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NFL Draft 3rd Round: Projecting the Bengals Pick as BPA

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Day one is finished and the Bengals predictably grabbed the best receiver in the draft in Georgia's AJ Green. Sitting with the 3rd pick of the 2nd round shouldn't be too hard for commentators, draftnicks and bloggers to prognosticate either. There are still two QBs that the Bengals have shown interest in, with TCU's Andy Dalton, and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett still on the board and if they don't draft one of those guys, it would be a shock to most everybody that still has a pulse.

A more interesting question, or at least one that is a lot harder to project, is "What are the Bengals going to do with their third round pick?"

After Carson Palmer decided that he'd rather spend some quality time with his Lay-Z-Boy, a remote and a cold-one next year than rejoin the team for the 2011 season, he basically cemented the fact that the Bengals are going to take a QB in the first two rounds of this draft. Thus, after they drafted a receiver in round one, it might be a foregone conclusion that the second round will be either Mallett or Dalton.

As we're all pretty familiar with, in the last few years Brown and Lewis have tended towards drafting for a need in the first round, and then drafting the best player available (BPA) in the second round. Last year, they picked up a vital need by selecting TE Jermaine Gresham out of Oklahoma in the first, and followed up by selecting BPA in the second, and grabbed Carlos Dunlap. The year before the Bengals used their 6th overall pick to pick Andre Smith to fill a big need (pun intended), and then drafted the BPA in the second when Rey Maualuga fell in their laps.

However, because of the dire need for a QB this year, the Bengals might have the make the third round their new second round. So it shouldn't surprise us if Mike Brown and Co. ignore a glaring need with the 66th overall pick, and opt instead to grab the best player available (of course, if the BPA happens to coincide with a need, then all the better).

If the Bengals do go after the BPA, here are a few positions that they might very well consider.

Safeties: The dream scenario for the Bengals would be if this year's top ranked safety Rahim Moore fell to the third round, but that's unlikely to happen. Depending upon who you ask, the next highest safety on the board would be either be Jaiquawn Jarrett out of Temple or Quinton Carter out of Oklahoma. However, it's hard to imagine that either of those players being labeled as BPA in the the third round. Plus we already know that Marvin isn't very high on this year's safety class, making it seem even less likely that the team is targeting either player in the third.

Cornerbacks: The cornerback class, which is fairly deep this year could see some players fall into the third round of the draft. If, for instance, a player like Aaron Williams out of Texas fell to the Bengals, or Brandon Harris out of Miami, we might see the Bengals jump on either guy. Or, as Lewis also hinted in the aforementioned article, the Bengals might consider drafting a cornerback  to play safety.

Defensive tackles: It also wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of defensive lineman fall in second round after a record number (12) were taken in the first round of the draft. The best defensive tackles left in the draft are Marvin Austin from North Carolina, Stephen Paea from Oregon state. Both of those players are typically listed as top 50 prospects in the draft this year, and would be a steal if the Bengals grab one with the 66th pick overall.

Defensive Ends: And as far as defensive ends go, that list is of course headed up by Da'Quan Bowers who was projected as top five pick before knee injuries pushed him out of the first round altogether. After Bowers, the next best DE left in the draft are Justin Houstin from Georgia (who was considered a first rounder before he tested positive for marijuana). Though few people expect Bowers to fall any further, it's not entirely unlikely that Houston will fall.

Outside Linebackers: Akeem Ayers (UCLA) is the top rated OLB that is still on the board, but I don't expect him to last too long. However if either Martez Wilson (Illinois) or Bruce Carter (UNC) were still available, they would both be great value in the third.

Offense: As you've probably noticed, all the positions that I've listed so far are on the defensive side of the ball, but I wouldn't put it past Mike Brown to draft for offense three picks in a row (assuming they get a QB in round 2).  Or if either Ryan Williams or Mikel LeShoure, the top rated RBs left in the draft fell, they would also be strong candidates. for the Bengals. Also, guard is still a big need, so watch out for Lehigh's William Rackley as a potential candidate if he's there in the third or If Steven Wisniewski, the top rated center out of Penn was available, he'd be an unlikely, but interesting choice as well.

And in case you're head isn't spinning fast enough yet, I'll drop one more name of a player that I'm coveting this draft: Alex Henery, Kicker, Nebraska.

You may now explode with information overload.