Cincinnati Bengals: Predicting Round 2 Selections
With the first round of the NFL Draft finished, experts and fans alike were stunned to see the Cincinnati Bengals draft TE Tyler Eifert out of Notre Dame. Despite his tremendous skill set, many are questioning the pick given the team's obvious needs.
Eifert was the right pick, but that's a different issue. The first round is done, and now it's time to look towards round two, where the Bengals will undoubtedly begin to address their needs. With two picks in the second round, what needs will Cincinnati look to address, and who will they call upon to address said needs?
Assessing Biggest Needs
Going into the second round, Cincinnati's biggest needs are at safety, running back, linebacker, wide receiver and possibly offensive tackle.
The Bengals were one of the best defenses in the league, but safety has been a concern that peaked in 2012 when the team was forced to bring back veteran Chris Crocker. The highly athletic Taylor Mays was unable to secure the starting role for himself and soon saw his reckless play lead to his removal as a starter.
The running game in Cincinnati was decidedly one-dimensional. Free-agent BenJarvus Green-Ellis saw almost 250 more carries than the next-closest running back. That's a major problem, as BJGE isn't dynamic enough to be the team's only back. A strict north-to-south power back, BJGE needs a pacy compliment to help improve the team's run game.
Cincinnati's linebacking corps was absolutely exposed in the AFC Wild Card Game against the Houston Texans. Rey Maualuga in particular has drawn the ire of fans for his sloppy play. Undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict actually ended up leading the team in tackles despite starting fewer games than the former Trojan.
The Bengals already have lots of young talent that they like (Emmanuel Lamur, Vincent Rey, Brandon Joiner) but none of those players are proven. A strong linebacker could help this defense become absolutely elite.
Wide receiver is still a need for Cincinnati despite its attempts to address it in drafting Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Neither shined early in the season, but Sanu seemed to show glimpses of brilliance before suffering a season-ending injury.
Neither player caught more than five passes in a game, and neither eclipsed 70 yards in a game. There are holes in both wideouts' games (Sanu,speed; Jones,production), and for a team that has tasted the playoffs twice in two seasons, the coaching staff might not be patient to see how they develop.
The final biggest need is a big maybe. Right tackle Andre Smith has yet to re-sign with Cincinnati after hitting the market at the end of the season. Cincinnati has been willing to let Smith test the market, and while there has been no interest from other teams it appears that the Bengals and Smith are still unable to reach a deal. If Cincinnati isn't confident that they can re-sign Smith, they will have to be thinking offensive tackle in the second round.
Pick 37: Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
With Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid both off the board by the 21st pick, Cincinnati went for the best player available in Tyler Eifert. Eifert will surely be a boost to the offense, but the Bengals still failed to address the biggest need: safety.
Cyprien is not the best safety coming out of the draft, although many scouts were very high on him. What the safety does have is incredible upside, upside that might see him in the Pro Bowl in the future. Cyprien has prototypical size and is likely the hardest hitter in the entire draft. He plays with a lot of heart and has plenty of experience.
In drafting Cyprien, Cincinnati will have an impact safety who will undoubtedly be a week-one starter.
Pick 53: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Linebacker is likely a bigger need for Cincinnati, but they will draft a running back with pick 53 and put faith in their young core, Rey Maualuga, and free agent James Harrison. Running back is clearly the next biggest need, so for them to look anywhere else would be foolish.
Bernard is not the best running back in the class. Most big boards have him in the top five, usually around number three or four. Alabama's Eddie Lacy is probably a better back and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin looks to have a higher ceiling. Many experts are high on Wisconsin's Montee Ball, as well.
None of that matters, though. Lacy will likely be gone by the time this pick comes around, so drafting him is an impossibility. Ball is too slow, and Franklin is too much of a project. Bernard has the ability to make an impact not just in the running game, but also in the return game where Brandon Tate has failed to shine.
The UNC standout has unbelievable quickness. He's also an incredible receiver. Bernard is dynamic and, while he'll never be good enough to be the team's only back, will be a perfect compliment to Green-Ellis.
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