The 2014 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and fans and media alike are in prognostication mode, trying to predict who will be taken with which picks. There are a few positions that the Cincinnati Bengals could target, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. One position of need, and a possibility early in the draft, is defensive end, where the team lost one of their key players in Michael Johnson. The Bengals drafted Margus Hunt last year, but he’s still an unknown, and another early pick could help solidify the line. There are some solid prospects available that could have a future in stripes.
Kony Ealy: The former Missour Tiger is the number two defensive end in the draft. Ealy can line up all along the line, including at tackle on passing downs, which is something that will make him attractive to many teams. At 6’4″ and over 270 lbs, he has the requisite size, while possessing good quickness and burst. He needs some work in the run game, but is a very good pass rusher who could be special. He’s an option in the first round if he lasts long enough.
Dee Ford: At 6’2, and 252 lbs, Ford would go against the grain of what the Bengals usually look for. However, he is extremely fast, and a danger to opposing quarterbacks. There is some question as to whether he can hold up at defensive end, or if he’ll be better as a 3-4 rush linebacker, but the Bengals could see him as a situational pass rusher who plays on passing downs.
Kareem Martin: If the Bengals decide to take a different position in the first round, a player like Kareem Martin could be targeted in the second. Martin is long and powerful, though he’s not as explosive as some of the other players. He needs work on certain areas of his game, but could be a solid rotational player right away and could become an every-down guy at some point.
Marcus Smith: Smith is another defensive end who isn’t huge, but who could still be a solid 4-3 defensive end at the NFL level. His athleticism and intelligence were on constant display at Louisville, where he dominated. He’s a terrific pass rusher, but he is also adequate against the run. He seems destined to go in the second round, and it could be to Cincinnati.
Will Clarke: The Bengals once drafted Michael Johnson, largely based on potential and athleticism. Clarke could be taken as a third round pick for similar reasons. He has the height the Bengals like, at 6’7″, and he is also explosive. He brings a good variety of moves, and could make an outstanding option in Cincinnati’s defensive line rotation, especially on passing downs.