Fun With a Mock Draft


Since the high point of most Bengals’ seasons over the last two decades has been draft day I, like many Cincinnati fans, am something of a draftnik. I admit to having a weakness for the silliness that is “mock drafts,” and since the Bengals are well out of playoff contention, I’ve begun to brows the early mocks posted around the intertubes. One of my first stops every year is Walter Cherepinsky’s site. And indeed, Walter already has a three-round mock up — updated yesterday to boot. Here’s how he sees the first three rounds shaking out for the Bengals.

Round one, first overall pick:

"Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss How pathetic is the Bengals’ offensive line? They’ve surrendered 28 sacks this season and allowed their backs to gain just 3.4 yards per carry. As a result, Carson Palmer is likely out for the year and Ryan Fitzpatrick is helplessly running around and losing brain cells whenever he hits the turf. It’s only a matter of time before he and Emmitt and giving you fantasy football advice on Sportscenter.The Bengals are 0-8 because they have tons of needs. That’s obvious. But they must improve their offensive front before anything else."

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that pick, and Walter is right that upgrading the o-line is job No. 1 for the coming offseason. Oher would be a solid addition to a line that’s lost longtime center Rich Braham, guard Eric Steinbach and tackle Willie Anderson over the last three years, and which will likely bid farewell to tackle Stacy Andrews next March.

However, there are countervailing considerations that may push the Bengals in a different direction.

While left tackle Levi Jones is, after multiple knee procedures in the last two years, not the player he once was, he was given a six-year, $40 million contract extension in 2006 and Bengals owner Mike Brown is always loath to eat that kind of financial hit. And just this past offseason, the team extended tackle Andrew Whitworth, a second-round pick in ’06 who is currently playing left guard, through 2013 in a deal reportedly worth up to $30 million. Whitworth filled in ably at left tackle for the injured Jones in 2007.

Finally, the Bengals spent a fourth-round pick last April on Kansas tackle Anthony Collins. A junior who came out early, Collins slipped to the fourth in part due to a bumper crop of talent at the tackle position in the 2008 draft. Collins has gotten only limited work in short yardage packages this season, but the Bengals appear fairly high on him. The team’s fourth tackle, Scott Kooistra is capable but strictly a backup.

Oher in the first would require the Bengals to either tie up an awful lot of money at the tackle spot, or to take a big hit by axing Jones. They may not be prepared to do that. I could easily see them, for example, moving Jones to right tackle and putting either Whitworth or Collins at left. I’m not saying that would be a better idea than taking Oher, just that there are strong reasons to believe the Bengals will go in a different direction.

Round two, 33rd overall pick:

"George Selvie, DE, South FloridaAs the Giants have shown us, it’s all about getting pressure on the quarterback. The Bengals haven’t really tried their hardest all year, but the fact remains that they have a grand total of six sacks through eight weeks.The Bengals signed defensive end Antwan Odom to a $25 million deal this offseason, but he can’t even get on to the field. In eight games, Odom has 18 tackles and two sacks. Guess all of his production in Tennessee was the result of the opposition focusing on Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch."

Again, Walter’s logic is impeccable — but again, there are countervailing considerations.

The biggest of these is one many mockers either forget about or are not aware of: the Bengals have not one high-priced defensive end already, but two. Following a 2006 season in which he piled up 10.5 sacks as a pass rush specialist, the Bengals gave DE Robert Geathers, a fourth-round selection in ’04, a six-year, $32.5 million deal. Since the rule on the Bengals is, if you get paid, you play (whether or not you perform), Bengals coaches currently have problems finding snaps for DE Frostee Rucker, their third-rounder in 2006, who has actually looked good in what limited time he has seen. Where they would find a spot for Selvie, I don’t know. To top things off, the Bengals also inked DE Jonathan Fanene to a three-year extension earlier this year.

Taking a defensive end high in the draft, as much as it make sense from a pass rush point of view, again runs into roster and money questions. One answer might be to move Geathers to the strong-side LB spot, where he played some last season due to the crazy string of injuries the Bengals suffered at linebacker. But Geathers didn’t impress at LB, although to be fair he might look better with a full offseason and camp working at the position. But even if they did that and then took Selvie, I’m not sure it would bolster the rush, since the problem is less about the ends and more about the lack of disruption from the DT spot. The Bengals need a stud DT more than they need a stud DE.

Round three, 65th overall pick:

"Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan StateChris Perry is a fumbling machine, and it’s not like his YPC makes up for it. Cedric Benson isn’t the answer either. The Bengals need a legitimate running back."

Well, while Walter may not think Benson is the answer, and I might even agree, the Bengals may not. It will be interesting to see where the Bengals rank their need at RB come draft day. It may not be this high…or it could be even higher.

For Walter’s consideration in his future mock efforts, I’d like to point out two other positions, besides the aforementioned DT, that the Bengals could target in the first couple of rounds. Those would be center and linebacker.

The Bengals’ current center, Eric Ghaicuic, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is not expected to be re-signed. His backup, Dan Santucci, a converted guard the Bengals took in the seventh round in 2007, is on injured reserve, and their third center is current right guard Bobbie Williams. When it comes to the Bengals o-line, center is by far the biggest position of need, and I have to think they would kill to get their hands on Alex Mack. The trouble is, the first overall is way to high, and he likely won’t last until the top of the second.

At linebacker, the Bengals still lack a playmaker, even after taking Keith Rivers last April. Dhani “Bow Tie” Jones is starting in the middle, and the strong side in being manned by Rashad Jeanty, a former CFL DE. Can you say “Rey Maualuga in the first?” I thought so…