Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Cincinnati Bengals' Top 3 Picks

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Cincinnati Bengals' Top 3 Picks

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    Michael Conroy

    The NFL draft is a game of scenarios. For a team with as much talent as the Cincinnati Bengals, an eye on the long-term prize is a must regardless of how each round in the 2014 draft shapes up.

    Best-case scenarios for the Bengals this year will both fill a need and represent great value on the board. It's harder to nail down scenarios on the other end of the spectrum thanks to both the overall depth of the roster and the stunning depth of the rookie class itself.

    Regardless, fans better believe the front office in the Queen City is hard at work running through potential draft-day scenarios.

    Let's do that ourselves. Based on need and a projected draft board, here's a look at scenarios for each of the first three rounds.

Round 1 Best-Case Scenario

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    Michael Conroy

    Scenario: Top corner tumbles 

    The definition of "top corner" will vary for most, but for our purposes the top corners are Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller and Jason Verrett.

    There's an obvious need in Cincinnati with the trio of Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Adam Jones by no means a surefire thing. The same applies to third-year corner Dre Kirkpatrick, so the Bengals enter the first likely on the hunt for a corner first and foremost.

    The good news is simple—a minimum of four names are a great value when Cincinnati walks to the podium. Odds are one falls down the board, gets selected by the Bengals and has a chance to learn from an outstanding veteran cast.

     

    Alternative Scenario: Teddy Bridgewater falls

    There won't be another alternative scenario the rest of the way, but this one simply has to be said—if Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater takes a tumble, the Bengals have to be there to scoop him up.

    Bridgewater has gone from a can't-miss prospect to a potential second-round pick in seemingly a matter of days. He's a potential franchise quarterback who can sit behind Andy Dalton and learn, or even push for the starting gig as a rookie.

Round 1 Worst-Case Scenario

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    Michael Conroy

    Scenario: Top three offensive tackles and corners off the board

    Things get tricky if all of the aforementioned corners and offensive tackles like Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin are off the board by the time the Cincinnati Bengals make their pick.

    Ideally, the Bengals will get someone in the first round who can play and make an impact right away. A corner would still see time on special teams and a tackle would have a strong chance of stealing the job at left guard or perhaps even center.

    If there is no good value at either spot, instant impact gets a bit tricky. The team could grab a top safety like Calvin Pryor, but it's hard to know if he would crack the starting lineup. The same goes for a defensive lineman.

    Cincinnati becomes one of the most difficult teams to project in this scenario. Maybe they grab a tackle like Louis Nix. Maybe they get an instant starter at left guard with Xavier Su'a-Filo or David Yankey. Maybe the team gets another wideout.

    It's truly a toss-up. To make things more straightforward, let's hope a top target at corner or tackle falls.

Round 2 Best-Case Scenario

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Scenario: Top defensive backs bleed into second round

    Say the Cincinnati Bengals forgo the corner spot in the first round in favor of an offensive tackle or some other surprise.

    This opens the door for the team to potentially still get a great value in the second round. Jason Verrett could fall due to size concerns. Names like Bradley Roby, Lamarcus Joyner, E.J. Gaines and Pierre Desir are suddenly great values. 

    It's certainly a realistic strategy for the team. There are numerous quality corners in the class, especially in the eyes of the Cincinnati front office, which views even a project player like Desir as a great investment in the second round, as he won't simply be thrown to the wolves.

    Regardless, a corner who can be groomed by the veteran talent already on the roster and take over as a starter in a few years is a great scenario.

Round 2 Worst-Case Scenario

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    Michael Conroy

    Scenario: Staff has to think outside the box and not address a need thanks to poor value

    The importance of the second round in recent years for the Cincinnati Bengals can't be overstated. Names like Rey Maualuga, Andy Dalton, Carlos Dunlap and more have been added, and there is an obvious trend there—those were all scenarios in which desirable players at good value fell down the board.

    But what if it doesn't happen?

    Would Cincinnati grab a wideout like Jordan Matthews? What about a running back like Carlos Hyde?

    If Cincinnati wants to get out of its comfort zone because the board has dictated no need can be addressed in the second, it could lead to some interesting results.

    This isn't entirely a bad thing, but second-round picks in recent years have had a distinctive fit in Cincinnati. If need isn't there, will Cincinnati sacrifice value, hit an unnecessary position or attempt to trade down?

Round 3 Best-Case Scenario

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    Michael Conroy

    Scenario: Great talent on defensive line is available

    At some point in the 2014 draft the Cincinnati Bengals are going to grab another defensive lineman. Whether it's a player on the outside to pair with the likes of Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry, or a tackle to add depth behind Domata Peko and Geno Atkins, at least one talent will be added to the group.

    The third round is the sweet spot.

    If Cincinnati can steal a guy like Will Sutton on the interior or Jackson Jeffcoat on the outside, the line will be great next year once again despite the departure of a name like Michael Johnson.

    Even better, a guy like Sutton provides insurance if Atkins isn't his usual self post-injury. A talent like Jeffcoat insulates the team from something like Hunt turning out to be a bust.

    But address the spots any higher in the draft and future finances come into play in a big way. As fans have already seen, the Bengals can only afford so many great defensive linemen.

Round 3 Worst-Case Scenario

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    Jonathan Bachman

    Scenario: No viable quarterbacks available

    Say the Cincinnati Bengals have a draft that dictates a signal-caller as a necessity in the third. They've hit needs at other spots, but want to finally grab the guy who pushes Andy Dalton and can potentially take over if they don't agree to a deal before his contract expires.

    But it's too late.

    Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, David Fales and even Brett Smith are off the board.

    It's too little, too late in this scenario. Quarterbacks are the league's hottest commodity, and if the Bengals are serious about adding viable competition or an eventual insurance replacement, the third round may be too late.

     

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