Aug 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Michael Palmer (81) gets tackled by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55), safety Taylor Mays (26) and safety Reggie Nelson (20) during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals have the depth at nearly every position on their roster to allow them to not only win the AFC North, but make a deep run in the postseason. But one hole that still remains is at safety. Reggie Nelson returns to man his free safety spot and play centerfield for Mike Zimmer’s defense while his exotic blitz schemes wreak havoc among opposing offenses.
But he still needs a proven strong safety to be able to blitz off the edge, cover tight ends, and occasionally drop back into deep coverage. As of now, no other safety on the roster has proven they can do all three of those things consistently, and that’s why ESPN’s Jamison Hensley called the Bengals’ decision to not add a veteran there will be their biggest offseason regret:
"Add a proven starter at strong safety. This is a move the Bengals have needed to make for a couple of seasons. Cincinnati has talent and depth throughout a defense that should end up being one of the top five in the NFL this season. The soft spot on defense is at safety, where the Bengals will start Taylor Mays, Shawn Williams or George Iloka. This was a trouble spot last season when the Bengals shuffled Mays, Jeromy Miles and Nate Clements at strong safety for the first four games before re-signing Chris Crocker. The Bengals passed on a free-agent safety in his prime, Dashon Goldson, even though they were among the teams with the most salary-cap room entering free agency. At this point, the Bengals have a top-notch free safety in Reggie Nelson and a big question mark at strong safety."