The Cincinnati Bengals are quickly approaching what may be the most important draft in franchise history—the 2012 NFL Draft. As draft day looms closer and closer, there are still several questions left unanswered and a variety of storylines yet to reach their conclusions.
The Bengals have been extremely active this offseason in upgrading the roster, but several questions still remain. Who will be the starting running back? Who will be starting right guard? What happens to depth at cornerback with Leon Hall potentially unavailable?
The Bengals have been proactive by attending a plethora of pro days and individual workouts, but it remains to be seen how their offseason moves will impact the draft.
This slideshow will chronicle every pro day and individual workout the Bengals have been involved in as well as aggregate every rumored and speculated interest in prospects the team may select come draft day.
Let’s get right down to business.
The Bengals were present at Georgia's Pro-Day to see Cordy Glenn
The Bengals have had a flurry of activity in the last few months as they prepare for the draft. They've had a variety of prospects visit and even workout for the team, and they even traveled to see specific players at college pro days.
Here is a list of prospects that have visited the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason:
- David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech (Worked out privately for Bengals)
- Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana (Worked out privately for Bengals)
- Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western State (Worked out privately for Bengals)
- Ernest Owusu, DE, California (Worked out privately for Bengals)
- Chris Anzevino, C, Kansas State (Worked out privately for Bengals)
- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
- Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
- Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
- Ryan Davis, LB, Bethune-Cookman
- Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
- Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
- Devin Goda, WR, Slippery Rock
(Prospects visiting data courtesy of Profootballtalk.com)
Players visiting teams aren't typically indicative of what the team plans to do come draft day, but this usually just represents the team doing its due diligence in preparation for the draft.
That trend may change this year.
Upon further examination of the above list, it becomes very apparent that the Bengals are aligning their visits and workouts with their most pressing needs: a second wide receiver, an offensive guard, a pass-rushing specialist and depth in the secondary. It's safe to say the team is doing a good job of examining prospects that fill a need that will be available in various rounds.
Here is a list of pro days the Bengals have attended (and players they were potentially looking at):
- Notre Dame (WR Michael Floyd, S Harrison Smith)
- Fresno State (WR Devon Wylie, OLB Kyle Knox)
- South Carolina (CB Stephon Gilmore, DE Melvin Ingram, WR Alshon Jeffery, S Antonio Allen)
- Cal Poly (RB Mark Rodgers)
- Arkansas State (OLB Demario Davis, S Kelcie McCray)
- Vanderbilt (CB Casey Hayward)
- Stanford (G David DeCastro)
- Boise State (RB Doug Martin, S George lloka)
- Boston College (LB Luke Kuechly)
- Texas (LB Emmanuel Acho)
- Iowa State (OG Kelechi Osemele, CB Leonard Johnson)
- Iowa (OT Riley Reiff, WR Marvin McNutt)
- Wake Forest (WR Chris Givens, OLB Kyle Wilber)
- Arizona State (LB Vontaze Burfict)
- Temple (RB Bernard Pierce)
- Oregon (RB LaMichael James)
- Wayne State (OT Joe Long)
- Florida State (OT Zebrie Sanders)
- Oklahoma (LB Ronnell Lewis, CB Jamell Fleming)
- Oklahoma State (WR Justin Blackmon, FS Markelle Martin)
- FIU (WR T.Y. Hilton)
- Furman (CB Ryan Steed)
- Ohio State (OT Mike Adams, C Michael Brewster)
- Ole Miss (OT Bobby Massie)
- Wisconsin (WR Nick Toon, OG Kevin Zeitler, C Peter Konz)
- Ohio (WR LaVon Brazill, LB Noah Keller)
- USC (DE Nick Perry)
- Washington (RB Chris Polk)
- Indiana (WR Damarlo Belcher)
- Arkansas (DE Jake Bequette, WR Greg Childs, WR Joe Adams)
- Auburn (OT Brandon Mosley)
- Alabama (CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Mark Barron, RB Trent Richardson, LB Courtney Upshaw, LB Dont'a Hightower
- Georgia Tech (WR Stephen Hill)
- Georgia (OG Cordy Glenn)
- Illinois (DE Whitney Mercilus
- Hawaii (DT Vaughn Meatoga)
- Cincinnati (RB Isaiah Pead, DT Derek Wolfe)
- Miami OH (OT Brandon Brooks)
Whew. It appears as if the Bengals are going to be extremely well versed on a plethora of prospects come draft day. This in-depth approach to the draft will allow the Bengals to form an intricate big board and pick exactly who they want in each round.
Will the Bengals trade up for Alabama's Trent Richardson?
Arguably the most intriguing aspect of every draft is the potential for trades during the event. The Bengals don't typically trade on draft day, but the possibility is always there.
There is also always the possibility the Bengals will trade some of their own players for additional picks in the upcoming draft. They did this recently when they traded oft-injured linebacker Keith Rivers to the New York Giants for a fifth-round pick, upping their count of fifth rounders to three.
Outside of the Rivers trade, the Bengals don't appear to be involved in any other trade talks. They seem content enough with their current roster that the only other transactions will now come in the form of draft picks.
The Bengals don't need to trade for other players or picks now. The team doesn't trade often, but when they have recently, they have won big. This includes getting compensation for Rivers and the now infamous Carson Palmer trade that gave the Bengals an additional first-round draft pick this year.
Trade Speculation Looms Large in Cincinnati
Speaking of having two first-round picks, that luxury has ignited a whirlwind storm of trade speculation.
This move would make sense given the Bengals need for a second receiver, but no move has been made because Wallace would demand so much money.
There has also been speculation that the Bengals could package picks together to move up in the first round to select a number of prospects, one being Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
Trading up isn't exactly the Bengals' style and likely won't be this year. The team seems content on having an opportunity to select two elite first-round prospects rather than giving up picks and only receiving one first-round talent.
