Cincinnati Bengals 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
The Cincinnati Bengals made it back-to-back playoff appearances in 2012, but for the second year in a row they exited post-season play like a quiet mouse, and have left many wondering if they’re good enough on offense to take the next step.
With Andy Dalton and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I say no. However, A.J. Green and a pretty darn good defense keeps this team in the mix, and hopefully Dalton can keep getting better. If not, we could be talking about a whole different “team need” article come 2014. For now, there are more pressing matters, and we’ll try to cut the fat from the meat as we think like the Bengals in preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Offensive Needs: RB, RT, WR
BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn’t the long-term answer at running back and Bernard Scott is a free agent. The Law Firm will be back in 2013, but he shouldn’t greet the gates of the new season without some hefty competition. Cincy could easily just add a decent level back like a Rashard Mendenhall in free agency, but they’d just be repeating history. The Bengals need to go get their next Corey Dillon and be serious about it. If Eddie Lacy or Giovani Benard are hanging around early, they need to actually draft as if RB is a need. But even if they pass on those guys and wait until the middle rounds, they could still find solid options like Rex Burkhead or Stepfan Taylor. One way or another, the team needs to get better at running back.
Cincy needs to re-sign Andre Smith. He’s a very solid tackle and just 26, so they need to make sure they don’t lose him. If he leaves via free agency, right tackle suddenly becomes an issue and the Bengals will have to fix it. If they keep him (and they should), they can simply add depth on the o-line and be fine for 2013. However, they definitely should try to bring another center in at some point to encourage much-needed competition at the position.
A.J. Green is an absolute stud, but after him it’s pretty lame at wide receiver for the Bengals. Mohamed Sanu has potential and Marvin Jones has nice raw ability, but Sanu is coming off of a broken foot and Jones is still too inconsistent. The Bengals don’t necessarily need to replace either, but adding another talented receiver to the mix to increase competition is a good idea.
Defensive Needs: LB, S, DE
Rey Maualuga was a mess in the middle for Cincy, and isn’t the long-term answer anymore. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and get a new leader who can roam sideline to sideline. The first round could be a good place to start, where Cincy could easily find both Manti Te’o and Alec Ogletree sliding down to them. Arthur Brown is another option if they pass on the position in round one.With Manny Lawson hitting free agency, the Bengals will also have to look at an outside linebacker if they don’t bring him back.
Taylor Mays was trash in 2012 and Nate Clements can’t be the savior at safety forever. In fact, both he and Chris Crocker hit free agency this year, which means it’s more crucial now than it has been in a while for the Bengals to get serious about the last resort in their defense. There are several quality safeties in this draft class, so the Bengals could easily go for one in the first two rounds. Matt Elam or Eric Reid would be logical fits in the first.
As good as Cincy’s defense was last year, it’s clear they have a lot of issues. A lot of that has to do with free agency, where they could fix their need at defensive end quite a bit by simply bringing Michael Johnson back. Johnson will likely be franchised and brought in on a long-term deal eventually, but he’s not the only DE free agent for Cincy and they could really use more talent in their pass-rush. This is definitely another position worthy of a first round selection this year, although defensive end will definitely leak into round two and three due to a solid crop of prospects at the position. The Bengals should have no trouble adding some solid talent here.
The Bengals are ascending, but they absolutely have some holes to fill. They badly need help at safety and inside linebacker, so addressing those two spots with more than just a stop-gap player is crucial to their continued success. So is not letting Michael Johnson go. Beyond that, I just don’t see how their offense can get consistent without a legit threat at RB. They need to rectify that, while also not letting their o-line fall apart with Andre Smith leaving.
The Bengals need to apply some band-aids in a sense, while also just adding some top level talent at two main positions they haven’t had elite players at for years. If Cincy can hit these spots, they’ll be in great shap to make the playoffs for a third straight year in 2013.