Running back isn’t necessarily a high priority, but the Cincinnati Bengals could look to the 2014 NFL Draft for an upgrade. Giovani Bernard had a big impact as a rookie, totaling more than 1,200 total yards and eight touchdowns, but the run game overall was lackluster. BenJarvus Green-Ellis continued to be effective in short yardage situations, but rushed for a career low 3.4 yards per carry. Nobody else contributed much beyond special teams.
1. Carlos Hyde: If Hyde falls to the third round, he’d be hard to pass on, even if the Bengals aren’t looking for an early running back. He’s a big and powerful runner, who still has breakaway ability. He could be a number one back on many teams, and paired with Bernard, they could be a lethal combination. He also rarely goes down behind the line of scrimmage, and makes an impact in short distance situations.
2. Terrance West: The Bengals have expressed some interest in West, having a conversation with the Towson product recently. He’s another strong runner, though lower to the ground than Hyde. His strong legs and quick feet make him hard to bring down in the open field, and his vision gets him to the right place more often than not.
3. Jeremy Hill: Hill comes with some off-field baggage, but there’s no denying his talent. He’s elusive in traffic, but doesn’t shy away from contact. He also has better than expected speed, and can break away if he gets to the second level. The Bengals have shown they will take on guys with character issues if the value is there, and Hill is value if he falls to round four.
4. Tyler Gaffney: While Gaffney doesn’t dominate in any one area, he does everything well enough. He’s a strong runner, and solid receiver. He fights for extra yardage, and could be a good short-yardage back. He doesn’t have much in the way of speed, but he makes up for it with determination. His durability and conditioning are a plus as well.
5. James Wilder Jr: Wilder is used to sharing carries as part of a system, having split duties at Florida State. He combines drive with above average speed and agility, and could be a natural fit as part of a one-two combination with Bernard. He could be a late-round steal.