It’s unclear to what degree the Bengals running game and subsequently BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s legitimacy was exposed in last Sundays’ victory over the Steelers. True, Pittsburgh held The Law Firm to 14 yards on 15 attempts, which ties a season low, however; multiple factors were at work. First, the Steelers must be respected as a vaunted, number-one ranked NFL Defense, which is currently second in the League against the run. Second, in his premiere game, newly acquired fullback, John Conner, was completely unable to make effective blocks and create any holes for the Green-Ellis to exploit, something that is made further complicated when attempting to utilize a fullback seal against a 3-4 defense… unfortunately, there is a high degree of likelihood that 3-4 defenses are the only thing the Bengals will see for the remainder of the season. And third, the mainstay to each of the Green-Ellis’s 100-yard rushing outings, undrafted rookie center, Trevor Robinson, sat on the sidelines for the whole of the game while re-activated Kyle Cook got dominated by Casey Hampton. Does any of this change the Bengals draft needs? That’s largely unknown, but on the plus side, Cincinnati has at least two more games to find out the severity of any or all of the above factors.
In the meantime, with the definitive nature of the playoffs comes the definitive nature of the NFL Draft. The Bengals will pick no sooner than 21st at this point, which starts to bracket the players that will be available. The current consensus among the draftniks is that the Bengals will select a defensive end with their first pick. The fact that the Bengals are second in the NFL in sacks (47.0) not currently withstanding, the rationale behind this line of thought is that both Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers will be free agents at the end of this season. While all efforts will be made to resign Johnson, Geathers will likely be let go to the open market. Further, Wallace Gilberry was only ever supposed to be summer help, and though he has played admirably in the rotations where Jamaal Anderson was supposed to be on the field. Acquiescing to the concept that adding a pass rusher for depth and to compliment the immerging Force of Nature, Geno Atkins, conducting an examination into the defensive ends that would likely be available to Bengals at the 21st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft may offer greater validity to this prediction.
The Sliders – Damontre Moore & Bjoern Werner. The chances are slim for either of these two falling out of the top ten, let alone the top twenty, though its worth mentioning that either one would be a no-brainer pick for the Bengals should the unthinkable occur. Werner, a German-born beastling, has only been playing the game of football for five seasons, but his instincts and power game are highly effective against both the run and as a pass-rusher, making him a clear every-down lineman. Moore led Texas A&M this season with 80 tackles, with a fourth of those for a loss, and had a great outings verses LSU andAlabama, two of the SEC perennial powerhouses. His only criticism is that he may need to add a little weight, because at only 240 lbs, Moore may find himself man-handled by some of the larger offensive tackles in the NFL. Regardless, it’s highly unlikely that either of these two will be available when the Bengals are set to pick.