Now that the 1st round is in the books and the needs at Guard and Cornerback are taken care of, it's time to look ahead at where the Bengals could turn on Saturday. The Bengals hold the 21st pick in the 2nd round, number 53 overall. They also have two 3rd round picks with the addition of the Patriots pick via the 1st round trade. They are the 20th and 30th picks in the 3rd round, number 83 and 93 overall. There are still a lot of quality players left and the Bengals could possibly find another starter or two on Saturday.
Since the Bengals have taken a CB and Guard the biggest needs now are probably a 2nd WR across from AJ Green, a Strong Safety, another body on the D Line and a LB. There were some suprise picks in the 1st round so some players with first round grades will be available in the 2nd and some 2nd round grades available in the 3rd.
The absolute biggest need left is Wide Receiver. They have to get a quality number 2 WR to take some coverage off of AJ Green or he'll be seeing double and triple teams all season. Three of the top four WR's in Bengals history have been taken in the 2nd round: Cris Collinsworth, Carl Pickens, and Chad Johnson/Ochocinco. The top WR left is Stephen Hill. Hill is 6' 4" tall and runs a 4.3 40 yard dash. That's elite size and speed. However he comes from the triple option Georgia Tech offense and isn't polished in his route running and may take a year or so to develop. With that kind of speed though he can at minimum take the top off of defenses and make them play Green honest or play with 7 in the box.
There's other names with 2nd round grades with Hill having a 1st round grade. Players such as Rueben Randle from LSU, Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina, Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers, Brian Quick from Appalachian State, and Jaron Criner from Arizona. Jeffrey was thought to maybe be the top WR in this class before the 2011 season started. He's dropped due to not having great speed and the fact his numbers were down last season. Most of that was due to bad QB play and he could end up being a steal in the 2nd round. The same goes for Randle who played in an LSU offense with a QB that wasn't very accurate and an offense the wasn't very proficient in the passing game.
One more stand out that could be had likely in the 3rd round is T.Y. Hilton from Florida International. He's been called a sleeper by a lot of gurus, but if everyone is calling him a sleeper he isn't really as everyone knows about him. He has blazing speed and ran in the low 4.3's at the combine and some thought he may even run sub 4.3. Burners like that can change an offense completely. He is a bit undersized though at 5' 10".
As far as Safety goes the Bengals are set at FS with Reggie Nelson, but I don't know what they're going to do at SS. Maybe give Taylor Mays a shot to start or compete with Robert Sands. There were really only two viable starting Safeties in this draft and both are gone in Mark Barron and Harrison Smith. The next best is Brandon Taylor and taking him in the 2nd may be a bit of a reach. The problem is he could be gone by the time they pick in the 3rd round. At this point I don't think Taylor is ready to start anyway. One other guy to keep a look out for is Markelle Martin from Oklahoma State, he will likely still be there at the end of the 3rd round.
The Bengals season was a tale of two halves last year. They started off 6-2 and ended 3-5 the 2nd half of the season. This was about the same time they had all of their injuries on the D Line and that 8 man rotation dwindled to about a 5 man rotation. They lost 2 then added 2 free agents which puts them in about the same spot as last season. Carlos Dunlap looks like he can be an elite pass rusher, but can he stay healthy. I really like Peko and Atkins inside. I think they could definitely use another edge rusher with Micheal Johnson in the final year of his contract.
There are plenty of very good D Lineman still available which may be why the Bengals passed on Melvin Ingram. The pass rusher I like the best of who's left is Vinny Curry from Marshall. He may be a bit on the smaller side but I've seen him play and the guy flat out explodes off the line and can fly to the QB on passing downs. There's 4 or 5 D Lineman left that had borderline 1st/2nd round grades and that could be a position the Bengals could pusue in the 2nd and get someone who can contribute immediately. The names to look out for are Devon Still, Andre Branch, Vinny Curry, Jerel Worthy, Kendall Reyes, Jared Crick, and Billy Winn. All of those guys could come off the board in the 2nd round and there would still be some solid players in a deep D Line draft.
The play at LB from Howard and Lawson was quality play last season, but Rey Maualuga was inconsistent and some games so were Howard and Lawson. Some depth could definitely be used at LB. Courtney Upshaw was expected to go top 15 as a 3-4 OLB, but he could also play DE in a 4-3 and is still on the board. That's a shocker in my opinion. Only 2 LB's came off the board in the 1st round in a league where LB's are being valued less and less unless they are edge pass rushers. There's a few names to look out for that could go in the 2nd round in Zach Brown, Lavonte David, Ronnell Lewis, and Sean Spence. This years LB class isn't very deep and if the Bengals feel they have to have another they will likely have to take him in the 2nd. I'd prefer they just find some backups later that can contribute on special teams now.
Last there's the RB position. I'm so glad they didn't take a RB in the 1st round. I think RB is a position that can play as well as it's line allows for the most part. It's also a position quality players can be found in the later rounds. Also I believe teams are better off going with a committee approach keeping players fresh for the entire season. With Benson gone and Benjarvis Green-Ellis in to go along with Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard the need isn't there to take a RB early and they should wait til the later rounds.
Maybe they can get someone like Isiah Pead from University of Cincinnati who can also be a special teams threat. Lamar Miller and Chris Polk are still available and the Bengals would almost certainly have to take them in the 2nd if they wanted them. I believe they're better off waiting for someone like Bernard Pierce from Temple or Cyrus Gray from Texas A&M who can likely be had in the 4th or later.
Overall there are lots of quality players left to be had in the 2nd and 3rd rounds tomorrow. The Bengals also have lots of ammunition and can move up if they chose having two 3rd round picks and three picks in the 5th round.