In 2012, the Bengals were flying high. They had successfully replaced Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, who led them to the playoffs in their rookie season.
Jonathan Joseph joined the Houston Texans via free agency the year before. Most believed the Bengals were going to draft a cornerback. They wanted to replace Joseph. That's the exactly what they did, except it hasn't worked out the way organization had hoped. The Bengals took Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick in the draft. He wasn't the top player they had on their board. He wasn't even their top cornerback, but they took him because they ‘needed' a cornerback.
What has Kirkpatrick brought to the team in his first two seasons with the Bengals? He's played in 19 out of a possible 32 regular season games and has 34 total tackles. Could Kirkpatrick figure it out in year number three? Maybe, but it doesn't change the fact that the Bengals drafted him based on a need.
Was he really the player they were targeting with their first round pick or were they just looking at a specific position to help address a need? If you believe the latter, then you certainly don't want them to use the ‘need' based draft strategy this year.
The Bengals should take the best player available. It doesn't matter if it's a quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, defensive end or safety. Pick the top guy on your board.
Would you be upset if the Bengals took a wide receiver who had the ability to become a superstar? Would you be upset if they took a star center?
There is no reason for the Bengals to target one specific position group in the first round. Last year, they were looking at players like Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro. When those players were taken, they didn't select another safety. Instead, they took Tyler Eifert. They thought Eifert was the best player available. They need to have the same strategy this year.
Take the best player available. Adding good football players is better than addressing a need with a so-so or average player. Will they still have draft 'misses' if they draft this way? Of course, but it is less likely because they won't be targeting one position with tunnel vision.
If the corner they want is there when they pick at 24, then take him. That could mean Jason Verrett, Kyle Fuller or Darqueze Dennard ending up in stripes. That's fine Bengals, go get your guy.