The Cincinnati Bengals head into the 2013 NFL Draft in a better position than in year's past. After a few consecutive successful drafts, and some players who have developed very well, the Bengals are a team on the rise with no glaring weaknesses.
Cincinnati is young, talented, and deep. When a club enters the Draft in this condition, they can actually approach the Draft as all teams say they do, and pick the best available player with each pick.
The player can, then, challenge for playing time or develop behind a starter already in place.
After two compensatory picks in the seventh round and a leftover second round pick from the Carson Palmer trade with Oakland, the Bengals have a total of ten picks in the 2013 Draft.
The Bengals' first selection comes at No. 21. It will take a quality rookie to unseat about any starter, but starting caliber players are what a team must find in the first round.
1st round, (No. 21): Barkevious Mingo, linebacker, LSU
Mingo has the athleticism to really make his mark on the NFL. That being said, he will need some time to grow. Cincinnati offers him the perfect place to learn, without having to perform right now, while still giving him a shot at playing time or even a starting job.
This pick assumes Andre Smith will be back at offensive tackle. If not a replacement will be taken here. Probably D.J. Fluker out of Alabama. There are at least four starting caliber tackles in this Draft and the other three will likely be gone before Cincinnati picks.
2nd round, (No. 37): Matt Elam, safety, Florida
This is probably the best position for a rookie to earn a starting job, along side Reggie Nelson. Safety might be a stretch with the first pick, but in the second round the Bengals will pull the trigger. Elam is small but plays in the same physical style of great AFC North safeties before him.
2nd round, (No. 53): Andre Ellington, running back, Clemson
Cincinnati probably won't take a running back earlier than this pick. Ellington can complement Green-Ellis better than any backs that will remain late in the second round. He is a home run threat with breakaway speed and hasn't had the ball security problems of other speed backs in this draft class.
3rd round, (No. 84): Aaron Dobson, wide receiver, Marshall
Much like Mohamed Sanu last year, Dobson is underrated and will probably be available with this pick. If so, with his size,(6'3", 203 pounds) and route-running savvy, he will be a steal.
4th round, (No. 118): Landry Jones, quarterback, Oklahoma
Cincinnati let backup quarterback Gradkowski go to rival Pittsburgh. They have already made it clear they intend to find a younger backup for Andy Dalton. A draft pick will be taken to compete with free agent signee Josh Johnson. Landry seems to have the Bengals' attention and if he's still on the board at 118, they'll grab him up.
5th round, (No. 156): Kwame Geathers, defensive tackle, Georgia
At this point, teams are looking for players they think can stick on a roster. Geathers is the brother of Bengals' defensive end Robert Geathers.
In fact, it seems nearly everyone in their family has played in the NFL at some time.
On his own merit, though, Geathers has the neccessary tools to grow into a productive player at the next level.
6th round, (No. 190): Garret Gilkey, offensive lineman, Chadron State
Gilkey, a tackle in college, had a good showing at the Senior Bowl as a guard.
He could add depth to the Bengals' line in the future.
6th round, (No. 197): Stansly Maponga, defensive end, TCU
The Bengals aren't hurting for depth on their defensive line, but Maponga could be the best player left at this point in the Draft. With a little coaching, he could surprise at the next level.
7th round, (No. 240): Duke Williams, safety, Nevada
Another small safety, Williams may struggle to get drafted. He could, however, pay off for a team willing to take a chance on him. Cincinnati would do well to have him in the mix during the pre-season and see what happens.
7th round, (No. 251): Nathan Williams, linebacker, Ohio State
Williams is another player that could slip by without being drafted. He is underrated. It would be interesting to see what he could do after a little time with the coaches who worked with Vontaze Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur last year.
If the past few years are any indication, Cincinnati Bengals fans should expect another solid draft.