It's that time of year again when those who think they know what team is going to select what college player in the NFL Draft. We all know it is subjective, some may get it right, and others will totally screw it up. Considering that it is only February and the draft is over two months away, those who do publish a mock draft will have to change it as players will "shoot up the draft board" or because teams will make free agent signings that may change the focus of the draft. Since the Internet is the most powerful tool to research those mock draft boards, I decided that I would take an early look at some of the different mock drafts and who they think the Cincinnati Bengals will pick.
In doing my research, I did use a criterion that the Bengals need offensive line help and they probably would move in that direction, so I did not focus on those mock drafts. While doing the research, I did notice that most of the mock drafts did have the Bengals picking an offensive lineman, but the few who thought the Bengals should draft another way are published below along with either a scouting report or their comments.
The New NFL Draft website had the Bengals picking Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou with the following comment: "The Bengals could go one of many ways here but with them probably losing TJ "whoseyourmama" I think they go with a play maker. Maclin is going to run a good 40 in the 2009 NFL Draft Combine and he is one of the top rated WR's in this class. Look for him to be the second WR taken in the 2009 NFL Draft." They consider "Maclin a game changing player. He can both run the ball and catch the ball for 6 on every play. Look for him to be a great play maker in the NFL." My opinion - I don't think the Bengals need another receiver when the pressing need is to protect the individual who delivers to ball to the receivers.
FFToolbox.com writer Forrest N. Long has the Bengals taking Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State. His reasoning - "The Bengals seem to have confidence in Marvin Lewis' coaching abilities, although no one else does, so it looks like Lewis will be back for another year. While the offense struggled in 2008 mainly due to QB Carson Palmer's injury, the Bengals are still lacking a top RB to their offense to replace Rudi Johnson, and the home state pick of Ohio State's Chris Wells will be a very popular pick in Cincinnati. Wells is a big, bruiser back at 6-1, 225 pounds, who can still break off long runs." Mr. Long's scouting report states that person "Chris "Beanie" Wells is an elite running back prospect. Former Ohio State great Archie Griffin recently said that he thinks Wells is the closest thing he's ever seen to Jim Brown. Wells is the most physically gifted running back in this class. At 6'1" and 237 pounds, Wells still reportedly runs the 40 yard dash in the 4.4 second range." This is just a small portion of his scouting report, if you wish to see the rest, just click on the link above. But in order for a running back to be effective, the offensive line needs to provide the avenues that the running back can break through. The overall yards per carry for the Bengals this past season was less than 4.0 yards, which will not gain the respect of opposing defenses and shows a lack of consistent offensive line play.
The College Football News website also thinks the Bengals will pick someone for the defensive line. Their pick is Brian Orakpo, DE Texas. They state "The Bengals will snap up (Linebacker Aaron) Curry in a heartbeat if he falls. If not, Orakpo would be too good a pass rusher and an all-around playmaker to pass up. His workouts are going to be the buzz of the draft." They may be right with the idea about getting a good pass rusher for the d'line, but I don't see much room for another linebacker unless some are lost to free agency.
The NFL Draft Dog also believes that Aaron Curry, Wake Forest will fall to the Bengals. The barking on the street, according the NFL Draft Dog: "Curry is just flying up the draft boards. He is a very explosive, talented linebacker with nice size (6' 3" 247 lbs). Winner of the 2008 Butkus Award." Flying up the draft boards does not mean the player will be able to compete at the NFL level.
Fox Sports says that the Bengals will pick B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College. They state that the "The Bengals wanted to land USC's Sedrick Ellis last year, but the Saints moved up and snagged him. Raji's no consolation prize. A beast at DT, he's the real deal and had a fantastic Senior Bowl week in Mobile. Cincinnati's D started to gel a bit toward the end of last season; throwing a run-stuffing clog in the middle will only help them in '09 and beyond." They were the only site that recognized the defense coming together which continued to improve on the finish from 2007.
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated likes the Bengals to pick Brian Orakpo. He states that "The Bengals could really use help at offensive tackle or running back, but their need for an impact defensive end probably trumps everything. "O-Sack-Po" is the consensus top-rated end, and his blend of speed, size and athleticism earned him both the Lombardi Award (nation's best lineman) and the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player)." I do agree with the Bengals needing defensive help. But the need to avoid hearing "O-Sack-No" is prevalent - a pick of an offensive lineman would provide more of an impact.
This is just a sampling of the number of mock draft boards available. A number of them do support the need for offensive line help being the most necessary focus of this year's draft for the Bengals. There are those that think the Bengals will go in a different direction and place their focus on an area that doesn't require the attention. But as I daydream and yearn for the Bengals to have new ownership, the realization is that Mike Brown is still calling the shots and these few may have some inkling as to what we can expect come draft day.