Tuesday, March 16, 2010

With the 21st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft

The Cincinnati Bengals select:

Everson Griffen, DE, Southern Cal
6'4 273 lbs.
Forty time: 4.66
225 lbs press: 32 times

First let me say that if Earl Thomas, Brandon Graham or Dez Bryant somehow magically fall to us, one of them should be the pick.

Assuming they don't, let's look at all the players that might be available when we pick at #21 that the Bengals might actually select:

Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Ga. Tech
Golden Tate, WR, ND
Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Taylor Mays, S, USC
Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Jared Oldrick, DT, Penn State
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Sergio Kindle, OLB/DE, Texas
Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU
Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida

I would eliminate all the CB's and DT's from the list initially.  This draft is very deep at CB so we don't need to take one at #21, plus we still have Hall and JJoe.  DT was a position I thought we should look at because Oldrick and Price are very talented, but since we re-signed Tank Johnson we have a good 3 man rotation with Peko, Tank and Sims.  Plus we like to move our DE's (Odom, Fanene, Johnson, Rucker) inside to DT on obvious passing downs, so DT should not be a priority in this years draft.

Of the remaining, let's compare the players of similar positions. 

Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey are the two best interior linemen in the draft, and we do need to get better at pass protecting in the middle.  I would actually take Pouncey over Iupati for the Bengals.  The problem for the middle of the O-Line wasn't run blocking but pass blocking.  Iupati while a dominant run blocker still has a long way to go in pass protection, where he would actually be a downgrade over Nate Livings or Evan Mathis.  So I would cross out Iupati from the list.

At LB, Daryl Washington and Brandon Spikes are two players that the Bengals are rumored to have interest in.  Washington is a really intriguing prospect and would be great at WLB.  The only problem is we already have Keith Rivers at WLB.  It would be great to lineup Maualuga next to Spikes, but a trio of Rivers, Rey and Spikes would probably be the most physically gifted and dumbest trio of LB's in the NFL.  Anyone that reads River's tweets knows what I'm talking about.  In Zimmer's scheme you need intelligent LB's which is why Dhani Jones has been flourishing.  I like having one veteran LB in the group, who I wouldn't want to replace with Spikes or Washington immediately, but after a season or two in the system I would.  But at #21 if we selected a LB they would need to start from week 1.  So while both would be good additions, I would cross both of the list at #21 (Would love to have either in the 2nd round though).

At WR, Golden Tate and Demaryius Thomas would have been at the top of my draft list before Antonio Bryant signed.  Tate I would eliminate because he like Coles is short.  Carson doesn't feel comfortable throwing to 5'11 guys so why keep trying to force it?  Thomas I really like and wouldn't be upset at all if we drafted at #21.  But he does have a broken foot and we all saw how that limited Coffman his rookie season, so there is some hesitation there on immediate return.

At DE/OLB, you have Kindle, Dunlap, Hughes and Griffen.  Off the bat I would eliminate Dunlap, because he looks like another Florida DE bust (Jarvis Moss, Derek Harvey, etc...).  He was supposed to light up the combine but was out-shined easily by Everson Griffen another physically gifted athlete.  Kindle and Hughes would provide that hybrid pass rushing LB/DE that Marvin Lewis tried out in Cincy with David Pollack.  If we ran the 3-4, I would support taking a player in that mold, but I always thought Pollack was out of place here in Cincy and would have been much better with a true 3-4 team, like Ahmad Brooks, who is starting to flourish in the 49ers defense.  So out of this group, I think Griffen would be the best fit.

So after eliminating some prospects, the list is dwindled down to the following:

Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
Taylor Mays, S, USC
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Ga. Tech

Let me start off by saying I would be happy with any of those 5 players at #21.  Now lets go through each player.

Gresham would provide a great red zone threat but he is coming off major surgery and under Brat we don't utilize the TE much.  So we might find better value in the 2nd or 3rd round.  TE's like Gronkowski, McCoy or Dickerson can be had in the 2nd or 3rd rounds and their production would probably be similar to Greshams with the way we use TE's in the offense.

