- other than injury to existing starters -- anytime soon (even if Thornton or Adams leaves).
BIGGEST (maybe) REACH: Jeff Rowe
DuVols says, the Bengals might have been able to find similar talent later in the draft. Even so, I'm not 100% convinced. After Rowe, only three quarterbacks were drafted. The Bengals weren't going to draft Carson Palmer's little brother, Jordan. They weren't going to draft a quarterback with the style of Troy Smith. And I'll be honest, I have no clue who Tyler Thigpen is. ESPN.com ranked Jared Zabransky, Tyler Palko and Chris Leak ahead of Rowe, but they went undrafted. However, there's a justified argument that their style doesn't match the Bengals schemes therefore the team wanted to get the guy that best fits the offense in the hopes to have a backup quarterback for a period longer than one-year contracts. If that's the case, and the draft war-room dictated similar discussions, then I wouldn't call it a reach. Is calling this a reach pick, a reach in itself? You decide... because I'm not so sure.
What did you guys think? Reaches? Perfection? Let's here it.