The Bengals, Finally Hope In Cincinnati?

Will HowardCorrespondent IMay 7, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1:  Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Ray Maualuga #58 runs a drill during rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 1, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

News circulating around the NFL is that the Cincinnati Bengals have sign former Cowboys safety Roy Williams.

He will be reunited with Mike Zimmer, the former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator., a guy who took the Bengals defense from 27th to 12th in just his first season on the job.

He gets added to a revamped defense that cut Mike Doss, signed Darryl Blackstock and former Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, and picked up highly coveted rookie Ray Maualuga when he slipped to pick No. 38 in the second round.

Michael Johnson, a bruising defensive end from Georgia Tech, was grabbed in the third round with pick No. 70. Johnson fell amidst concerns that he isn't fond of playing the run, but the opportunity for a team to take a physically gifted player such as Johnson proved too tempting for the Bengals.

Morgan Trent, a speedy cornerback from Michigan, and Clinton McDonald, a potential steal at defensive lineman from Memphis rounded out the great defensive draft by the Bengals, and put Mike Zimmer in a very solid position as the Bengals look to rebound from a 4-11-1 season.

Maualuga could supplant the Bengals 2008 first round choice Keith Rivers (who in my opinion would be a great back up option at middle linebacker) and join Dhani Jones, who threw out a monster 116-tackle year in 2008.

Throw in Johnathan Joseph and 2007 first-rounder Leon Hall, who tabbed 75 tackles last season, and the rookies and free agents could turn this defense from 12th overall to one of the top five or 6 this season, meanwhile taking some major pressure off of an offense that will take all the help it can get.

The offense lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency, but the bigger issue is the fact that all of last season they lost Chad "Ocho-Cinco" Johnson due to his spending too much time in his own world rather than on the field at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals acquired Laveranues Coles via free agency from the Jets in the off-season. Coles is a consummate professional and leader on the field, and he could be what helps put Johnson's head on straight.

Cedric Benson, the former Bears first-round bust, is back and looks to improve on the 747 yards and two scores he racked up last year.

The O-Line received a massive makeover after the Bengals drafted character concern Andre Smith with the 6th pick and released 2002 10th overall pick Levi Jones, leaving Andrew Whitworth as the lead left guard.

Potential starters Johnathan Luigs at center and Chase Coffman, a potential stud tight end, were also taken for the offense, as well as backs Bernard Scott, Fui Vakapuna, and Freddie Brown, a wideout from Utah

If Carson Palmer can play an entire season, and the offensive plays with some sort of consistency, look for this team to win nine, maybe ten games and contend for a playoff berth.

If not look for a 3-13 or 4-12 season, and the hope of drafting Colt McCoy from Texas to relieve Palmer of his duties.