Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Alec Ogletree remains one of the most coveted options at the linebacker position by the Bengals.
Two things are very clear concerning the linebacker position in this year's draft. First, Cincinnati will most definitely be selecting a linebacker to fill a serious need. Second, the position will be drafted very early—possibly with their first or second pick.
Now that the linebacker need has been cleared up, one question remains. Exactly which linebackers should the Bengals target in the draft?
First, we must look at which linebacker position holds the most need for the Bengals on the roster.
There is no need for a middle linebacker this year as the Bengals have re-signed Rey Maualuga and also are considering moving second-year player Vontaze Burfict back into his natural position in the middle (via Bengals.com).
If Burfict slides inside, Maualuga will be moved to the SAM position where he started his first two years in the league. This leaves a gap at the WILL position which was manned by Burfict last year after the injury to Thomas Howard.
Howard and the Bengals have been very quiet in free agency, thus far and there could possibly be zero interest from either side in a reunion.
This means that the Bengals will have to find a new starter at the position during the draft.
There are several key prospects that can fill the weak-side linebacker void. A weak-side backer should be fast in pursuit to close in on a ball-carrier from behind. Also, he will need to have great block-shedding ability as he will be used as a pass-rusher. Finally, he will need fluid hips to drop back in coverage on a running back or tight end.
The linebackers that best fit the mold are Arthur Brown of Kansas State, Alec Ogletree of Georgia, and Khaseem Greene of Rutgers. Brown will most certainly be a first-round pick and may not be there by 21 overall. Ogletree could slide to the second after an offseason DUI arrest (via ESPN), but it is not guaranteed. Greene could certainly be the guy as he has been dubbed a solid second-round grade.
Any of these three players will surely benefit the Bengals immediately and would be able to start at the WILL position right away.