A staff writer of the Oxford Press gave his top-seven needs that the Bengals need to address this weekend -- yes, the NFL Draft is this weekend. YES, this weekend! We're not sure if this list is based on need, or simply brainstorming. The list goes, Offensive Tackle, Defensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, Defensive End, Center, Middle Linebacker and Running back.
Defensive Tackle I understand, we need run stopping power over the middle. Defensive End I understand, our two highest paid bookends are pass rushers -- we lack that do-it-all-on-every-down type of guy. Wide Receiver I understand, we lost our #3 receiver and, a raise of hands, how many believe that Chad will actually be in uniform? Center I understand, we bemoaned it when Eric Ghiaciuc struggled against intra-division nose tackles -- welcome Shaun Rodgers.
Middle Linebacker, I can understand, but think it's a stretch. Ahmad Brooks and Odell Thurman can handle the position without the need to stockpile the position. What we need is an outside linebacker to replace (actually, improve) after Landon Johnson moved his tackles to Carolina.
Offensive Tackle? Even if I tried really hard, I can't envision it. Not because of the money of one multiple Pro Bowl tackle nor an alternate. It's not because of the franchised offensive tackle that doubles as guard or a backup signed through 2009 with plenty of game experience. Nor do I believe that the team is having a problem "protecting Carson Palmer" after Palmer was sacked only 17 times.
Even if the argument is made that the team needs to think youth, they already have it -- Andrews and Andrew Whitworth will turn 27 this year. Now if we talk guard, I'm totally on board.
I don't believe that the team is under any urgency to draft a running back. It would be nice to have a game breaker, no doubt. And god knows that we're well acquainted with Chris Johnson (wouldn't he seem like a good third-down option that can return kicks?).
It wouldn't surprise me if the team shifts running back personnel. If history dictates analysis, then we know that Chris Perry won't stay healthy and Rudi Johnson's numbers will continue to slide. There's no telling if Kenny Irons will ever recover, especially for 2008 -- which I've heard/read isn't a sure-thing. It could be really bad.
But it also could benefit the team to take a sit and wait approach. Imagine if Rudi Johnson returns stronger than ever. Imagine if Chris Perry recycles his 2005 performance. Imagine Kenny Irons backing up both. Simply put, it's an optimists scenario.