Cincinnati Bengals Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update
With the draft now less than 24 hours away, the Cincinnati Bengals most certainly have their big board ready and all of their top prospects in order.
There are several holes that need filling on the Bengals roster for the upcoming season. These positions include safety, offensive tackle, linebacker and running back. Other positions are still considered a need, but are not in as dire straits as the aforementioned areas.
The Bengals have the 21st overall selection in this year's draft and should have an abundance of choices with the pick. Generally, fans and draft pundits can somewhat agree on the upcoming selection, but not this year.
Cincinnati has been mocked all over the place with a first-round pick, ranging from defensive end to cornerback to running back, safety, offensive line, etc. Any of these positions would give the Bengals an immediate upgrade, but the prospect that Cincinnati will ultimately select is still a mystery.
There will be exactly 20 prospects taken before the Bengals make their selection at 21. Most of these players have a predetermined high draft grade. This means that certain players who rank very highly will not be included in this big board.
On another note, the only position that the Bengals are not looking for is a starting quarterback. They may very well select a prospect to back up Andy Dalton, but it will not happen in the early rounds of the draft. The quarterback big board will include only late-round prospects.
Let's take a look at what the Bengals 2013 NFL draft big board could look like at this moment.
Top-10 Prospects Overall
As was mentioned earlier, the Bengals have a good amount of roster holes that must be filled heading into the 2013 season. With a nice amount of early picks, they may be able to patch up some gaps via the draft.
This is a look at what the Bengals top-10 prospects could look like on their big board.
1. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The situation with Andre Smith is not going anywhere. Even though Marvin Lewis has been inclined to say that he feels a deal may get done soon, it still seems doubtful. Fluker would be a perfect fit to replace Smith at right tackle. Another Alabama product will bolster the right side of the line at a fraction of the cost of what Smith is asking.
2. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Vaccaro would be an instant upgrade to the Bengals secondary. They have been searching for a complement to free safety Reggie Nelson with little success. Four players attempted to start at the strong safety position in 2012, and all completely failed. This makes the safety position a very high priority in the 2013 NFL draft.
3. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
The Bengals recently signed James Harrison at the strongside linebacker position, but the corps is still short on talent and depth. This is where Brown could come in and make all the difference. Brown has great versatility as both an inside and outside linebacker and should be able to plug in to the defensive rotation immediately. He will give this defense a great deal of versatility that they have not had before.
4. Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Again, safety is a top priority for the Bengals in 2013. Cyprien would be a great addition if Vaccaro were already off the board. The ability to cover is huge for Marvin Lewis and Co. and Cyprien brings that ability to the safety position. He would be able to be a Day 1 starter in Cincinnati.
5. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Watson would be a great plug-and-play fit for the Bengals at right tackle. Cincinnati has made its intentions clear to take an offensive lineman early in the draft. Watson would be a great addition at 21 overall if Fluker was no longer available.
6. Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
Defensive end is another position that could come up with the Bengals first selection of the 2013 NFL draft. Even though it is not viewed as a high priority, Cincinnati will still take it under heavy consideration. Michael Johnson received the franchise tag for 2013 and Carlos Dunlap will be a free agent in 2014. This would give the Bengals options at the position if one should depart in free agency.
7. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones would be another defensive end to consider at 21 overall. He is a great pass-rusher off the edge and would give the Bengals a very solid rotation at the position. Like Carradine, the addition of Jones would give the Bengals personnel options when decisions on existing contracts would need to be made.
8. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Last year, the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round. This year, they could select another corner to team with Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall for years to come. It is so difficult to find reliable players in coverage which warrants the potential selection of a corner in the first round. An improved secondary will only further improve the stout Bengals defense.
9. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Trufant would be another excellent selection at cornerback for the Bengals and would be a great addition if Rhodes were not available. He would be able to make an immediate impact and strengthen a secondary that played very well over the last half of 2012.
10. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Jones would be a very nice addition at linebacker if Brown would happen to be unavailable at 21 overall. He would provide an instant upgrade to the linebacker corps and would be able to see immediate playing time. This would give the Bengals added versatility at the position and allow defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to get very creative with his schemes.
Offensive tackle is a position of priority for the Bengals in the 2013 NFL draft. With Smith still unsigned, they need to enter the draft as if a starting right tackle will not be on their roster in 2013.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama, Round 1
Fluker has massive size and tremendous upside at the tackle position. His stock has been on the rise, which means he may not be available at 21 overall. If he is, the Bengals could take him over any other options. With a huge frame and 36-inch arms, Fluker could quickly become an elite right tackle at the NFL level.
Menelik Watson, Florida State, Round 1
Watson is rather raw at the offensive tackle position and could be a slight gamble early in the draft. However, his upside is like no other. If Watson could have started for a longer duration while at Florida State, he could have easily been a top-10 overall selection in the draft. He has great size for a right tackle in the NFL and would be a welcome addition to the Bengals offensive line.
Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Round 2
Armstead is a great physical specimen of an offensive tackle. He is a natural left tackle, however, he has the length to move to the right side against quicker pass-rushers. Armstead has great strength and athleticism along with a perfect frame for an offensive tackle. He should be able to continue to dominate at the next level.
Brennan Williams, North Carolina, Round 2
Williams, the son of former NFL defensive end Brent Williams, has been flying up draft boards lately. He has all of the tools to become a very elite right tackle in the NFL. If he can work on some minor mechanical issues, he could become a great talent going forward.
David Quessenberry, San Jose State, Round 3
Another late riser at the position, Quessenberry has been astonishing scouts as a workout warrior. His performance at the combine turned many heads. Based on his physical gifts, it is not difficult to see how he excelled while playing at San Jose State. He will be able to come in and start instantly on an NFL team.
Guard is not a very high position of need for the Bengals. They drafted Kevin Zeitler in the first round last year and he has worked out nicely. Clint Boling holds the other spot and has room for improvement, but has been solid overall. Still, if the right situation were to arise, the Bengals could see a guard within the first four rounds of the draft.
Kyle Long, Oregon, Round 2
Long is a bit of a gamble in the early portions of the draft, however, he has not even begun to scratch the surface of his potential. Long only has four career starts at the FBS level on the offensive line. However, he has the build for the part and has been impressive in workouts. This is more than enough to warrant consideration by many NFL teams in Round 2.
Larry Warford, Kentucky, Round 2
Warford possesses a very shot frame but uses it to his advantage. He maintains great pad level and does not allow defenders to gain leverage on him. He fights so much with his hands on the line; he is known as a mauler type of interior lineman. He would be an instant starter at the guard position.
Brian Winters, Kent State, Round 3
Winters is one of the most durable players in this year's draft. He did not miss a game during his entire collegiate career. Along with his durability, he has a great frame and is well known for his strength and toughness. He does not have experience as an interior lineman, but should be able to make the transition due to his versatility.
Hugh Thornton, Illinois, Round 4
Thornton was a tackle in college, but should make the transition to guard at the next level due to his lack of length. His thicker frame will also allow him to transition to the inside of the line. A very physical and flexible player, Thornton could add some nice depth to an offensive line.
Jeff Baca, UCLA, Round 4
Mostly known for a run-blocker, Baca has a very thick, athletic frame. He also has the quickness to get up to the second level to continue blocking. He does have some limitations as a pass-blocker, but should be able to learn and become an eventual starter at the next level.
Center is not a position that has been considered a big necessity for the Bengals in 2013. However, that may not be the case. Cincinnati struggled mightily with its center play last season and could use a significant upgrade at the position. A selection of a center in either Round 2 or Round 3 may not be very far fetched.
Travis Frederick, Wisconsin, Round 2
Frederick has great technique as an interior lineman and is versatile as well. He can play both the center and guard positions with a high level of success. He has a very powerful base and will be able to anchor against some of the larger defensive tackles in the NFL. Frederick is clearly the best prospect at the center position in this year's draft.
