2012 NFL Draft: Should Cincinnati Bengals Gamble on Notre Dame's Michael Floyd?

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs after catching a pass against the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. South Florida defeated Notre Dame 23-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals have a bigger problem at the wide receiver position than most think. A.J. Green is the future, but it’s cloudy beyond that point.

Jordan Shipley is attempting to recover from a major injury, Andrew Hawkins is too small to play every down and Ryan Whalen is an unknown. Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson are free agents.

As the NFL Draft approaches, the Bengals’ organization is attempting to figure out how to address the team’s main needs which are: safety, corner, wide receiver, running back and offensive guard. With two first round picks and the free agency period approaching, there are plenty of options.

One intriguing option comes in the form of Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. Floyd is a top-10 talent , but will free-fall because of character issues. He has been arrested for multiple alcohol-related incidents throughout his youth, including a drunken-driving citation last March.

However, on the field Floyd is unstoppable, and only second to Justin Blackmon in this year’s draft. Floyd posted 95 receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. He is very similar to the Miami Dolphins’ Brandon Marshall, and shouldn’t have an issue transitioning to the NFL.

Floyd is the type of player the Bengals love. He is huge at 6’3” and 224lbs and amazing when it comes to run blocking. In the AFC North, Floyd is a prototypical receiver. Lining Floyd up on the same field with A.J. Green will give Andy Dalton plenty of options on each snap.

While conventional wisdom says this won’t happen, especially because of Cincinnati’s history with diva receivers, it’s not all that unfathomable. Cincinnati has two first round picks. Why not take a risk on an elite talent?

If the Bengals were willing to take a risk on a project player like Jerome Simpson in the second round, or a project player like Dontay Moch, why not risk an extra pick that could put the team over the top for the next five years?

Other needs certainly need addressed, but there are plenty of other options. Running back can easily be solved in free agency, and the other first-rounder can be used on secondary help. Giving a second year quarterback three elite options in Green, Floyd and Jermaine Gresham would make the Bengals’ offense close to unstoppable.

Mike Brown loves to take risks on players if the cost isn’t too steep. Look at Cedric Benson and Adam Jones. With the new rookie wage scale, taking a risk on a player in the first round isn’t franchise-crippling like it used to be.

Some franchises believe in the best player available approach when confronting the NFL Draft each year. When Cincinnati picks at 17, Floyd will be the best player on the board. Floyd has a lot to prove in the days leading up to the draft, but his character concerns ensure he will be available to the Bengals.

While it isn’t the most pressing need, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals organization have to be at least looking at interviewing Floyd to evaluate his character for themselves. Weapons like Floyd aren’t available often; Bengals fans should know that thanks to A.J. Green.

While it’s a risk, adding Floyd with an extra pick seems like a smart gamble.  Adding a receiver that has the physicality of Brandon Marshall and the leaping ability of A.J. Green sounds like a great idea, despite the risk. Andy Dalton sure wouldn’t complain.