Nati On Draft – Part III: Primarily Secondary

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Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass intended for

When the Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham in 2010, selecting a tight end was something of a debate. While one of the alternatives, Taylor Mays (SS, USC), has since made it to the Bengals roster regardless, the strong safety position and the rest of the secondary remains in disarray two years later. Free agent stop gaps made necessary by the departure of Jonathan Joseph and season-ending injury to Leon Hall aired out Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defense as agonizingly vulnerable. Unlike other areas on the roster that can be sewn up with the addition of a single upgrade or the retention of an individual free agent, the secondary is going to require multiple and layered improvements if the Bengals are going to ensure that not only will next year’s starters be competitive but also that they are deep enough to withstand the inherent few bumps and bruises along the way.

It’s going to be hard for the Bengals to fix everything in a single season. However, in order to start the reconstruction, the foundation must be clearly evaluated. Leon Hall looks like he will be back. Nate Clements is still serviceable and has a year left on an affordable contract, but past that, he’ll likely be put out to pasture. Brandon Ghee and Rico Murry are practice squad material at best. Kelly Jennings and Adam “Pacman” Jones are both free agents and while Jennings could be reasonably retained as a solid back-up, Jones remains a question mark. Arguably, he should be resigned as a nickel corner and as a return man – makesmore sense than anything Brandon Tate did last year.

The visit from former Raider, Stanford Routt, would imply that the Bengals are looking at upgrading cornerback with a veteran. The fact that Routt fits Owner Mike Brown’s M.O. of targeting down-and-out players on the cheap isn’t the highlight. Rather, it’s acknowledging that the Bengals are looking acquire an immediate impact at the position through experienced players. The logic is that if Hall, Clements and Routt (or some other free agent) are all ready go with Jennings and Jones waiting in the wings, then drafting a safety can become the priority for the Draft…

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