General scouting for a draftnik begins with the expectation of a final record. For example, if a team is expected to finish 8-8 or better, it’s foolish to look for whatever your top positional need is in a player who will likely be off the board within the first ten picks. Contrary-wise, if you’re a team whose season is on the skids, not only do you look at the early first rounders, but you also focus your attention across the late board on secondary needs in case a talent happens to slide to the early second round.
As of last Sunday, this line of thought at least has to start being a consideration for Cincinnati. Even the most optimistic fans would have struggled with the thought that was the Bengals year to make a deep run, but the majority of realists saw this season ending somewhere in the gauge of 7-9 to 9-7. In all estimation this season could likely end much worse, which plays into our future far more than one might think.
The two glaring needs for Cincinnati are strong safety and running back, which is notable because both of the top ranked players at those positions – Marcus Lattimore (RB, South Carolina) and Kenny Vaccaro (SS, Texas) – are mid-late first round to early second round talents. If the Bengals do poorly enough this season, drafting either would be a reach and foolish. Thus, the question now becomes, what do the Bengals do if they pick in the top ten?
2013 Draft Class will produce a gang of nose tackles, with Star Lotulelei (NT, Utah), Jonathan Hankins (NT, Ohio State) and Johnathan Jenkins (NT, Georgia) certainly coming off the board early. Further, Geno Smith (QB,West Virginia) and Matt Barkley (QB, USC) will likely see their Draft Day playout in a Luck / RGIII scenario come April with Tyler Wilson (QB,Arkansas) in tow not too long afterwards. With Devon Still maturing behind Domata Peko and Geno Atkins and Andy Dalton firmly rooting as the signal caller, none of these listed will warrant the use of a first round pick, regardless of being the best available.
There are likely to be a number of day-one caliber defensive ends floating at the top of the Draft as well, and with Robert Geathers turning 30 this year and Michael Johnson a free agent, a few of these names might be worth keeping an eye on. Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State) or Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU) are the top talents, but as before; is the juice worth the squeeze? Same could be asked of drafting another first round corner, though the Bengals do seem to collect them at this point. While Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State) and Jonathan Banks (CB, MississippiState) would be helpful, and DeMarcus Milliner (CB, Alabama) does present a very interesting Crimson Tide tandem with Dre Kirkpatrick, it would be unexpected to see a back in the first round to say the least.