Brian Schwenke, California, Round 3
Schwenke is a very smart interior lineman that has a great track record of being durable. He is also a very versatile player and can play both guard positions as well as center. He has great lateral quickness and can pull nicely to seal the edge for a ball-carrier.
Barrett Jones, Alabama, Round 3
Jones has very sound technique at the center position. He is a player that will consistently try hard and keep going until the whistle blows. He has a knack for latching on to a defender and moving his feet while engaged to keep his assignment completely out of the play. He also has enough speed and agility to get up to make blocks at the second level.
Khaled Holmes, USC, Round 4
Holmes has started every game of his career at the center position and has been rather successful. However, due to his lack of upper-body strength, he could be moved to guard at the NFL level. If he were to bulk up, he may be able to have a successful future as a center in the NFL.
Braxston Cave, Notre Dame, Round 5
Cave is a very durable player and comes with a great amount of experience after logging 35 starts for the Irish. He has a thick lower body and serves very well as an anchor against larger defenders. He is also known for his smarts and has the ability to recognize and call out blitzes pre-snap.
Tight end has been a position that has been mocked to the Bengals as early as Round 1 and also has been left completely out of others. This seems to be one of those positions that fans and experts just cannot seem to agree on. If the Bengals were to select a tight end, these would be their top-five choices.
Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, Round 1
At 6'6", 250 pounds, Eifert is a do-it-all tight end. He has great length to beat defensive backs on jump balls and his hands are strong enough to avoid costly drops. He doubles nicely as a blocker in the running game as well. With inconsistent play of Jermaine Gresham lately, some experts think that this may be the way for the Bengals to go early in the draft.
Zach Ertz, Stanford, Round 2
Ertz is practically the same type of player as Eifert. He only stands one inch shorter, but has all of the other tangible qualities as the top-ranked tight end. The reason the Eifert gets the nod over Ertz is simply because of Eifert's tremendous production over his collegiate years. Ertz would be a great consolation prize.
Travis Kelce, Cincinnati, Round 3
Kelce is another tight end that shares the same prototypical size as the two aforementioned prospects. However, Kelce is just a little raw after being recruited to Cincinnati as a quarterback. He has not been playing the tight end position for a long time and will need to clean up his technique at the next level.
Vance McDonald, Rice, Round 3
McDonald has great size for a tight end and is known for being a quality receiver. He also shows good, natural skills as a blocker as well. However, he does need to improve upon both of these aspects at the next level. He does not have great experience as an in-line blocker and can drop passes when trying to run before the catch.
Gavin Escobar, San Diego State, Round 3
Escobar is a different type of tight end than the aforementioned prospects. He is mainly a pass-catching tight end that would be best served stretching the seam and making catches over the middle. If he can be used out wide, it would further allow him to become a dangerous weapon as a receiver.
Running back has been a very important part of the process leading up to the draft. Everyone knows that Cincinnati is looking for a back to add to its backfield. However, there are plenty of options out there to choose from. This is a good indication of which running backs Cincinnati will be favoring during the draft.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama, Round 2
Lacy is without a doubt considered the top running back prospect in this year's draft class by most pundits. He is a physical back that has the frame and power to run between the tackles. He is also quick enough to get to the outside and break a long run. He does not have many career carries and should have a long shelf-life in the NFL.
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA, Round 2
Franklin is a great speed back that can serve as a primary ball-carrier at the NFL level. He possesses a great one-cut move that leaves defenders in his wake in the open field. He has enough speed to break big runs and has a natural pass-catching ability. He is most definitely a complete running back prospect.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina, Round 2
Bernard has very similar attributes to Franklin. He has nice speed and can break the long runs. He is a very effective pass-catcher out of the backfield and can hold his own while in pass protection. He doubles as a punt returner which would be an added bonus for the Bengals.
