Oct 18, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Marcus Peters (21) runs on the field before the game against the Oregon Ducksat Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Fansided.com’s Josh Sanchez has the Bengals selecting former Washington Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters with their first-round selection in the upcoming draft. Before we get into this pick, let’s first highlight what Sanchez had to say.
"“The Bengals have made quite an effort to improve their secondary in recent drafts, but it hasn’t panned out quite yet. Because of that, Cincinnati has been forced to use veteran corners who are on the downside of their career so they need to find a way to get younger and improve if they want to take the next step.”"
It’s a strange pick for the Bengals to say the least. Sanchez says two interesting things here that are questionable at best.
First, the Bengals being “forced” to use veteran corners is awfully strange. All three of the Bengals’ veteran corners, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Leon Hall, have been highly productive over the course of their Bengal years. In fact, at the start of this season, Mike Tanier of the Bleacher Report ranked the Bengals’ secondary amongst the NFL’s best. Not that Tanier’s opinion means everything, but it is a sign of the secondary’s productivity.
To be fair, there’s little doubt that Newman began to fall off during the second half of the season, but prior to this, both he and Adam Jones were highly productive.
As for Leon Hall, prior to this season, he was no less than a stud, and especially in the slot. A second serious Achilles’ injury has now set him back, but being “forced” to use him heading into 2014 seems a little presumptuous considering his past ability following his first Achilles’ injury.
Also worth noting is the Bengals’ lack of a pass-rush this year. Regardless of how good a secondary is, if they are asked to cover guys for inordinate amounts of time, they are going to struggle. The Bengals failed to pressure quarterbacks throughout 2014–they had a league low 20 sacks on the year–and the secondary was often burnt after covering guys for all to long.
As for the young guys who are really slighted by this statement and when Sanchez says they haven’t “panned out,” we’ll first start with Dre Kirkpatrick. Again being fair, he has hardly been productive on defense since being selected in 2012. That said, Marvin Lewis has slow-played his hand with Kirkpatrick and, in the meantime, Kirkpatrick has displayed signs of development. For example, he played well in relief of Newman when he was getting beat up by the Broncos in Week 16 of this year. Kirkpatrick came in and finished the game with two interceptions against Peyton Manning. Kirkpatrick has struggled to defend double-moves during his young career, but the jury should still be out on him until he receives significant snaps on defense.
Also worth noting, Kirkpatrick was an especially good gunner on special teams this year. It’s hardly what you’d expect from a former first round selection, but again, until Lewis gives him significant defensive snaps, presumably in 2015, we won’t know exactly what Kirkpatrick is capable of.
As for Darqueze Dennard, like Kirkpatrick, Lewis has slow-played this hand also. Dennard was very solid on special teams this year, but has yet to be given much of a shot at corner.
If anything, much of the reasoning for their lack of defensive snaps lies with Lewis. He has historically preferred veterans over his youth, and at several times, to a fault. But with a well performing, veteran secondary in recent years, is there really blame to be assigned here or is it just the Bengals taking advantage of its incredible depth at one of the NFL’s most important positions?
I believe the Bengals selected Kirkpatrick and Dennard when seeing the “writing on the wall” for its aging secondary. I’m not going to say the two are locks to be highly productive players, but Sanchez’s assessment is awfully forward and damning of the two before they’ve even received a fair shot. In an NFL where players are often forced onto the field quickly, what’s wrong with training guys until they are ready for success, especially at one of the NFL’s most difficult positions and when your veterans seem to be performing well? I believe the correct analysis regarding the Bengals’ cornerback youth is “too early to tell,” and the Bengals’ secondary would be in the same position even if they drafted a third corner in the upcoming draft as no rookie is a lock.
With several holes to fill on the roster, and especially along the defensive line, this pick is hard to understand. There are several defensive ends and tackles left on Sanchez’s board, so this selection should cause fans to question the pick especially if the draft played out this way.
Check out Josh Sanchez’s entire mock draft here and let us know your thoughts afterwards.