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Brian Billick Says Bengals Should Go Defense First In Draft

Former Baltimore Ravens head coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick knows Marvin Lewis well from their days in Baltimore. He thinks that Lewis and the Bengals should think defense first in the first round of the draft. Billick thinks that the Bengals need a dominant outside pass rusher, but mentions that there are not too many exceptional pass rushers in this years draft:

"It's not a great year for that, is that going to be available to them?" Billick said of this years class of pass rushers.

Billick also mentioned secondary as a dire need for the Bengals:

"Probably the secondary. The fact they lost out in free agency, then the injury to (Leon) Hall. Probably go into the secondary and shore that up."

Billick is certainly on the right track when it comes to the lack of elite pass rushers in this years draft, but he also mentioned the later rounds and free agency:

"Maybe they can strike gold in the later rounds for the outside pass rusher, maybe in free agency. Where they're picking in the first round, I don't know if there is going to be that dominant pass rusher."

According to many draft experts, North Carolina's Quentin Coples is the top 4-3 defensive end in this years draft. It is unlikely at this point in late February that he will fall to where the Bengals pick. Other top pass rushers include Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, and Southern California's Nick perry. Most believe that they would fit better in a 3-4 than a 4-3. However, Nick Perry has said that he prefers to play in the 4-3. The Bengals will need to decide if they want to bring back defensive line contributors Frostee Rucker, Jonathan Fanene, and Pat Sims. If the Bengals do not bring at least two of them back, they could look to add a pass rusher in the first couple of rounds.

While there may not be too many pass rushers that stand out in this years draft class, the secondary will provide many options for the Bengals. Cornerback is especially deep, and the Bengals are expected by many experts to pick one early in the draft. Even with the news of Leon Hall's progress, cornerback may be the teams biggest need. LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is considered to be the top corner by just about every draft expert, and will likely be selected somewhere in the top ten. There is much debate over the next group of corners. According toNFL Network's Mike Mayock, the next four corners are Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins, Montana's Trumaine Johnson, and Iowa State's Leonard Johnson.

Mayocks rankings do not include other consenus favorites like South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore, Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosely, Virginia's Chase Minnifield, and Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming. Even if the Bengals decide to spend the big bucks to sign a Brandon Carr or a Cortland Finnegan, expect the Bengals to still target a cornerback early on in the draft.