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Why Cornerback is the Cincinnati Bengals biggest need in NFL Draft

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Age and injury has take it's toll on the CB position, and the Bengals must address it in this year's NFL draft.

John Grieshop

The Cincinnati Bengals have done a great job recently at planning to replace upcoming free agents. They've done this by drafting their eventual replacements in the same year that may be their last in Cincinnati.

That could apply to the cornerback position this year, arguably the biggest position of need in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Newman is likely gone after this year. He'll turn 36 in September, and frankly there's no guarantee he's on the opening 53-man roster. He also missed four games last year, including the Wild Card playoff loss to the Chargers. He could easily be more injury-prone in '14 given his age.

Jones will turn 31 in September, and after a so-so 2013 season, he needs to have a good 2014 campaign to ensure the Bengals pay his $1.9 million salary in 2015. Jones has been the most durable CB, having played in all 32 games the past two seasons.

Hall is as good as any corner in the league when he's healthy, but he's missed 20 combined games in the past three seasons. The Bengals still have a lot of players looking for new deals, and Hall could certainly help the club out be restructuring his contract.

His cap hit will be $8.7 million this year and 9.6 million in 2015. If he suffers another injury this year, it may be his last in Cincinnati. The Bengals just can't keep paying him this much with A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict needing new deals soon.

2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has also been a major disappointment. He's missed 13 games in his only two NFL seasons. Is he someone the Bengals think can replace any of the aforementioned players?

Oh, and Mike Zimmer is no longer here, and his blitz schemes were any CB's best friend. Having a front-line of Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap took a lot of the pressure off the CB's shoulders.

Johnson is now gone and Atkins is coming off an ACL tear. Needless to say, more pressure is going to be put on Bengals defensive backs in 2014, but it doesn't exactly sound like they have the manpower for it.

The Bengals realize this and have already met with Darqueze DennardKyle Fuller and Jason Verrett. Those are three of the top five CB prospects in this year's draft, a pretty good indicator that CB is their no. 1 position of need heading into the draft.