Andre Ellington, Clemson, Round 3
Yet another shifty, versatile back in this year's draft class, Ellington possesses the burst and speed to become a home-run threat at the NFL level. He shows great patience to allow linemen to set up blocks for him and accelerates nicely through a gap. He would serve a great purpose as a chance of pace running back.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, Round 3
Talyor is not the elite quick back that most fans would like to see the Bengals select, but he does it all. He is a very capable runner between the tackles and shows nice toughness while shedding blocker and finishing runs. He is a complete back that serves as a reliable target out of the backfield and is well versed in pass protection.
Wide receiver has been a position known to bring out constant debates among Bengals fans. Some would like an upgrade with a high pick, others see the roster perfectly fine the way it is. If the Bengals were to consider a wide receiver early, this would be the order in which they would be considered.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, Round 1
Patterson is not a prototypical Round 1 wide receiver due to some inconsistencies in his game. However, he looks to be a great second option on an offense and should provide an instant upgrade. He has the ability to stretch the field and keep defenses honest.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, Round 2
Hopkins would make a fine addition to the Bengals wide receiver corps. He would be able to start on the outside and allow for a great deal of versatility within the position. He is one of the larger receivers in the top portion of the draft and can use his frame to get between the ball and defenders for high completion percentages.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee, Round 2
At 6'4", Hunter is one of the tallest receivers in this year's draft class. He is a huge target that would be great in the NFL as a red-zone option. He has the ability to stretch the field, and even if he cannot separate from a defensive back, he can win a jump ball with his height and length.
Keenan Allen, California, Round 2
Despite Allen's recent run in with some trouble at the combine concerning his drug test, he is still a viable target within the first two rounds of the draft. Allen is not a burner and will not beat defenders deep, but he uses his body very well to protect the football from defenders and is a solid route runner. His skill set makes him a very dependable receiver when on the field.
Robert Woods, USC, Round 2
Woods does not have dynamic playmaking ability or great size for the wide receiver position. To make up for this, he is one of the best route-runners in the draft and has very sure hands. Woods may be the most reliable target at the wide receiver position and would be great for a team like the Bengals, who have struggled with drops.
As stated earlier, the Bengals are not looking for an instant starter at the quarterback position. They are very comfortable with Dalton and have no plans to replace him. Still, the Bengals may look for a long-term backup in the later rounds of the draft. Here are the top-five quarterbacks in Round 5 and beyond.
Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio), Round 5
Dysert, like all of these prospects, will be a project at the NFL level. He has a tremendously strong arm, but lacks the accuracy needed to make throws on a consistent basis. He will need to work with position coaches to improve this aspect of his game before he can become a reliable option.
Ryan Griffin, Tulane, Round 6
Griffin could be groomed into a nice dual-threat quarterback. He has a nice arm and has decent speed when asked to scramble. However, he does not excel at either of these areas. Some coaching and added consistency could make him a nice option as a backup in the future.
Sean Renfree, Duke, Round 6
Renfree possesses many of the same attributes as Dalton. He is not afraid to show off his accurate arm and throw into tight windows. He is also capable of scrambling away from pressure when needed. However, he does make some poor decisions at times which leads to high interception totals.
Jeff Tuel, Washington State, Round 7
Tuel is a nice option as a dual-threat quarterback. He possesses nice smarts at the position and progresses nicely through his reads. Sometimes, he tends to tuck the ball away and run too early during a play. He also has only average arm strength which may not be enough for a starter at the NFL level.
Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt, Round 7
Though he may be Aaron's little brother, he does not have the same game as his elite brother. He can make some nice throws on the run and showcases his ability to improvise. He also has an above-average arm and can send the ball deep downfield. He is very raw as a passer but has potential to be groomed into a solid NFL backup.
The defensive tackle position is not high up on the priority list for the Bengals after they spent a second and third-round selection on the position in 2012. However, this is a very deep class, and if the right situation arises, they could be inclined to bolster the position once again.
Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, Round 1
Williams possesses the size, power and burst to dominate in the middle of a defensive line. He seems to be able to knock back some of the larger offensive linemen with ease. He uses a great pad level and upper-body strength to push linemen back on their heels.
