When the NFL Draft gets started April 25-27, the Bengals have picks numbered 21, 37, 53, 84, 118, 156, 190, 197, 240, and 251. These picks includes two, (37 & 197) from previous trades to Oakland and New England and one (227) given in trade with San Francisco.
With the free agent options at running back proving to be pretty thin, today, Coach Lewis indicated the team will be pick a running back to compliment BenJarvis Green-Ellis. Hopefully they’ll find a greater break away threat as opposed to Green-Ellis’ short-yardage proficiency. The 2012 offense often struggled with weak first and second down gorund options and exposed the passing game as the preferred alternative.
However the 2013 draft is light with running back options as well. The best reports point to North Carolina sophmore Giovanni Bernard, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle. Bernard was a third team All-American as the Tarheel led the ACC’s rushers in yards and touchdowns. As a senior, Franklin rolled up nearly a mile rushing and 19 TDs for the Bruins. He is praised as strong in both long and short yardage as well as for his skill as a receiver. Randle enters the NFL draft as a sophmore after two years with the OSU Cowboys. Without comparable stats, he is considered a solid second or third rounder and is praised for his strength and durability. Whoever the Bengals can pick will have been passed over by the Cowboys who pick 18th and share the Bengal’s need for a game changer at that position.
Other draft needs are reflected in previous reports that suggested that likely early picks include O-Line and Safety. The O-Line requirements will depend in large part on where Andre Smith is playing next year. The team has repeatedly voiced their desire to resign the talented tackle with substantial home-grown experience but the team and his agent have broken off talks for now. Lose him and the O-Line becomes a major draft issue. Lose him to Cleveland and the D-Line becomes a draft issue as well.
At safety, the Bengals still look for a suitable partner for Reggie Nelson. Sources point to Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro who is expected to go in the first round. Vaccaro is praised as the top safety of the 2013 class not only for his deep range but, more importantly for the Bengals, his play at the line of scrimmage.
So, just as March begins to winds down, the team still faces a lot of down side potential with little to look forward to except the possibility of a rich draft class. Hopefully the staff’s desire to retain these veterans will come to pass leaving some flexibility as the draft approaches. Regardless, fans are anxious and will remain so until the team begins to exhibit some dominance in the NFC North and win some playoff games.