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Cincinnati Bengals: 2012 NFL Draft Needs

Contributed by: Bill Enright and Mike Lietz
Last Updated: Apr 25, 2012 5:54 PM



Despite finishing 3rd in the tough AFC North, the Bengals made it to the playoffs thanks to a 9-7 record. Rookie QB Andy Dalton looked like he could help this team win for years to come, making this year’s Draft crucial for the Bengals future success. Cincinnati has 9 picks in this year’s draft including two 1st Round selections thanks to  the deal with the Raiders for Carson Palmer. (1.17, 1.21, 2.21, 3.20, 4.21, 5.21, 5.31, 5.32, 6.21).

Offense

Wide Receiver:Jerome Simpson just signed a deal with the Vikings which opens up a spot in the starting lineup alongside last year’s Rookie sensation AJ Green.  It seems the Bengals may have found their next franchise QB in Andy Dalton and now it’s time to get him some weapons. If Cincy manages to get one of the many talented WRs in this year’s class we could be looking at one of the NFL’s next best Offenses. It sounded funny even as we typed that, but both Dalton and Green are only 2nd year players. The Bengals are one more playmaker away from becoming very-very dangerous for years to come. 
Possible Targets: Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (early-round), Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech (early-round), Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (early-round), Kendall Wright, Baylor (early-round), Juron Criner, Arizona (mid-round), Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M (mid-round).

Running Back:Cincy avoided resigning Cedric Benson and instead brought in BenJarvus Green-Ellis via Free Agency. We love BJGE but we’ve only seen him spend time in a Running Back By Committee in New England. Can he carry the full load by his lonesome?
Possible Targets: LaMichael James, Oregon (early-round), Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State (mid-round), Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky (late-round)

Guard: The Bengals have two openings on their roster for Offensive Guards thanks to the departure of Nate Livings (signed with the Cowboys) and Bobbie Williams (unsigned Free Agent). In 2011 Cincy didn’t draft any Offensive Lineman, so we think they’ll add some youth to this unit in the early-rounds.
Possible Targets: David DeCastro, Stanford (1st Round), Peter Konz, Wisconsin, (1st Round), Ben Jones, Georgia (early-round), Brandon Brooks, Miami of Ohio (mid-round).
Defense
 
Safety: Cincinnati re-signed Reggie Nelson to a four-year deal worth $18M, but handed 32-year-old vet Chris Crocker his walking papers and Gibril Wilson is a free agent. Former linebacker Taylor Mays is still learning at strong safety, and upgrading depth at both spots behind versatile 2011 fifth-rounder Robert Sands should be a priority for the Bengals.
Possible Targets: Harrison Smith, Notre Dame (early-round); Charles Mitchell, Mississippi St. (mid-round); Johnny Thomas, Oklahoma St. (late-round)

Cornerback: Leon Hall is coming off a torn Achilles tendon, and is frankly nothing special when healthy. The other starter, Nate Clements, is on the decline at 32 and a free agent in 2013. The Bengalsre-signed the erratic Pacman Jones to a one-year deal and added Jason Allen in free agency, but could still use better depth here, and should start grooming a successor to Clements.
Possible Targets: Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama (early-round); Josh Robinson, UCF (mid-round); Emanuel Davis, East Carolina (late-round)  

Linebacker: Re-signed Manny Lawson to a one-year deal to anchor the strong-side and add some pop as a pass rusher. Rey Maualuga should continue to develop into an anchor at middle linebacker after ranking second on the club with 88 tackles over just 13 starts in 2011, while Thomas Howard gets the job done on the weak-side and is coming off a 99-tackle campaign. But the brittle Keith Rivers is yet to perform anywhere near lofty expectations after being the No. 9 pick of the 2008 Draft, and the Bengals lack a true impact starter at one of their three spots. Depth is thin as well. 
Possible Targets: Zach Brown, UNC (early-round); Nigel Bradham, Florida St. (mid-round); Nathan Stupar, Penn St. (late-round) 

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