I was listening to talk radio today and someone called in and asked Chick Ludwig which way he thinks the Bengals will go in the draft next year. That got me thinking about what the Bengals have missed the most this season.
Obviously this is a very young team and the future looks bright. It looks as if this may be the Bengals division in the very near future with all the young talent and the Ravens and Steelers getting old. They have a lot of good young players at most of the key positions.
I'd say they definitely need to take a Cornerback within the first two rounds next year. We've all seen what has happened to the secondary with Leon Hall out for the season. I like Adam Jones and think he has played well. I also like the veteran leadership Nate Clements brings and would like to see both of them return. That said I think they would both be better served as the 3rd and 4th CB's. I'd like to see them land Janoris Jenkins or Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round with one of their two picks.
Also they have to get a Guard or two early in next year's draft. This however doesn't have to be in the first round. It would be nice to get someone like DeCastro, but they'd have to spend a first round pick to do so. Another route would be to get a 2nd or 3rd round Tackle that is over sized and has the versatility to play Guard. It seems like you can get better athletes that play Tackle vs. ones that play Guard. Someone like Barrett Jones comes to mind. This gives them someone that could fill in at Tackle in case of injury or the flexibility to move Whit or Andre Smith inside. I know that I don't want to see Nate Livings as the opening day starter for the Bengals next year and Bobbie Williams is old and may be done after this season. They did land a steal with Boling in the 5th round and he could be Williams replacement.
Also Carlos Dunlap has been out 4 of the last 5 weeks. It's no coincidence the Bengals have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Dunlap is an elite pass rusher. The problem is he's the only elite pass rusher the Bengals have. Everyone else is better when Dunlap is in there because he draws so much attention. If the Bengals have a chance to land an elite pass rusher in the first round I think they should do so. Elite pass rushers don't grow on trees and they are hard to come by. If the Bengals could get someone as good as Dunlap across from him their defense would go from good to great. That would be especially true if they get a first round CB and Leon Hall back next year. With one of the best pass rushes in the NFL and solid group of 4 good CB's they would be very tough to throw against in a league where everyone is pass happy. If you add that too a young offense that looks like it will be explosive you have a Super Bowl contender.
As much as I like Cedric Benson he's an average RB at best. Scott averages more yards per carry than Benson. The line is built to run block and he still averages less than 4 yards per carry. The only one I would even consider spending a first round pick on is Trent Richardson. He could be special like Adrian Peterson. Other than that I am not a fan of using a first round pick on a RB at all.
Like I said the future looks bright and if the Bengals can hit on these next couple of drafts they are in prime position to make a Super Bowl run and I think Marvin Lewis knows this. That's why he seems much happier these days, even with the current losing streak. It hasn't been about this season this is just all icing on the cake. The Bengals have 5 picks in the first 3 rounds in next year's draft. 2 picks in the first round, 1 pick in the second round, and 2 picks in the third round. I'm assuming they get a third round pick for Jonathon Joseph leaving in free agency. Also it looks like in 2013 they will have an additional second round pick. It could be a first rounder, but I doubt Carson Palmer is leading Oakland or anyone to the AFC Championship game. That's 9 picks in the first 3 rounds of the next two drafts. With all the pieces the Bengals have in place these picks will mainly be for depth and that's why I say the Bengals are in prime position to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989.