Bengals NFL Draft Roundtable: Trading Up, Down, or Staying Put at #21
By Shawn Maher
With NFL Draft a little more than 24 hours away now, we got our staff together to get their final thoughts on what the Cincinnati Bengals should do come Thursday night.
“Who should be the Bengals first draft selection at pick #21?, and should they trade the pick and move up or back?”
Jan 4, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin (1) runs the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the 2012 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
If he is there, I would select Tavon Austin. Before getting up in arms, hear me out. I love Baby Hawk as much as the next guy. He’s the poor man’s Percy Harvin and Darren Sproles, I agree. But wouldn’t you rather have Darren Sproles or Percy Harvin? I would.
And that’s what you get with Austin. The Bengals are not afraid to continue investing in weapons for Andy Dalton, what better than the most explosive offensive player in this draft? I hope people continue to discount him due to his size, because when all is said and done, Austin will be the best skill position player in this draft. And I do agree that the Bengals should consider a tackle to replace Andre Smith, whose one great season shouldn’t outweigh (pun intended) his years of underachievement. But this is one of the deepest classes ever for offensive linemen, let’s look at Terron Armstead on the second day.
Now that the defensive front seven has been shored up and cornerback position fortified, the biggest needs are safety, change of pace running back and a home-run threat for Dalton and A.J. Green’s sake. I’m not sure if Austin can play safety, but he has the other two covered.
And if Austin is gone, then let’s take a look at Kenny Vaccaro or Jonathan Cyprien.
If I am the Bengals I am trying to trade back a few picks with my eye on Jonathan Cyprien. Safety is the biggest need on this team IMO and he I think he is the best one in the draft. He is very good against the run, but also has the athleticism and the skill to play back in the zone. He makes good reads on the ball and has the ability to extend and pick it off. He would be perfect to pair with Reggie Nelson and could really elevate this defense to the next level.
I think the Bengals need to trade up. Like I have said before, Reggie Nelson is really good, but that is only one safety. His zone cannot take up the whole width of the field. Chris Crocker is old, and Taylor Mays just isn’t that good. Kenny Vaccaro is the best safety in this draft, and safety is the biggest need on this team. Vaccaro can cover very well, and actually caught Tavon Austin. He was one of, if not the only thing that shined on that Texas defense. He is also solid against the run, and is a hard hitter. We need a linebacker and a runningback, but that is what the 2nd and 3rd rounds are for.
The pick will depend on a few things, one is Andre Smith resigned, two who is available, and three can they pick up a first next year or a second this year if they trade back. Like every draft there will be a player who drops, similar to David DeCastro and Riley Rieff last year, and if San Francisco offers a 1st and 2nd to come up and pick one of those fallers, I want to say take it. However, the team has 10 draft picks and only 6-7 make the team, so adding more draft picks this year may not be the best option.
It’s obvious if a player like Tavon Austin, Lane Johnson, or Xavier Rhodes is there at #21 you take him, the pick at 21 should be the highest player on their board and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bengals pick seems like a reach/not need pick to some.
At #21, the Bengals should select Tyler Eifert. I know a TE doesn’t seem like a need, but what is needed are tough third down catches and more touchdowns in the redzone. Eifert is one of the cleanest prospects in the draft and could line up tight or split out. The pick would also allow the team to trade or move on from Gresham who’s madding consistently/limited blocking has been the angst of Bengals fans.
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