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com has recently confirmed the Bengals don't appear to be in any kind of draft-trade talks.
Kevin Zeitler is a great option for Cincy in the first two rounds.
When looking at the roster, that means the Bengals have Bell, Wharton, Clint Boling and Otis Hudson occupying the position. Wharton is the starter, but there isn’t a starting-caliber player on the roster at right guard.
The Bengals have publicly stated they are open to bringing back former starting right guard Bobbie Williams, but that’s a long shot considering Williams is 36 years old and recovering from a broken ankle.
That leaves the Bengals with only the draft to find a starting right guard. Luckily for them the draft is littered with quality offensive line prospects.
In the first round the Bengals could select Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn. Either could come in and immediately be the starter. Glenn is listed as a tackle but could easily move inside.
The second round could see the Bengals take Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler if he falls that far. He could also be a starter. Amini Silatolu is another option in the second, and the team is reportedly very high on him.
After the first round the Bengals aren’t likely to find a starting-caliber guard, but quality depth that could crate healthy competition. Options include Brandon Brooks, James Brown and Brandon Washington.
The wildcard for the Bengals in the first and second round is Wisconsin center Peter Konz. He's far and away the best center in the draft, and the Bengals are reportedly considering taking him at 21st overall. He could either replace Kyle Cook at center or slide inside and contribute as a quality starting guard.
With two first round picks it’s a safe bet the Bengals are going to find a starting guard in the first two rounds. Who that is remains to be seen but it’s an assuring feeling for fans knowing that the offensive line as a whole should be better than the unit from a year ago.
Dre Kirkpatrick is a great way to add some youth to the Cincy secondary.
The Bengals have never truly recovered from the loss of cornerback Jonathan Joseph. However, Nate Clements played well last year, as did Adam Jones in place of Leon Hall, who suffered a torn Achilles.
The team addressed the cornerback position multiple times via free agency by signing Jason Allen and Terence Newman. They also re-signed corner Jones and safeties Reggie Nelson and Jeromy Miles.
For those keeping track, that means the Bengals have solid depth at corner that will allow Hall to land on the PUP list if not fully recovered in time for the start of the season. It also means they have a starting free safety in Nelson, with an open competition at strong safety between Taylor Mays, Robert Sand and Miles.
If the Bengals want to add another safety, there are a few options to consider in the draft including Alabama’s Mark Barron and Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith—both who will go in the first or second rounds. There’s also Brandon Taylor of LSU and Antonio Allen of South Carolina, who will probably remain available until the third and fourth rounds.
The Bengals need to draft a young corner early, and it’s one of the deepest positions in the draft. In the team’s first three picks, they have a variety of talented youth to choose from, including
- Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
- Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
- Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
- Josh Robinson, UCF
- Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
- Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
- Trumaine Johnson, Montana
- Brandon Boykin, Georgia
Any of these prospects could come in and provide great depth while learning the intricacies of the position from veterans like Hall and Clements. Whoever they select won't see much playing time this upcoming season but will groomed to be a starter for the season after and beyond.
It's highly likely the team will use one of their first-round picks on a corner since it's still a necessity for the future with only Allen and Hall under contract after next season. It's becoming less likely the Bengals will use an early pick on a safety with the team appearing comfortable with the young prospects already on the roster.
Kendall Wright would make for a great option across from A.J. Green.
The Bengals were fortunate enough to land A.J. Green in the draft last year, and he quickly turned out be a top 20 receiver in the league. The team was lacking a solid second option across from him for most of the season.
The second option last year was the acrobatic Jerome Simpson, who was inconsistent at best. He’s in a heap of legal trouble related to a marijuana charge, so it’s doubtful he’ll be back with the team.
The Bengals are very high on Armon Binns, a player who resided on the practice squad some of last season. It’s hard to see Binns being a number two receiver with his lack of experience, but the team thinks they may have something there.
If the front office wants to confront the issue early in the draft, there will be plenty of option in their first three picks come draft day:
- Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
- Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
- Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
- Kendall Wright, Baylor
- Rueben Randle, LSU
- Chris Givens, Wake Forest
- Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
Taking a receiver in the draft is an intriguing option as Cincinnati is simply searching for a number two option—someone who is consistent and can be more of a possession receiver. Think T.J. Houshmanzadeh across from Chad Johnson.
There are plenty of options in the later rounds to fill this need as well, including Brian Quick, Nick Toon and Marvin Jones. The Bengals have also reportedly shown a lot of interest in Iowa's Marvin McNutt who fits the bill of a second option perfectly.
It's hard to predict who will be the number two receiver, but it's a safe bet he's on this slide somewhere.
Doug Martin could quickly become the starting back in Cincy.
The Bengals allowed Cedric Benson, the starter from a year ago, to hit the open market (to which he has found no market) and addressed the void he left by signing former New England Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The team wants to move to a running-back-by-committee approach in a similar vein to what the New Orleans Saints utilize. The Bengals have a rotation they could work with right now in Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman.
With that being said, the team could still use a proper number one back. The Bengals have a variety of options with their first three picks to find a feature back for their new rotation. Running back, like corner and wide receiver, is one of the deepest positions in the draft. Here are the options the Bengals have in their first three picks:
- Doug Martin, Boise State
- David Wilson, Virginia Tech
- LaMichael James, Oregon
- Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati
- Chris Polk, Washington
- Lamar Miller, Miami
Of course, there's also Trent Richardson of Alabama, who is being hailed as the best back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson. At this point it's unlikely he'll make it to the Bengals first pick.
Any of the guys listed above would fit right into the Bengals' new committee approach. It's almost certain the team will use one of its first three picks to address the need.