- 2009: Percy Harvin - #22
- 2008: Chris Johnson - #24
- 2007: Jon Beason - #25
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.
Now here is what I think the Bengals should do with the #21 overall pick in the draft:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.