With the 2013 NFL draft only two weeks away, the anticipation is beginning to drive me crazy. Over the last few years, it's been relatively easy to predict who the Cincinnati Bengals would wind up drafting.
This year, such is not the case. The field for Cincinnati is wide open, and despite being an upper-tier AFC team, there are a lot of holes they have the choice of choosing.
It seemed, early on, that Alec Ogletree would be a foregone conclusion for the team, but with the re-signing of Rey Maualuga, anything could happen across the middle of the defense. One clear need is safety—but will it be addressed in Round 1?
The draft is looming, and the following guys are likely possibilities for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Why attempt to hide from the (potentially) obvious choice? Ever since the 2012 season ended with the disappointing loss in Houston, most experts have thought Ogletree would be the pick in the Queen City. Maualuga was fresh off an embarrassing performance, so the need was there.
Now, the team has re-signed the former Trojan, leaving a question mark across the middle. It is no surprise that Vontaze Burfict will move to the middle, but Dan Skuta is gone and so may be Thomas Howard, so a linebacker is still a necessary move.
At the combine, Ogletree, a former safety, performed 20 benches and a decent 122-inch broad jump. He's a hard hitter who knows how to drop into coverage, so despite the potential for off-the-field issues, it's a gamble CIncinnati should be willing make.
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Recently, Cyprien has been garnering a lot of attention from Bengals' fans, as safety is probably the biggest need on the Bengals' roster. Reggie Nelson makes a fine free safety, but there's really no strong safety to help.
Enter Cyprien, who is a great tackler and is able to cover the slot man rather easily. He can occasionally over-run on the play action, but with his blazing speed, he'll be an excellent addition in coverage.
The knock on him for now is that he played at FIU, and not some big name school. That shouldn't be a cause for concern, he has the ability and raw talent to pick up on the NFL game.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Perhaps the unlikeliest member of this list, Kenny Vaccaro is probably the highest touted safety prospect on this list. There doesn't seem to be many flaws that teams can find in his game, so the odds of him falling to the Bengals are slim.
Still, if he's there, this should be the guy they jump on. Vaccaro is good in coverage and makes great open field tackles. Additionally, he's good for some blitzes here and there, sort of like Troy Polamalu.
He's also tremendous in switching directions and is able to catch up if he makes a mistake. For the Bengals, Vaccaro would be an A+ selection.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Thus far, the Bengals have been unsuccessful in re-signing right tackle Andre Smith. Hence, the new thought is that they need to draft to replace him, and what better way to do that than to draft another member of the Crimson Tide?
Fluker is, admittedly, not as strong as Smith, but makes up for it with his massive hands and ability to clear lanes because of how quick he is. Given his massive size at 6-5, 340 pounds, he has stunningly quick footwork to keep defensive ends from getting by him.
I'd say that offensive tackle should be a last resort in Round 1, but should Smith sign elsewhere at some point in the coming weeks, Fluker could be in Orange and Black next year.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Originally, Lacy was thought to be a potential second- or third-round selection. Following the championship game against Notre Dame and a solid performance down the stretch of the season as a whole, there isn't much doubt that he's a first rounder.
The Bengals already have BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but the absence of a good second back became detrimental as the season wore on. Green-Ellis does not have the stamina or the drive to be the lone back on the team—he needs a speedster to complement his pure power.
Bengal fans would certainly have no problem getting a running back for the future, seeing as there really hasn't been one since the days of Corey Dillon.
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