The Senior Bowl is over and the college players that participated either increased their stock or their stock dropped. The draft is still far away but a picture of the first round of the draft is beginning to clear up. Of course there are always surprises but, for the most part, we know what teams need. As for the Bengals, we know they need a running back, guard, safety and cornerback among other things and not necessarily in that order.
There have been multiple mock drafts and most of them have the Bengals taking a cornerback or safety and a running back with their two first-round picks. Others have them taking a guard with one of those picks too. What we haven't seen is a mock draft that has the Bengals taking a linebacker in the first round.
Fox Sports' Peter Schrager's latest mock draft is interesting. He has the Bengals taking a cornerback and a linebacker in the first round with the No. 17 and 21 picks.
For the No. 17 pick, Schrager predicts the Bengals draft North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins is no angel. He's had multiple issues off the field and was dismissed from the Florida Gators football squad by Will Muschamp a year ago. Talent-wise? He's got top-10 ability. Considered a bit of a gamble because of the off-the-field stuff, he might not even be on some teams boards. If there's one franchise willing to roll the dice, it's the Bengals.
I'm going to go ahead and disagree with this. The Bengals have changed their image lately and I don't think they would jump on the Jenkins train without carefully considering his past. If the Bengals do take a chance on him, I doubt it would be because they're the only team that would. This isn't 2005.
However, you can't disregard Jenkins' talent but players like Jenkins can come at a terrible price and the Bengals may not be willing to pay it.
With the No. 21 overall pick, Schrager thinks the Bengals might grab Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The 2011 winner of the Butkus Award, Kuechly recorded a school and ACC record 532 tackles in just three seasons up at Chestnut Hill. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Kuechly is more than merely a tackle machine that cleaned up the mess from an awful B.C. front four. He has good speed, can rush the passer and can defend the pass. Cincinnati can go a variety of ways with its two first-round picks this year. They can't go wrong with picking up an elite cornerback talent like Jenkins and a potential 10-year starter at linebacker in Kuechly. Another bonus? Kuechly grew up in Ohio.
I don't see it. The Bengals could use some help at linebacker, but they can re-sign Manny Lawson and let's not forget that Keith Rivers is still around (for now?). Rey Maualuga deserves another year to get used to the middle linebacker position and Thomas Howard had a good season. The running back, guard and safety positions are much bigger needs than the linebacker position is in 2012.
I have to say, I didn't care for this mock draft. Of all the ones we've reported on, this one, at least to me, was the worst. What do you think?