It’s Never Sunny In Cincinnati or Bengals Draftology: Week 5

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Nov 26, 2011; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooner linebacker Tony Jefferson (1) in action against the Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Should the Bengals finish as a play-off team this year, they will be looking at a mid-to-late first round selection, 21st or lower. While there would be debatable value if top-prospect safety Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma) was still on the board, the Bengals have not taken a safety in the first round since Darryl Williams twenty years ago in 1992. In the Marvin Lewis era, nearly all drafted safeties have been mediocre at best, namely Madieu Williams (56th pick, 2004), Marvin White (114th pick, 2007), Cory Lynch (177th pick, 2008), Robert Sands (134th pick, 2011) and George Iloka (167th pick, 2012). Only the highly surprising Chinedum Ndukwe (253rd pick, 2007) sticks out as a worthwhile player to emerge, which perhaps displays a lack of institutional scouting ability towards young safeties. Nonetheless, perhaps now is the time to take the top player in order to create the priority fixture at the position?

Sep 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans safety T.J.


(7) during the game against the Hawaii Warriors at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Hawaii 49-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

However, should the Bengals consider waiting until the second or third rounds to select a strong safety, its highly unlikely that T.J. MacDonald (USC) will be considered as he was the understudy of Taylor Mays and a protégé of the same Southern California system. Robert Lester (Alabama) had a breakout year last year with the Crimson Tide’s Championship team in 2011, but has had a very quiet start to the 2012 season. Eric Reid (LSU) is still considered highly rated on most draft boards, but he’s more of a free safety and thus far has gotten torched in several games without Morris Claiborne or Tyrann Mathieu to pick up his slack.

More interesting right now are two relatively unknowns. First, dark horse: Bacarri Rambo (Georgia). Rambo could be the best pure strong safety available in this entire draft class, but he his off-field issues will certainly hurt his draft stock. Most obviously, Rambo hasn’t played a snap this season while serving a four-game suspension for violating the Bulldogs’ drug use policy. This early in the season it’s hard to predict how teams will weigh this against his ball hawk skills, which lead his team in interceptions last season with 7. At 6’0”, 218 lbs, Rambo has the build that the Bengals like, but the days of ‘redemption stories’ in Cincinnati seem fewer and further between as of late.

Sept 1, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns free safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) intercepts a pass intended for Wyoming Cowboys wide receiver Chris McNeil (80) during the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

Which leaves Kenny Vaccaro (Texas). Vaccaro is the sort of safety that probably has Coach Zimmer drooling already. At 6’1”, 215 lbs, Vaccaro notched 67 tackles for the Long Horns last year, with 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 7 broken up passes and 2 interceptions. In only the four games thus far this in his senior season, Vaccaro already has 22 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 pass defended. Currently projected as a second-to-third rounder, Vaccaro is the bone-crushing safety with a extra coachable skill-set who is very likely the Bengals’ primary target in this year’s draft.

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