Dave (Stripe Hype) references Rick Gosselin's piece in which the Dallas Morning News' columnist mocks wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with the NFL sixth overall pick. Let me concur and echo Dave's sentiments. Booooooo. I also want to reference his blog post.
The NFL's worst offense got a little worse this offseason when the Cincinnati Bengals lost leading receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and starting right tackle Stacy Andrews in free agency. The NFL's 24th ranked special teams also took a hit with the departure of return specialist Glenn Holt in free agency.
So the Bengals need to focus on offense and playmakers in the 2009 draft. A wide-receiver/kick returner combination would be ideal, and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin fits that bill. He's in range of Cincinnati's first-round pick, No. 6 overall. But like last year, the offensive tackles will go fast in the first round and if the Bengals don't take one at six, there might not be one when they go back on the clock in the second round for the 38th overall pick.
Even though the Bengals finished 12th in the NFL in defense -- a tribute to the coaching skills off coordinator Mike Zimmer -- Cincinnati could use some help on that side of the ball as well. The Bengals managed an AFC-low 17 sacks in 2008 and finished 21st in the NFL in run defense. Cincinnati has 11 selections in this draft, including four in the Top 98. They need four starters with those premium selections.
Last things first. It's not that I'm demeaning the Bengals accomplishments on defense, but they did spend most of the 2008 season ranked in the mid-20s; finally improving their rankings after shutting down Cleveland and holding the Chiefs to six points. Granted, there's correlation to the offense's tempo, efficency and production -- especially noticeable when they finally started moving the ball with some consistency during their season-ending three-game winning streak. And it's not like I'm offering that the Bengals 2009 defense will be bad, or even mediocre. It's just that we could be fooled by complacency if the team's defense is expected to hover in that low-teens ranking. Before the Bengals three-game winning streak, the Bengals were outscored a total of 80 points (96-16) in the three losses prior to the Colts, Ravens and Steelers (playoff teams) -- an average of 32 points allowed per game. So I agree with Rick's assessment that we have to keep addressing the defense.
I don't agree, however, that the Bengals are in need of playmakers. Let's be honest, we could have them already -- then again, we might not. It's impossible to forecast that right now. Maybe Jerome Simpson and Chris Henry matured in their respective games enough making a first-round playmaking wide receiver almost a wasted pick based on needs. Andre Caldwell could become the next slot receiver that Houshmandzadeh played so well. Or maybe they'll always be viewed as immensely talented in which their potential goes unfulfilled. But how is drafting another unproven (in the NFL) player going to qualify a settlement in that argument? Anyway, it's not like the Bengals will admit to screwing up with three drafted wide receivers last year, only to select another in the first round this year, is it?
"(Jeremy Maclin is) in range of Cincinnati's first-round pick, No. 6 overall. But like last year, the offensive tackles will go fast in the first round and if the Bengals don't take one at six, there might not be one when they go back on the clock in the second round for the 38th overall pick." This came one day after he said, "As many as six wideouts could go in the first. It's the deepest position in this draft." He also said in the quote above that "offensive tackles will go fast in the first round."
With that logic, wouldn't it be advantagous to address the position that will go the quickest while sitting on a position that's the deepest? If you believe that wide receiver is a need, and you know that offensive tackle is a need, then wouldn't both positions need to be addressed taking into account the availability of the players in the draft? Personally, I don't believe wide receiver is a need -- even if the Bengals trade Chad Johnson -- but I fully understand the argument making it a need. I don't think we've seen anything from Simpson or Caldwell, whereas others believe that we've already seen the peek of their careers; some even saying, "well, Simpson only had two receptions in 2008."
Bengals quarterbacks were sacked 51 times. Bengals running backs averaged 3.6 yards-per-rush. Both ranked 29th in the league.
And we're worried about getting playmakers?