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Round Table: Thoughts On The Upcoming Draft And Free Agency

For our latest round table discussion, I sat down with (on the Internet) with Ryan Harper, Jack Cassidy and Brennen Warner to discuss what the Bengals should do in the first round of the draft and which of their own players they should re-sign when free agency begins.

Here's the conversation:

The Bengals have the No. 17 and No. 21 overall picks in the first round of the draft. They have some pretty big holes to fill on the roster and they're in need of a cornerback, safety, wide receiver, running back and help on the offensive line. What two positions would you use the team's first-round draft picks to fill?

Ryan H. Definitely cornerback for one of the two picks. When Hall went down with his Achilles injury it really exposed the Bengals lack of depth behind him. As for the second pick, while the Bengals have quite a few holes to fill, I would use the second one for some help on the offensive line. There's enough running talent in this draft that they could wait until the second or third round to get a back. It would be a reach to draft a running back in the first round and he would be doomed anyways because there isn't much of an offensive line to open any running lanes

Brennen W. For me, offensive guard is the most important position to address. Drafting a guy like David DeCastro would do wonders for our horrible running attack, and would give Dalton more time. But, he's the only guard worthy of a first round pick really. If he's not there, I'd be fine with a cornerback, runningback, or Mark Barron - in that order.

Ryan H. Even if Richardson is off the boards by the time the Bengals pick you would be okay with them selecting a different running back in the first round?

Jack C. Personally, I address what I see as the biggest need: the secondary. I realize it isn't the popular pick, but if Barron is available at 17 then that's a player you need to strongly consider taking. At, 21 you have to believe that either Kirkpatrick, Jenkins, or Dennard will still be there, and if they aren't then address the offensive line. What I DON'T want is running back. It's been said over and over again, but there's no significant difference between 1st round backs and later round backs.

Jack C. The role of the running game in the NFL is lessening and lessening. It's all about the passing attack now, so let's address the positions that will defend just that.

Jason G. If I had to choose what the team would do with their two first-round picks, I would say they need to find somebody to shore up the secondary, whether that's with a new cornerback or safety and then they need to find a guard. I actually wouldn't mind it if they picked a corner and safety both in the first round and addressed guard and running back in the next couple rounds.

Ryan H. I would be all for the Bengals drafting David DeCastro, if he's still available at No. 17 or 21

Jason G. Having said that, though, I also understand that the team needs a new running back and waiting until the second round or later could be a risk, especially if the other teams go running back crazy early. However, talented backs could be found in free agency.

Brennen W. Right now, Trent Richardson is the only one worth the 17th or 21st pick. Lamar Miller, Chris Polk, Doug Martin could all rise, but you can only take Richardson if the Bengals were to draft today. Jack, to go off your point about the increasing role of the passing attack, Richardson is very good at pass-catching and pass-blocking. I'm perfectly okay with drafting Richardson in the first round, he's elite at everything.

Jack C. Exactly. Running backs are so hit or miss that I just don't see the practicality in using a 1st round pick on one, especially with so many other holes to fill.

Ryan H. It would be a repeat of last year.....just with running backs instead of quarterbacks. If teams go crazy in the first round.

Jason G. I've also seen a handful of mock drafts that have the Bengals taking a wide receiver in the first round. I personally think that would be a huge mistake, but what do you guys think?

Ryan H. Yeah that would be a mistake. Sure they do need another wide receiver to compliment A.J. Green considering Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell's futures with the team are unknown and Jordan Shipley will be a question mark coming off his injury, but a wide receiver isn't their biggest need

Brennen W. I think drafting Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffery would be a huge mistake because I don't think they are very good frankly. But I'm in the surround-Dalton-with-weapons camp, so if Justin Blackmon is there at 17 (highly unlikely), that would be an incredible value pick. You have to take him.

Jack C. Big mistake in my opinion. A #2 receiver is needed, but not nearly as much as other positions. A player I like is Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams. He had a big day catching the ball at the Senior Bowl, is a phenomenal kick returner (a position I would love to improve at), and could very realistically be available in the third or fourth round.

Ryan H. I would rather see the Bengals fill other positions in the first round and address wide receiver later on in the draft or dare I say it, even via free agency
despite their lack of success with free agent wide receivers in the last three or four years....

Brennen W. In general, I'm not opposed to taking a wide receiver if the value is there. Not a mistake at all. Don't reach for a player that isn't worth the pick just because it's a big need. Problem is, only Justin Blackmon fits the bill here.

Before we even really get into the draft, though, there is free agency to worry about. The first thing that teams do in free agency is take care of their own. Each of you come up with the one player the Bengals absolutely need to re-sign and the one player that that they should absolutely let walk away and why.

Jack C. The player I keep is defensive end Frostee Rucker. He was a crucial piece of of our defensive line which was the strength of a very solid defense, and he's an invaluable run stopper. I'd love to see Rucker come back.

Ryan H. Mike McGlynn has to go. Whenever he was on the field the right side of the line would deteriorate. He was more of a punching bag for pass rushers because he was mauled by them on a consistent basis. Also he didn't do much to help enhance the running game either. That's one pick-up that I wish wouldn't have happened, but it did and hopefully his time in Cincy is up.

Brennen W. You have to go with Reggie Nelson in the must keep category. If he's gone, the Bengals have zero safeties worth starting. I think Reggie's skill is a little over-hyped by our fans, but if you look at his replacements, that's why he is so valuable to the team.

Jack C. Stay away from Jerome Simpson. Inconsistency, legal name it and it was a problem for Simpson. Sure, he showed signs that he could be a solid #2, but not close to enough to keep him any longer.

Ryan H. As for the keeper, I agree with Brennen, it should be Reggie Nelson. If he leaves via free agency then the Bengals don't have any viable replacements on the current roster. And even though he was inconsistent at times, he was better than some of our other internal options.

Brennen W. I'm letting Cedric Benson walk away. Goes without saying really. He's below average at everything, and his attitude simply doesn't fit on the team. I'd be absolutely shocked if he were resigned.

Jason G. I would say the Bengals should re-sign Manny Lawson. Lawson played very well as one of the team's outside linebackers, especially in the last stretch of the season. Many have talked about the linebacker position being one of need but I think Lawson deserves another one- or two-year contract. As for the player I'd let walk away, I would say Benson but I think I'd actually be more upset if they re-signed Simpson. He's terribly inconsistent and the legal troubles are too big of a red flag.

Brennen W. I wouldn't be surprised if they let Manny Lawson and Brandon Johnson walk though. We have an absolute logjam at linebacker with Roddrick Muckelroy, Dontay Moch, and Keith Rivers all returning after missing 2011.

Jason G. See, I actually wouldn't be surprised if they let Rivers go. For a first-round pick, he's been completely underwhelming the entire time he's been in the starting lineup. The linebacker position I think could go either way. It will be interesting to see what happens

Brennen W. Yes, that's another possibility too. Depends on who they bring back, but training camp for LBs this year will be intense.

Jack C. That'd be tough to see, but you're exactly right Jason. Too bad, I really liked Rivers when he was drafted.

Ryan H. Who is to say that Roddrick Muckelroy, Dontay Moch, or Keith Rivers will be able to stay on the field for the season? I don't think it would be wise to let both Brandon Johnson and Manny Lawson to walk. I think they should at least bring back one of them.
I liked Rivers at first, but not so much anymore. He hasn't been able to stay healthy or produce when he's on the field.

Brennen W. True. Point is, the Bengals have some very tough decisions to make with the LB corps.

Jason G. Yes they do