This is a series of posts in which we're going to reset everything and determine what the Bengals options could be in the second and third rounds on Friday. With eight more draft picks before we call this draft complete, the first round will neither make or break this weekend. On Friday the Bengals will will pick 54th (overall), 84th and 96th. What positions could the Bengals address? Now, we're going to examine linebackers.
I feel that the team could make an argument to address linebackers before weekend's end. True, the team is set with this position heading into 2010. However, there's a ton of issues after this coming season that could be addressed in this year's draft if they have linebackers on their board.
Texas' Sergio Kindle is an interesting selection with his ability to get a pass rush, which is an obvious need and the primary factor that would encourage the Bengals to address linebacker early in the draft. Being available will be the greatest hurdle if the Bengals target the Longhorns linebacker.
Another possibility at linebacker on Friday is TCU's Daryl Washington. While not the pass rusher Kindle is, the biggest factor with Washington that could persuade the Bengals is his special teams work -- four blocked kicks. I know, I know. Why draft a linebacker for special teams? It's not just that. The immediate impact Washington has on the Bengals will be on special teams. Long term impact is much greater, with the team having contract issues with several linebackers after the 2010 season; including Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson.
Florida's Brandon Spikes appears to be a play-maker on a linebacker squad that, while ridiculously solid, can't be considered play-makers. His intangibles as Florida's emotion leader that plays ferociously in the middle could weigh heavily in the team's decision to draft Spikes. However, you have to consider that Spikes wouldn't be drafted as the team's starting middle linebacker and if he is drafted, do you keep Maualuga on the outside? Penn State's Sean Lee is another solid selection, but much like the question at the position, the team will have decide what to do with Maualuga considering Lee is an inside linebacker.
With that said, the team could decide to draft an outside linebacker in anticipation of Maualuga's move to the inside and Jones' departure after the 2010 season. Linebackers like Washington and Kindle are obvious selections with solid choices like Penn State's Navorro Bowman, Utah's Koa Misi and South Carolina's Eric Norwood being available.
With all of that said, based on our prospect chart, the highest rated linebacker that the Bengals are reportedly interested in is Florida States' Dekoda Watson, who played inside and outside linebacker with the Seminoles. After Watson, the Bengals hosted Sam Maxwell during the Local Prospect Day in Cincinnati on April 13. However, he might be had on Saturday instead of Friday.