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Commentary: The Cincinnati Bengals Don't Need to Worry About Defensive Ends in the Draft

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One of the biggest problems that the Bengals defense had in 2010 was their inability to get to the quarterback before the ball was thrown. If a quarterback has all the time in the world, somebody is going to get open, even against cornerbacks as good as Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph.

Luckily, Bengals rookie Carlos Dunlap showed his stuff in the last half of the 2010 season, finishing with 9.5 sacks, breaking the Bengals rookie sack record previously set by Justin Smith. Fellow rookie interior lineman Geno Atkins also showed that he has a knack for getting to the passer, adding three sacks of his own. And then there's defensive end/linebacker/athletic-freak-of-nature Michael Johnson, who added 2.5 sacks last season.

Then you have Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers, who together would soak up $8.45 million in 2011. Even though, Odom looked impressive early in the 2009 season, sacking the quarterback eight times in just six games before suffering a season-ending injury to his Achilles Tendon and Geathers finally played an entire season in 2010, drawing the praise of his head coach, the NFL is most definitely a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Lately, neither Odom nor Geathers have done much of anything.

The Bengals will likely address the position in the draft, but it's unknown as how soon they'll attempt to find one. I'm here to say, they don't necessarily need to worry about it right away.

While this year's draft class isn't full of great offensive linemen, safeties or even quarterbacks, it is very strong with defensive linemen, especially defensive ends. According to ESPN Draft Tracker, there are 10 defensive ends ranked in the top-32 players.

Selecting Robert Quinn or Da'Quan Bowers with the No. 4 overall pick might be a safer pick than A.J. Green and definitely safer than selecting Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, but the need for a wide receiver, and definitely a quarterback, outweighs the need for a defensive end. Even though Odom and Geathers haven't produced much, they're not threatening retirement.

Even though the current lockout/injunction is going to force teams to draft for need over best player available, the Bengals may find themselves in a situation in the third round, or possibly later, where they could draft a first-round talent in Georgia's Justin Houston, especially now that it's public knowledge that he failed his combine drug test.

I know what you're thinking: the Bengals don't need anybody who would be insane enough to put himself in a situation to fail a drug test in what is the biggest job interview of his life. However, Dunlap fell to the Bengals in the second round because of character issues (DUI) and that has worked out so far. Need another example? Percy Harvin failed his NFL Combine drug test but the Vikings still took a chance on him, and that has worked out so far.

According to ESPN Draft Scout, Justin Houston is ranked as the 11th best defensive end in this year's draft class and is ranked as the No. 35 prospect overall. In some mock drafts, Houston was being selected as high as the late first round, but now that teams know that he failed his drug test (if they didn't know already), he'll likely fall out of the first and possibly out of the second. Ex-Bengal and current NFL analyst David Pollack seems to believe that Houston's draft stock will fall.

100000% yes RT @Spec1al_Ed:reports say Justin Houston failed a drug test at NFL Combine.. does this drop him out of 1st rd definitely?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

If Houston drops out of the first two rounds, and the Bengals have a quarterback, should they take a chance on Houston? If the Bengals find themselves in that situation and they take advantage of it, they would likely be able to let one of the two, or maybe both, veteran defensive ends (Geathers or Odom) go, to save some money and Michael Johnson could move back to outside linebacker where he could make quarterbacks soil themselves in passing situations.

Of course, it's unclear as to whether or not Houston's drug test result will make him fall all the way to the third, but if he does, the Bengals could get lucky.