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...

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