Mays would be a great project for Coyle and Zimmer who are phenomenal with defensive backs.  But in the 2nd round you can probably get a good safety like Nate Allen, Rashed Jones or Morgan Burnett.  Even after the 2nd round you still have really good safety prospects like the under-rated Terrell Skinner and the hard hitting Major Wright.

Maurkice Pouncey could probably start at LG immediately for us, but Livings and Mathis did well for us last season.  They need to improve on their pass blocking but another year in the system and some continuity for the O-Line should do wonders for them.  Plus #21 overall is pretty high to take a guard in the draft, so unless we trade down, I'd rather wait to take a guard.

Demaryius Thomas, I'm having a tough time making a case against.  I love his potential but after signing Antonio Bryant, I think the bigger need becomes our pass rushing issues.

Finally there is Everson Griffen.  The highly talented DE out of USC.  Coming out of high school, he was a top recruit but he never really lived up to his expectations at USC.  He was benched his sophomore year for Clay Mathews, but seeing the production Mathews has delivered for Green Bay, I wouldn't say that is too much of an insult.  He improved his Junior year but didn't have ground breaking numbers.  Physically he is up there with Jason Pierre-Paul.  While JPP has a quicker first step, Griffen is stronger and is more stout against the run.  Watching several USC games this season, you can see how unstoppable Griffen looked at times.  He commanded double teams and utilized his strength well to break though them.  The Bengals defense needs to get more pressure from just their 4 down linemen.  Having Odom back will help but he hasn't played a full 16 games yet for us.  After Odom went down the Bengals got some good production from Fanene but he wore down as the season went on which showed his best value is as a rotational player.  Michael Johnson has a lot of potential but like Fanene he's more of a rotational player.  Robert Geathers has struggled to get pressure and is often stopped by just a TE.  Replacing Geathers as the starting DE with Griffen could take this defense to the next level.  Which it will need to do with the offenses this team has on the schedule in 2010.

Also when you look at the DE prospects that will be available for us after the first round: Corey Wootton, Jermaine Cunningham, Lindsey Witten, Brandon Lang, etc...  There is a noticeable drop off from Griffen.  Any DE we take after the 1st will probably end up 5th or 6th on the depth chart and competing just for a spot on the roster with Rucker instead of competing for a starting role like Griffen would be.

So for me, I think the pick comes down to Everson Griffen or Demaryius Thomas, with the slight edge going to Griffen...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bengals 1st Round Pick - 2010 NFL Draft

With the #21 pick in the draft the Bengals are in a good spot.  Some of the biggest impact rookies have been selected around that selection in recent years:
  • 2009: Percy Harvin - #22
  • 2008: Chris Johnson - #24
  • 2007: Jon Beason - #25
Also it is a great pick in terms of trade value. In the 2005 NFL draft Aaron Rodgers fell to the #24 pick and in the 2007 Draft Brady Quinn fell to the #22 pick.  If Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen or C.J. Spiller fall to #21, the Bengals will be in a good position to trade their pick.

Before I give my analysis on what I think the Bengals should do with the #21 pick, here are some "rumors" that I've been hearing:
  • The Bengals don't think Jermaine Gresham "fits" their system.  A lot of mock drafts have us selecting Gresham but he is not an elite blocking TE and the Bengals offense under Bob "Teflon" Bratkowski requires it's TE to block heavily.
  • The Bengals are looking for taller receivers in this years draft.  With the losses of Chris Henry (6'4) and TJ Houshmandzadeh (6'2) the Bengals have lost two of their taller receivers.   Laveranues Coles (5'11) and Andre Caldwell (6'0) while faster are not able to go up and get the football as much as Carson would like.
  • The Bengals are thinking about drafting two WR's in this draft.
  • And the juiciest rumor of all: Mike Brown has hinted that outside of a certain WR (Possibly Dez Bryant), the Bengals will draft a defensive player with their 1st pick.
I don't necessarily agree with all the rumors, but they are out there.

