If you've read 50 mock drafts for the 2011 NFL draft, you've probably seen almost 50 mock drafts in which the Bengals select A.J. Green with their No. 4 overall pick. Why wouldn't they select Green. He's a game-changing wide receiver and the Bengals may lose both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Green would work well with Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham and create an extremely talented and young corps of receivers.
Well, Jason La Confora is about to blow your mind. His mock draft on NFL.com is completely different, especially for the Bengals.
He selects Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers for the Carolina Panthers with the first pick. Next, the Broncos take North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn. Then, with the No. 3 overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Then it was the Bengals turn. La Confora selects.....
.... LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson for the Bengals with their No. 4 overall pick. Here's what he says:
Patrick Peterson. Another kid with first overall potential. They may lose Johnathan Joseph, The Bengals, in free agency. Their other corner, Leon Hall, is up a year from now. They're going to have to do something at that position. I'm going with a corner there.
It makes sense, right? The Bengals had the chance to use their franchise tag on Joseph before the Feb. 24 deadline but elected not to use their tag. Also, now that Champ Bailey has signed a large deal with Denver, Joseph has a measuring stick of how much he's worth. If the Bengals decide that they don't want to pay Joseph what he feels he's worth, another team will. Adam Jones could step in and start for Joseph, if he stays healthy. However, both Jones and Leon Hall are both set to be free agents after the 2011 season. If Hall decides that he's worth what Bailey and Joseph are, the Bengals could decide to let him go too. If that turns out to be the case, they could use a guy like Peterson.
The Bengals are attempting to sign Joseph and running back Cedric Benson before the CBA expires on March 4. We'll have to wait and see if they do.
Another interesting aspect of La Confora's mock draft is Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. He has Fairley falling to the Cleveland Browns. If the Bengals sign Joseph before the March 4 deadline, they wouldn't have a need to draft Peterson with the No. 4 overall pick. If they have a choice between drafting Green or Fairley which one would they select? Who do they need more?
If we suddenly find ourselves in a position where Andre Caldwell is the most experienced wide receiver on the team, they could use a guy with Green's talent, even though Caldwell would still be the most experienced.
However, Fairley could make an impact on a defensive line that has seen better days. His attitude could also bring a spark to a defense that lacks the kind of player that Bengals fans love and fans of other NFL teams love to hate. You can read Josh's interview with Fairley here.
Who do you think the Bengals will/should take with their first-round draft choice?