Vic Carucci of NFL.com wrote an article about the Bengals Offense but really only talked about Jay Gruden. While I am excited to see what the offense will look like under the guidance of Gruden, thats not what makes me excited about the coming season.
The Bengals offense has a lot of question marks going into the draft, while they still are only a few positions away from becoming a contender. With Carson Palmer saying he will never play for the Bengals again and with no immediate answer on the roster it makes the QB position an instant need whether it be though the draft or FA.
The WR position needs to be upgraded with Ocho most likely headed out of Cincinnati. Jerome Simpson made a big splash in the last 3 games of the year, while he flashed all the physical skills to be successful he still lacked some of the mental part of it. Whether you want to argue he was just excited to get on the field or his inexperience, things like ball security has to be done without having to think twice about, or you won’t have a very long career in this league. Saying that Jerome is one of the young players who could be “the future” of this organization. Jordan Shipley is another WR that I believe will be of high value to the Bengals. His fierce style of play is in the mold of TJ Houshmandzadeh, who the Bengals probably wish they never let go. Shipley has great hands with a high football IQ which was why he was one of Palmer’s favorite targets, and that speaks volumes when he was a rookie WR. Most people are down on Andre Caldwell and think he can be replaced, but I on the other hand am excited for him this season as the WCO thrives on short to intermediate routes with YAC yards. Small, fast, shifty receivers usually excel in the WCO offense. That is exactly what Andre Caldwell brings to the table as a fourth WR.
Whether you were one of the people for or against draft TE Jermaine Gresham last year he brings ALOT to the table this year. Personally I think he was under utilized last year, largely to blame was the scheme we ran and the OL needing help to block. At 6’5 260lbs he is a big physical presence who should be used more as a receiving threat this year with a new QB and OC. The premiere TE’s in the league run alot of skinny post and fly routes because they create such a mismatch for LB’s in that 10-15 yard range so I expect us to use Gresham like that this season, rather than the TE screens and out patterns he was running this year.
With Marvin Lewis stating that we will be a run first team this year, we currently don’t have a RB that suites that bill. I expect the coaching staff to address this situation in the mid-rounds of the draft especially with the uncertainty of Cedric Benson returning . Guys like Jamie Harper from Clemson or Daniel Thomas from Kansas State that can pound the ball would pair up nicely with Benard Scott who I expect to see more touches this year. He is just to good not to see the ball more. In his two years with the Bengals he is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 7.9 yards per catch out of the backfield. In order for an offense to be successful in the NFL you have to convert 3rd downs, something we have struggled to do since having a healthy Chris Perry.
All these young skill position players give the Bengals a solid core to build around, while none of them have proven much in the NFL yet I believe it would be wise to lock some of these guys up while they will still be cheap. I believe the Bengals will draft AJ Green in the first round to solidify the WR core and take their chances one of the QB’s they like will be there in round 2 (Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett). After the first 2 rounds we must address the Oline and Safety positions. While the Bengals have been known to take players with “potential” to be great players Marvin Lewis is stressing that he wants all rookies to contribute early this year so don’t be surprised to see some guys taken that don’t have as high of a ceiling. A guard like John Moffitt in the 3rd round would be able to step in and at least compete for the starting LG spot. With all that being said if the Bengals come out of the draft with a QB, WR, OL, S and RB in no particular order I would be satisfied with the draft.