Jesse Williams, Alabama, Round 2
Williams may actually be a great fit for the Bengals. He is a huge force in the middle of a defensive line. Although he is not known to pressure the quarterback, he is a major disruption in the running game. This is the type of player that is very much coveted in the physical AFC North.
Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State, Round 2
Hankins is another prospect that could potentially fit the Bengals defensive scheme very well. He can dominate very nicely when he is one-on-one with an offensive lineman. However, he tends to run out of gas quickly and would best serve on a defensive line rotation.
Kawann Short, Purdue, Round 2
Short has a short, stout frame and is also very wide, which allows him to stuff the run. He also has great quickness in his feet which allows him to penetrate and disrupt plays in the backfield. He has a constant motor and can make plays away from the line of scrimmage as well.
John Jenkins, Georgia, Round 2
Jenkins is known for being a very large and very strong defensive tackle. What he is not known for is his very quick feet underneath his large body. His nimbleness allows him to be very disruptive in the backfield and will allow him to translate into a nice interior pass-rusher at the NFL level.
Defensive end is not up on the high-priority list for the Bengals, but pass-rushers should never be passed up when the circumstances are right. This logic may allow the Bengals to take one of these defensive ends earlier in the draft than most would think.
Cornellius Carradine, Florida State, Round 1
Carradine has struggled with some health concerns, but if he can get back into form after his injury, he may be the most dominant pass-rusher in this year's draft class. He has a very high motor and can get around the edge against lengthy offensive tackles. He would be nicely utilized in a rotation while he continues to recover from injury.
Datone Jones, UCLA, Round 1
Jones has a great deal of upside. He showed some great versatility while in college but lacked consistency. He may just be starting to scratch the surface of his potential, and if the Bengals take a chance on him, it could pay dividends.
Margus Hunt, Southern Methodist, Round 2
Hunt could be an early gamble in the second round of the draft, however, this could be a gamble that gives the Bengals a future standout at defensive end. The knock on Hunt is his inexperience and inconsistency. However, with the right coaching, he could be a star in the NFL.
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M, Round 2
Moore could get lots of attention from multiple teams due to his versatility. He is seen as a defensive end in a 4-3 or standing up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. He has a great initial burst and the speed to beat some of the better offensive tackles around the edge.
Alex Okafor, Texas, Round 2
Okafor is a different type of defensive end from the aforementioned prospects. He is not lightning quick off the edge and will not be a top-tier pass-rusher in the NFL. However, he can serve nicely as a left defensive end and help hold up against the run by using his strength. He could be used as a situational pass-rusher on occasion.
Linebacker is most certainly a position of need for the Bengals. Even though they signed Harrison to a two-year deal, they still lack depth and youth at the position. It can certainly be expected for the Bengals to draft a linebacker within the first couple of round in the 2013 NFL draft.
Arthur Brown, Kansas State, Round 1
Brown has been flying up draft boards since the 2012 season and can now potentially be a top-15 overall selection. If he is still there when the Bengals are on the board at 21, there will be little chance that they pass him up. He will bolster the linebacker corps for years to come with his versatility to play both the MIKE and WILL positions.
Jarvis Jones, Georgia, Round 1
Due to medical concerns, Jones' draft stock has dropped slightly over the past few weeks. That will not affect his status as potentially becoming an instant starter and possible future Pro Bowl talent in the NFL. Even though Jones is not quick off the snap, he makes up for it by shedding blocks with ease and maintaining his status as a great tackler.
Alec Ogletree, Georgia, Round 2
Ogletree would be a great addition to the tenacity and the viciousness of the Bengals defense. He plays with a mean streak and is no stranger to use his strength to bring ball-carriers down with force. He has a high motor and flies around the field. He would be a great addition and shot of youth to the Bengals linebacker corps.