Now here is what I think the Bengals should do with the #21 overall pick in the draft:
  1. Trade the Pick - Our biggest issue is the passing game and I don't see any positions that can use new starters on the offensive side of the ball besides WR and TE.  If the Bengals really do believe that Jermaine Gresham doesn't fit our offense, I think the best option for us is to trade our pick for a 2011 1st round draft pick.  At WR, Dez Bryant will be long gone by the time we pick.  I can't remember the last time the Bengals traded up in the 1st round, so the chances of us landing Bryant are slim to none. After Bryant the top WR's in this years class are: Golden Tate (ND), Arrelious "Rejus" Benn (Illinois), Damian Williams (USC), Demaryius Thomas (Ga Tech), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati) and Brandon LaFell (LSU).  Golden Tate while a favorite among Bengal mock drafters is about the same size as Coles. Not the big receiver or vertical threat the Bengals are looking for.  The other receivers while all could help our team are no where near as talented as next years WR class.  Next years class includes: A.J. Green (Georgia), Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Julio Jones (Alabama) and Michael Floyd (ND). All four of those receivers are better than any receiver in this years class except for Dez Bryant.  Also with a new CBA in place (Hopefully) for next year that will limit the skyrocketing rookie salaries in the 1st round (Hopefully), it makes sense to trade away this years pick for a 2011 1st round pick.  While it will be a hard sell to the fans to be patient, I think it's the smart thing to do.  Of course trading out of the 1st round to get additional picks in next years draft is always easier said than done.
  2. Draft Defense - This idea won't be popular with the majority of the fan base either, but let me explain. Looking at the players that will "probably" be available when we select at #21 it seems to favor the defense (talent wise).   I listed the WR's that will most likely be on the board when we select, now here are some of the defensive players that might be available: Brian Price (DT, UCLA), Jared Odrick (DT, Penn State), Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan), Earl Thomas (S, Texas) and Taylor Mays (S, USC).   Brian Price in last years draft would have been a top 1o pick but because this years class is absolutely loaded at the DT position (Suh, McCoy, D. Williams, Oldrick, etc...), he might be around when we select at #21.  He was the Pack 10 defensive player of the year and would form a very formidable duo with Domata Peko.  Jared Odrick was the Big Ten defensive player of the year. A tall DT who can not only rush the passer but get his hands up to knock down some balls.   Brandon Graham lead the nation in tackles for loss and is great in run support as well as rushing the passer. Some are saying he's a better talent coming out of college than fellow Michigan defender LaMarr Woodley.  Earl Thomas and Taylor Mays would help out a secondary that struggled down the stretch after injuries.  Also Mike Zimmer was a DB coach for several years before becoming a defensive coordinator.  You give him players with the talents of an Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays and he could turn them into All Pro type players.   So while WR and TE are higher on the priority list for the Bengals, the talent on the defensive side that might be available when we pick would be too good to pass up.
  3. Draft a WR - Although I would rather trade the pick or take a top tier defensive player, I'm not opposed to taking a WR as well. Assuming Dez Bryant is off the boards we would be left choosing between: Golden Tate (ND), Arrelious "Rejus" Benn (Illinois), Damian Williams (USC), Demaryius Thomas (Ga Tech), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati) and Brandon LaFell (LSU).  Personally I would be fine with us selecting Golden Tate, Rejus Benn, Damian Williams or Demaryius Thomas.  Demaryius Thomas has the most upside, Damian Williams is the most polished, Golden Tate is the most explosive and Rejus Benn is the most physical.  The other WR's (Gilyard and LaFell) I think we would be reaching for with the #21 pick and at least one of them will probably be available when we pick again in the 2nd round.
  4. Draft Jermaine Gresham - This is the last option that I would be OK with for the Bengals to do with the #21 pick (Granted he passes a physical).  Gresham is a dynamic TE who if wasn't injured would have been a top 15 pick easily.  While the Bengals might not think he "fits" the system, it might force the Bengals F.O. to look at other offensive coordinators who can better utilize TE's.  Which I'm sure a lot of my fellow Bengal fans would not be too upset about. Still it's early in the process and Gresham will need to show he is physically back 100% before we take him at #21.