Bengals Eye Defense at Six? Plus: Poll Results


The Cincinati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy passes along word from ESPN’s Todd McShay that the Bengals could take DE Brian Orakpo if he’s available at six.

Orakpo, along with DT B.J. Raji, are the two defenders most-talked about as the draft approaches, but the prospect of drafting either sends many Cincinnati fans into conniptions. A sizeable chunk of Bengalsdom is completely fixated on offensive tackle in the first — and they have good reason, considering the Bengals’ poor o-line play in 2008 — but whether they get their way likely comes down to how the team feels about Anthony Collins.

If, as has been rumored in recent days, the Bengals think Collins, who started the last six games in ’08 at left tackle, is capable of replacing oft-injured LT Levi Jones, then the need is on the right side. And while the consensus is that Alabama OT Andre Smith would be fine at that position, the sixth pick is pretty high for an RT.

Even if Collins is considered the Left Tackle of the Future, the Bengals could still take a tackle like Smith at six. Cincinnati has a habit of putting need in front of best player available in the first round, an instinct that has not always served them well. But it’s certainly quite possible that, if comfortable with Collins, the team will add a stud to the defense at the top of round one, and then look to fill in at RT in the second.

While this strategy doesn’t give the Bengals the quality of tackle that many fans crave, it has the virtue of avoiding the scenario painted by former Bengal John Thornton back in February.

"And don’t think that this won’t be a long holdout either. So I hope all of you OT lovers are taking that in to account. You want to take a guy and pay him 50 mill and prob hold out most of Training Camp? And then come in and protect Carson? Ok. Good luck with that. Believe me, his agent is gonna want more than what Ellis got and I don’t think he will get it very easily."

I agree with John: a holdout is virtually built in this year, meaning any first round OT probably spends a good chunk of the season appearing only as an extra blocker in short yardage packages. By contrast, at a position like defensive end, a player can hold out until the start of the season and still get up to speed and contribute quickly. That’s what happened with Justin Smith, who held out until just prior to the first game. He missed that game, but played the next 15 and contributed his usual eight sacks.

Likewise with Raji. The Bengals have two starters in Pat Sims and Domata Peko, so a holdout wouldn’t be fatal. And yes, they also have Tank Johnson, but Johnson is only signed for this year. Clearly, he’s looking for a big payday in 2010, and even if he plays well and Mike Brown is so inclined, the Bengals routinely get outbid in March. Orien Harris and Jason Shirley are, at this point, strictly backups.

Meanwhile, holding off at tackle until the second round means that tackle is almost certain to be in camp and working with the rest of the line on time. Of course, it also suggests that the Bengals don’t get one of the top-tier centers, but my gut has been telling me for a while that they are going to roll with Kyle Cook, Dan Santucci and Andrew Crummy. So cross your fingers there.

For what it’s worth, in the end I think the Bengals go with offensive tackle at six. Raji would be a bit of a luxury, Orakpo would add one too many big-bucks DEs and, as noted, historically the Bengals tend to lean heavily toward need in the first. But the case for waiting isn’t crazy if they like Collins at LT — and should Aaron Curry drop, maybe even if they don’t.

Also worth noting in Reedy’s report is that his sources say no team has offered even as much as a single third-round pick for for Chad Ochocinco. I can’t say I’m surprised, as I haven’t thought there was much of a market for him all year.

Fans who voted in our completely unscientific online poll agree with the front office’s decision not to dump Chad for whatever peanuts are offered. Fifty-two percent demanded at least a first or a package of picks including a first: 26% would accept a single first, 24% a first and a third, and 3% wanted two first round picks.

Another 31% wanted at least a second (17%) or a second and a fifth (14%).

Just 18% were willing to chuck Chad for whatever they could get: 3% only wanted a third, and 15% would trade him for a six-pack of near beer and a bag of no-salt chips.

Thanks to everyone who voted. New poll coming shortly.