The Bengals emerged as a huge sleeper in 2011. They stumbled their way in to the playoffs with some help from other teams and a 9-7 record. They had a very young and talented offense led by rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Cedric Benson showed he had some fuel left in the tank, rushing for 1,067 yards and six scores. Their defense, even though they lost all pro corner Jonathon Joseph to free agency, was still ranked number seven overall in the NFL. On top of all that, the Bengals have nine picks in the 2012 NFL draft. Cincinnati is not only a team to watch out for in 2012, they are “the” team.
With all that being said what do the Bengals need the most? They probably shouldn’t waste any high money on big name free agents with all the talent at their disposal in the draft. They have their quarterback/receiver combination of the future. Their offensive line allowed 25 sacks, tied for fourth best in the NFL, all last season. Alabama running back Trent Richardson should be taken by the time the Bengals pick at number 17, they could trade up with their draft picks, but running back talent seems to extend late in the draft, and the NFL has transformed in to a passing league.
If Richardson is there, don’t get me wrong, Cincinnati owner Mike Brown will be happy to take him. David Wilson out of Virginia Tech is the second best running back in the draft, but the Bengals also have the 24th
pick in the first round and he will be there then. Current strong safety Chris Crocker is in his tenth year, and could be replaceable. Taylor Mays, his supposed heir apparent has not shown strong qualities to be given the starting nod. The safety position has been a question as of late, so Alabama strong safety Mark Barron is a great fit. Barron is 6’1’’ 223 lbs, and if the Jets don’t take him with the pick prior, and Richardson isn’t on the board, you can bet the Bengals won’t pass.
Barron recorded 61 total tackles for the Crimson Tide in 2011 and two picks. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as the number one weak side linebacker by scouts.com, having played that and running back. His physicality he could bring to an already stellar defense is unquestioned. He is rated as the second best safety in this year’s draft pool. Many have the Bengals taking North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins, who is a great talent, but prior problems make him questionable for Mike Brown to gamble on, especially when he has had recent success with college players with out a record. Now, Barron was cited for second-degree hindering prostitution in 2011, but that doesn’t equate to Jenkins being dismissed from the University of Florida stemming from a resisting arrest and marijuana charges. Barron should be a strong fit to an already great secondary, which Cincinnati will probably improve on more through this year’s NFL Draft.