The Cincinnati Bengals approach the 2013 NFL Draft with a few holes to fill, but can use this year to really upgrade their talent level. The biggest hole on the offense is the lack of a dynamic running back.
While BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a decent starter as a guy who can chew up some yardage, he is not someone opposing teams fear. They also need a more stable situation at center as they had to bring in Jeff Faine for a stretch off the street. On defense, there are some lingering questions around the linebacker position, but the Bengals have a ton of flexibility with how they want to address that area.
The biggest hole is at free safety where they have plugged in some middle of the road players who were serviceable but have not had a real answer to the position to protect the back end of the defense.
This draft provides a huge opportunity as the Bengals could be in prime position to take advantage of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens faltering slightly to regroup and take over control of the AFC North Division.
21. Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
The Bengals have an interesting situation at linebacker. They brought back Rey Maualuga who could contribute as a run stopping middle linebacker or slide over to the strong side or be a valuable backup. They have Vontaze Burfict coming off of an impressive rookie year who played on the weak side but could play any of the three spots and might be best suited to play in the middle. Pending the medical, Jones would give them a tremendous upgrade on the strong side as a run defender who also gives them another talented pass rusher to add to what is already an impressive group. Not only that, but the Jones fits the profile of player that the Bengals love. Jones was tremendously productive but has a chip growing on his shoulder as the number of doubters add up and head coachMarvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer have had a tremendous amount of success finding guys with something to prove and being able to get every bit of talent out of them. The Bengals have also had an interesting connection to Georgia and have picked a number of Bulldogs over the past several years including David Pollack, Odell Thurman,Geno Atkins, Clint Boling, and Orson Charles.
37. Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
There are probably some people screaming this should be Eddie Lacy and the Bengals could do that route, but then they would have two big backs who are borderline useless as receivers out of the backfield. Bernard would give them a good fit for the west coast offense that could be an asset as a receiver in addition to a different style of runner to complement Green-Ellis. His combination of elite vision and balance in addition to the other attributes he brings to the table could make the Bengals the more potent rushing threat the team desperately wants.
53. Bacarri Rambo, FS Georgia
The Bengals need a free safety, but they also need someone who can cause turnovers for them. Rambo can give them both. He is always around the football and tracks the ball as well as anyone in addition to having some of the best ball skills of any defender in this draft. Zimmer feeds off of that and will put him in positions to make plays that could get him plays just like he did at Georgia and in addition to having the Bengals as a strong defensive unit, they could also be a bigger threat to cause turnovers.
84. Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
This center class is not outstanding by any stretch, but there is value to be had and Frederick is a great fit for the Bengals offensive line. They have an offensive line made up of big earth movers including Frederick’s former Badger teammate in Kevin Zeitler. Frederick would give them stable player at the pivot spot and stabilize the offensive line as a whole.
118. Zac Dysert, QB Miami
Andy Dalton is the starting quarterback for the Bengals, but there is certainly a question as to whether or not he has the capability to take them all the way. The Bengals opt to bring in the tough, gritty Dysert to develop behind Dalton while giving Dalton a subtle reminder to keep working and competing. There might not have been a tougher quarterback in all of college football than Dysert this past year as he took a lot of punishment, kept getting up, competing and taking more. He has some good physical tools to develop and while he has some issues to improve upon, especially consistency, he has the potential to develop into a starter whether for the Bengals or another team in the future.
156. Zach Sudfeld, TE Nevada
If the Bengals want to add an aggressive blocking style tight end to pair with Gresham to impose their will in the running game who has the potential to develop as a receiver, Sudfeld could be a great option with a ton of size that fits with their offensive line. The Bengals have what they hope is an effective 1-2 punch with Gresham and Charles, but they could use a player like Kasa if they want to go full on power and tell defenses to try and stop them, which could open up their play action passing.
190. Knile Davis, RB Arkansas
It would not be a shock to see the Bengals add a second running back and try to gamble on big time talent. Knile Davis was considered a first round prospect but a combination of injuries and issues with fumbling have hurt his stock. Still, he is a freakish athlete and has the ability to be a home run hitter for a team as a runner or a receiver out of the backfield. With limited snaps and focusing on holding onto the ball, the Bengals could hit it big with Davis, but if he gets hurt, they are not giving up much.
197. Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State
With the mess that ended his college career, it is easy to forget how talented Wilson is on the football field. If he falls to this point in the draft, there is potential for a steal here and that is the type of receiver the Bengals would need to make their roster. Wilson would give them the potential for a receiver to play opposite Green.
240. Luke Marquardt, OT Azusa Pacific
Here, the Bengals are basically beating teams to the punch by taking a guy that many might be hoping they could get as an undrafted free agent. Marquardt is raw and dealt with injuries, but he has incredible size and strength along with good feet and a nasty demeanor in the running game. Maraquardt fits the profile of linemen the Bengals have found themselves gravitating towards and is a long term project as well as depth as a swing tackle.
251. Mike Catapano, DE Princeton
The Bengals love to keep compiling talent along the defensive line to keep their guys fresh and never be in trouble when they lose one and Catapano is a high motor, blue collar guy that could compete for a spot in the rotation and fits the size the Bengals like. If he can improve his leverage consistently, he could be a nice player for the team that takes him as a pass rusher and run defender.