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Sunday afternoon links and notes; more drum-banging of OT and C in the draft, a Sam Wyche update and Eric Wood

I think mock drafts are great for discussions and debates; even though crack addicts suggest the Bengals should draft a quarterback in the first round because Carson Palmer isn't the elite quarterback he used to be, and apparently elite super-stud quarterbacks are always available in the draft. Typically I shy away from actually conducting mock drafts for several reasons. One, I don't know other teams well enough to suggest that I know their needs; especially beyond the first round. Two, I don't know, nor have I seen, every eligible player in the draft. Likely, there will be several players in the first round that I haven't seen play and my basic understanding is relied on the likes of Kirk Herbstreit, or the billions of awesome draft websites that describe a player enough for a basic understanding.

With that said, I'm much more interested in ranking positions that the Bengals will draft. We'll have more than seven picks with additional compensation picks, so we can't really predict the slotted spots in the draft. Like I said Saturday, I will bang the drum, perhaps annoyingly, my enthusiasm that the Bengals still need to address the offensive line first and foremost. Skill players are great, and we do need some. However, they're pointless if the basic understanding of trench warfare goes unregarded.

I solidly rank the Bengals needs in the draft with offensive tackle and center going in the first and second rounds. I'm so persuaded with this attitude, I'm strong-headed, bull-headed, nearly unwilling to shift my opinion. But it is just that, an opinion. For a while I entertained drafting a defensive player in the first round, perhaps a middle linebacker eventually replacing Dhani Jones. Picking up one of the defensive ends because of a sorely needed pass rush is another spot that I've really liked. However, based on the contracts with Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom, I just don't see it. That's not to say they don't need it badly, they do; I just don't envision the Bengals having three big contracts at defensive end while inheriting the league's worst offense.

My top-five (subject to change whenever I feel like it)

  1. Offensive Tackle - After receiving much of the blame for a disastrous 2008 offense, the offensive line needs to be rebuilt with guys that are long-term visions for the position -- rather than mixing and matching, like where does Collins play, will Whitworth bounce to the outside? We need to say that this left tackle will be the team's left tackle for 10 years and be done with it.
  2. Center - The Bengals need a long-stay center than can handle the AFC North defensive tackles -- or we're going to continue struggling for playoff ambitions. In my opinion, this just goes without saying.
  3. Running Back - This priority can be shuffled by free agency and whatever happens with Cedric Benson, who is going to test the free agent market. However, they need to acquire at least one back, if not two, based on many free agency factors. I really believe that they'll address running back through free agency and perhaps find the team's future feature back in next year's draft.
  4. Wide Receiver - The Bengals believe they still have a shot signing Houshmandzadeh and apparently the Bengals were surprised that Chad Johnson is on the trading block. However, with a collection of young wide receivers after last year's draft, the Bengals want to see what they can do first before moving on, expecting at least one of our Pro Bowl receivers to stick around.
  5. Linebacker (maybe two) - Dhani Jones was the Cedric Benson/Chris Crocker of 2007. Signing him to a three year deal allowed the Bengals much needed stability on defense after four linebackers went on IR, and it was becoming evident that our linebackers drafted in 2005 wouldn't be here anymore. However, the team needs to think future again, looking for a defensive quarterback to give the team's defense a clear vision. If available, the team could decide to go with a middle linebacker in the first round. If not, I would expect at least one, but probably two selections to upgrade the unit.

A lot can still happen before we confidently list positions that we expect to get drafted in respective rounds of the draft. Our top-five is simply opinion based on the revolving events/news that occur throughout each week. We still have two months left so anything can happen and everything can change.

We still think the Bengals will make a mistake drafting Michael Crabtree. It's not that he's untalented or anything like that. We just don't envision him helping us in 2009, and the issue of our offensive line is still there. However, the question now is his draft status after learning of his stress fracture in the foot. Is he worth the sixth selection? You know the way the Bengals draft, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals picked him up in the panicked response of losing T.J. Houshmandzadeh. However, Crabtree's injury isn't considered to be much, if any, of a setback.

One forum called me an idiot for suggesting that the Bengals should draft an offensive tackle and a center in the first two rounds. They'd probably have a brain aneurysm if they knew my hope that the Bengals draft three total linemen with the goal of building the league's best offensive line.

"Wow, this guy is an idiot. Use the 1st round on an OT then 2nd round on a Center? When exactly are we supposed to upgrade the Defense?" The best part about the NFL is that there's more than two selections in any given NFL draft, and there's strong evidence that players drafted later in the draft actually turn out to be just as good, if not better, than those selected in earlier rounds. What about Chinedum Ndukwe? What about Robert Geathers? What about Anthony Collins? Sure, we can go after a tackle and center later in the draft also. However, we'd likely get another Eric Ghiaciuc. Heeeeee-ray for second-rate centers.

Still, it doesn't change the fact that the Bengals need to rebuild their offensive line. Of 8-10 picks that we could have -- who really knows how many compensation picks we'll get -- we could still draft defensive heavy -- AND IMPROVE -- while addressing the offensive line with the first two picks. This is how planning works in the NFL draft; though one could argue planning and the Cincinnati Bengals are hardly bed fellows.

Sam Wyche is enjoying life after football.

Pat Kirwan suggests that if you want a good offensive tackle, you'll have to use your first round pick to acquire one.

Kirwan said this year’s class features a number of top-flight tackles, but their value is so high that waiting on one to drop into the later rounds is not a good decision. If a team wants or needs a left tackle, it’s going to have to use its first-round pick on one. There just isn’t enough quality depth.

Dave correctly points out that even though the Bengals will suffer a cap hit if they trade Chad Johnson, the Bengals will still save money.

Wide receiver prospect Jeremy Maclin suffered a leg injury during the Combine. He returned later in the day.

Several receivers are putting up "blazing times".

The Bengals reportedly have interest in Jeff Saturday. However, he's leaving the door open to a Colts return.

Speaking of centers, Louisville's Eric Wood put up good Combine numbers.

  • Bench: 30 reps, 12th best among offensive linemen.
  • Vertical Jump: 30.5, 10th best among offensive linemen.
  • Three-cone drill: 7.56, 8th best among offensive linemen.
  • 20-Yard Shuffle: 4.51, 4th best among offensive linemen.

Ray Lewis a Dallas Cowboy? Fine with us.