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2014 NFL Draft: Don't punch the first-round cornerback ticket for the Bengals... just yet

The arguments for Cincinnati draft a cornerback are justified and they make sense. But it doesn't mean that Cincinnati will draft one in the first round.


Drafting a cornerback is a foregone conclusion, right?

It's what those draft experts are selecting for the Bengals in their flawless mock drafts. Plus, the argument is solid -- age, injuries, and an inconsistent youth already on the roster. With cornerback being such a critical position in today's NFL, it never hurts to consistently apply a first-round cornerback selection, like Johnathan Joseph (2006), Leon Hall (2007) and Dre Kirkpatrick (2012). It's not a position that Cincinnati can hold out on.

"Corners, at least in our system, they have the hardest jobs because a lot of times they don't have help over the top but they've got to cover their guy," said new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther Sunday. "Cover the guy sounds easy but it's the hardest job because sometimes you don't always have help so the techniques of the corner got to be proficient at all times because once they lose their technique, if they turn too soon or back peddle a little too early, it could be a big play."

But selecting a corner during the 2014 NFL draft is not mandatory. Cincinnati has no immediate needs this year, again, enabling the team to continue with roster building -- you know about the "next player up" that Cincinnati used so much last year... this is the time of year that makes it possible. If there's someone in the first round that they really like on defense, they'll select that player.

"If there's like an edge rusher, who do we rank higher? Who is the best player? A good safety sitting there?" said Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "It used to be in the past, 'We've got to get this position. One way or another. We have to fill this role.' We don't have that hole right now on defense."

That being said, as Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer points out, there could be a "need" for a slot cornerback -- which completely depends on Leon Hall's rehabilitation. When Hall lined up against the slot receiver, opposing quarterbacks had a 43.8 opposing passer rating with only 12 receptions allowed in 121 snaps (23 targets). Guenther told reporters that he believes Hall will participate during training camp, but projecting Achilles recoveries in February is tricky.

Either way, depending how free agency plays out in March, the Bengals could go cornerback, offensive line, defensive end but they may just go with their top player on their board, regardless of position -- ala, 2013.