Bengals reload

The Bengals have had two encouraging seasons that have ended with playoff berths, but a birth is all it was. They have a young, solid core group of guys that just need a few more pieces to the puzzle to push past the wildcard round. Last year, outside of AJ Green, the offense was basically nonexistent. The defense was the bright spot of the team but still has some weakness that have to be addressed. Back in 2010, the Bengals used their first round draft pick on tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham was highly praised coming out of Oklahoma, he is a multi-talented tight end who could catch and block. Quickly the Bengals realized that he isn’t as sure handed as he was cracked up to be, so this year they used there first round pick on another tight end. This year it was Tyler Eifert out of Notre Dame. Eifert is more of a receiving tight end than a blocking tight end; this is going give Dalton another option other than Green so they can spread the field out. In the second round the Bengals had two picks (one from the Raiders for Carson Palmer) and they picked up running back Giovani Bernard, out of North Carolina and Margus Hunt of SMU. It would appear with the drafting of multiple running backs and signing undrafted free agent Ontario McCalebb, that Bernard Scott’s days here are numbered. Scott had shown many years of promise since he was drafted back in 2009, but hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to make an impact. Giovani Bernard ran a 4.53 which was good enough for top ten among running backs at this year’s combine. Margus Hunt is a defensive lineman out of SMU. He is just another weapon the Bengals have added to that already daunting defensive front. Margus might find himself having to learn to play standing up, since the Bengals will be converting to a base 3-4 defense. At first he will most likely come in only for pass rushing situations and gradually work his way in the rotation with experience. He is just the tenacious type worker with somewhat of a mean streak that the defense has been missing. The Bengals did pass on one of the top safeties in the draft (Matt Elam) and arguably the best linebacker in the draft (Alec Ogletree) when they took Eifert in the first round. These two positions seemed to be more of an urgent need at the time but they did address those positions later in the draft. Safety Shawn Williams (Georgia) was one of the better players on that impressive Georgia defense from last year. Seven of the eleven starters from that defense last year were taken in this year’s draft. Shawn seemed to fall under the radar this year with top safties Elam, Vaccaro, and Reid. So Williams fell right into the Bengals lap and could endup being a steal. Another under the radar pick was the linebacker out of Texas A&M, Sean Porter. He has played games at strong side and weak side linebacker at A&M so versatility isn’t a problem for him. He was top five in tackles, had fumble recoveries, interceptions, quarterback hurries and many more defensive stats, so it is safe to say he is always around the ball.With many fans calling for the cutting of Maualuga, if Rey keeps declining then Sean might have to step in and assume that position. The Bengals didn’t seem to have to many more glaring needs so the rest of the picks were spent on possible roster fillers. Two interesting picks were Rex Burkhead and Cobi Hamilton. Burkhead is a running back out of Nebraska. Rex doesn’t have the great forty time or outstanding athleticism that Bernard has but still had success at Nebraska. If Rex makes the squad then he will probably be mostly on special teams covering kicks and punts. These are the glue guys that are needed to do the dirty work and really make a great team. Even though athleticism is an issue for Burkhead, you know you’re getting a tough hardworking kid like most Cornhuskers. Cobi Hamilton is a 6′-3″ wide receiver from Arkansas. With this position seemingly thin, he could come in and make an immediate impact. Hamilton ran a 4.56 forty at the combine, which could the deep threat opposite Green that the Bengals need to get teams to stop doubling Green everytime he steps on the field. Overall the Bengals definitely addressed some positions they needed to. Safety, tight end, running back, and linebacker were the main concerns and all of them were taken care of. There will always be a question circling around my mind whether or not Eifert was worth the first round pick. They made a statement this year by drafting offensive weapons to compliment Dalton and Green, if they can’t get past the wildcard round now, the blame has to start falling on Dalton. All in all, the Bengals had a very solid draft and should improve on the season from last year.