The Panhandle Rivalry – FSU & Florida
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes would make a great pairing with Dre Kirkpatrick, but it’s unclear whether or not Cincinnati’s most dire needs are in the secondary at this point. What is clear is that other than Rhodes and outside linebacker Brandon Jenkins, neither FSU or Florida are going to produce any significant defensive players this year. However, what is noteworthy is that the top two kickers in college belong to these Sunshine State institutions, namely Dustin Hopkins (FSU) and Caleb Sturgis (Florida). While 30 year old Mike Nugent had a very good season last year, it’s very possible that he could revert to his old New York Jets style of play, something that was very prevalent as recently as 2010 (78.9 FGP). In which case, burning a sixth or seventh round pick on either kicker wouldn’t be all that bad of an investment.
The Surprise – South Carolina
Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden will likely use the running back committee approach until he leaves Cincinnati; it’s just how he rolls. BenJarvus Ellis-Green is locked in for the next three seasons, and in New England he proved his worth as a massive receiving threat and a redzone back who never turns the ball over. Who says that has to change?
Enter Marcus Lattimore. It would be shocking if this Game Cock didn’t go in the first round, but then again, there is still a full season of college football to be played. Add Lattimore to the Law Firm and you suddenly have a very lethal (and cheap) Bengals’ backfield. But Lattimore isn’t the only name to keep in mind for South Carolina. While not loaded with NFL bound players, strong safety DeVonte Holloman, defensive end Devon Taylor and center TJ Johnson will likely all fly very low under the radar and be huge steals in the latest portions of the draft.