This pick is tough to call. Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are quietly having a productive offseason heading into the draft, May 8-10. The Bengals are doing what good teams do, not taking big risks in free agency and worrying about inking their own long term. Look for the Bengals to have another solid draft, and start with Cornerback, Defensive end, or best overall player available at 24. Who will be the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft?
Look for Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. At 5’11” and 199lbs, Dennard is shorter than current Bengal corner, and 2012 first rounder Dre Kirkpatrick. His physical play, and 4.51 40 yard dash speed more than make up for whatever Dennard is lacking in height.
Known as a very physical player, Darqueze Dennard compares very similarly to Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns. Dennard, like Haden, is known for hard hits, solid man to man coverage, and an ability to time the ball and break it up at its highest point. Dennard would certainly add youth and depth to an aging Bengals secondary. While waiting for his chance, he could easily learn behind current corners Adam Jones, Terrence Newman, and Leon Hall, with the eventual goal to have him and Dre Kirkpatrick on the field simultaneously.
If Dennard is not available at 24, the Bengals should still pick a cornerback here, and go with Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State. Roby who is also a physical man to man corner, might be more of a stretch at 24, due to possible off the field issues, but when has that ever stopped Cincinnati in the draft? Roby is similar size to Dennard, played in the same conference, and Mike Brown loves Ohio State. It is very possible that even with Dennard on the board, the Bengals pass him up and pick Bradley Roby.
Both Roby and Dennard help the Bengals achieve one main goal, get faster at speed positions. With Cleveland eying Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson with the 4th pick to accompany Josh Gordon, and the Steelers looking to add a wide out, or tight end with the 15th pick, and the Ravens already adding Steve Smith to join Torrey Smith, it is crucial the Bengals add depth, speed and youth to the cornerback position. In a league that is passing driven, guarding the pass is becoming increasingly important. Solid, shut down cornerbacks are necessary on defense, and are rarely available beyond the first round.