Kevin Minter, LSU, Round 2
Minter has accumulated some impressive stat lines while playing for LSU. This is not because he is the largest or most explosive linebacker, but because he is the most fundamentally sound. He has great technique all the way around along with great vision to find the ball-carrier. He is the type of linebacker that will not make "wow" plays, but will always be a solid contributor.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, Round 2
Te'o was a potential high first-round selection during the early portion of the 2012 season. This was because of this great instincts and his ability to be a sure tackler and use his high motor to propel himself all over the field. However, due to an off-field incident and a poor showing in the BCS title game, his stock has lowered almost a full round.
Cornerback is not necessarily considered a high priority for the Bengals in the 2013 NFL draft. However, they could make an early surprise selection at the position if the draft falls the right way. Finding a good coverage guy is not entirely easy, and the Bengals are still searching for a long-term answer.
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, Round 1
Rhodes has decent speed, even though it is not blazing. He does make up for it with solid technique and utilizing his long, tall frame to his advantage. He is spectacular at tracking a ball while it is in the air and adjusting to it. This has allowed him to make a good deal of plays that include pass breakups and interceptions. He should be able to continue this level of play in the NFL.
Desmond Trufant, Washington, Round 1
A four-year starter, Trufant comes to the NFL with a great deal of experience. He has very fluid hips and can transition out of his backpedal nicely. He also has great instincts in space which makes him a versatile corner that can play in both man and zone coverage. He does not mind contact and will come up to the line of scrimmage to help in run support.
D.J. Hayden, Houston, Round 2
Hayden has an incredible ability to stay on the hip of wide receivers because of his speed and anticipation of routes. He has great height and top-end speed, which makes him a perfect candidate for an outside corner role in the NFL. He has a tendency to anticipate throws nicely, and that has allowed him six interceptions in only 23 college games.
Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State, Round 2
Banks has a great combination of agility, speed and length which makes him a perfect candidate for an outside corner position in the NFL. He is able to locate the ball quickly and go after it for a big play. He also uses his strength and size to bump receivers off routes in effort to interrupt the timing of a play.
Jamar Taylor, Boise State, Round 2
Taylor is known to have a very strong work ethic and strives to get better each times he hits the field. This attribute, along with his natural instincts, a great burst to close in on a receiver and great open-field tackling ability are the reasons why he is one of the top corner prospects in this draft.
Safety is obviously a glaring need for the Bengals as they head into the 2013 NFL draft. This was the largest hole on a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last season. Selecting a safety early to come in and start right away should be a very high priority for Cincinnati.
Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, Round 1
It is not very likely that Vaccaro will still be available when the Bengals pick at 21 overall. His great skill set that includes solid tackling, great coverage skills and the ability to go sideline-to-sideline using his agility and nice lateral moves are the reasons why he is considered the best safety in this draft class. If he happens to fall to the Bengals, they would not pass him over for another prospect.
John Cyprien, Florida International, Round 1
Cyprien would be a great consolation prize if Vaccaro was not available. Since the Senior Bowl, Cyprien's draft stock has been rising rapidly. There is no guarantee that he will still be on the board at 21 overall. But, if he is, the Bengals will strongly consider him due to his ability to tackle in the open field and drop into coverage.
Matt Elam, Florida, Round 2
It may come as a surprise that Elam has a second-round grade. This is because of his stiffer hips that do not allow him to excel in coverage as well as the aforementioned prospects. Elam also needs to clean up his open-field tackling to become more effective. He does, however, have a knack to make the big plays when it matters most.
Eric Reid, LSU, Round 2
Reid would be an interesting pick for the Bengals, and they may only take him if they can get tremendous value. He has very stiff hips, which does not translate well into solid deep coverage. He will get burned deep by quicker receivers in the NFL. He does have the capability to produce some huge hits which will make receivers think twice about crossing his path on the field.
Phillip Thomas, Fresno State, Round 3
Thomas would be a great value for the Bengals if he were available in the third round. He has lightning-quick closing speed which will help him against shorter and intermediate routes. He tracks the ball well and shows soft hands to come up with an interception. He does not have great top-end speed, however, which could cause him problems deep in the secondary.