During the offseason and through the 2013 NFL Draft, the position that held the largest question mark was strong safety. The Bengals’ coaching staff’s perspective was that the drafting of third rounder Shawn Williams, the emergence of second year safety George Iloka, the situation of fourth year do-or-die candidate Taylor Mays, and the opportunism of special teams wild card Jeromy Miles gave Cincinnati the options they so looked for. Why was strong safety the obvious blemish? Because All three other corners and free safety were experienced and proven first rounders with one more waiting in the wings as a red-shirt rookie.
Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) makes a touchdown catch against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) at AT
With roughly a third of the season in the books, the secondary as a whole has been slightly exposed with regards to depth. The demonstrated fragility of our starting corner, 30-year old Leon Hall calls into question an overall effectiveness in the remaining 10 games, not to mention next season. Adam Jones, debatably one of the most talented nickel corners in the NFL, has managed to accumulate enough legal issues to make a parking ticket worthy of a 3-5 year sentence, which makes him a fragile entity in his own right. Further, the infrequency of Hall being healthy has led to Jones lining up as a coverage corner, which is not his best use.
Lastly, while he has been an anchor, Terrance Newman turned 35 last month.
The next generation of Cincinnati cornerbacks, Dre Kirkpatrick and Brandon Ghee, are proving an unsettling degree of brittleness as well. Between the two of them there is nearly three years of roster time, but less than third of a season of health. Both questionable in terms of field worth and physical condition, and currently they represent busts from what may have been otherwise lucrative draft picks; 1st and 3rd rounders respectfully.