Well fans, here we are. The 2009 NFL Draft is just a few short days away. It’s almost zero hour. Months of anticipation have been building up to this. We’ve watched the Senior Bowl tapes. We’ve studied the combine numbers.
We’ve listened intently to reports from the various pro days. We’ve monitored the mocks and discussed them ad nauseum. It’s show time.
And while we review the various scenarios to determine what the best move may be, we’re all wondering the same thing deep down inside: what crazy, off-the-wall, unexpected move is up the Bengals’ collective sleeve?
After all, we’ve seen it almost annually. When they needed a cornerback and Troy Vincent was miraculously still on the board, the Bengals selected QB David Klingler.
Vincent went on to be productive for a decade while Klinger ushered in an era of futility and ushered out a former NFL MVP with several years of good football left. In fact, Boomer Esiason would return to Cincinnati to pull the team briefly from the depths long after Klingler washed out.
But that’s just one of many. Some are downright legendary, like when they turned down what seemed like a thousand picks from New Orleans to stand pat and pick Akili Smith, another colossal flop. Or there was the surprise move to No. 1 overall to grab Ki-Jana Carter, and the selection of LT Levi Jones when everyone thought they’d select either CB Phillip Buchanon or TE Jeremy Shockey.
How about trading down to get Chris Perry with Steven Jackson still on the board? Like it or not these behaviors are what cause us all, from the casual fan to Mel Kiper Jr., to hold our collective breath when the Bengals’ card reaches the podium.
So while we assume a tackle will be the most logical choice, whether it be Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, or-gasp-Andre Smith, it’s important that we explore every other possibility to prepare ourselves for the inevitable shock we’re about to receive. After all, they are our Bengals. With that in mind, here are some alternative names that may just be called at #6 on Saturday night:
BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
Why it could happen: The Bengals coached him at the Senior Bowl, and came away impressed with the young man’s demeanor. Marvin Lewis has been looking for a dominant DT since he got here, missing on several tries. Tank Johnson is only signed for one year. There are no character concerns now that the report of his positive drug test at the combine has been confirmed to be incorrect.
Why it shouldn’t happen: Besides the fact that the Bengals have bigger needs on offense, they have Tank Johnson, Domata Peko, and they spent two draft picks on DT’s last year in the emerging Pat Sims, and the massive Jason Shirley.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Why it could happen: Crabtree is considered the top wide-out on the board and has a long resume of college success. With TJ Houshmandzadeh a Seahawk and Chad Ochocinco a quiet malcontent, some extra firepower couldn’t hurt. Crabtree reminds some of TJ with his ability to make tough catches in traffic. When you have Carson Palmer as your QB, weapons for him should always be a consideration. Mike Brown loves his skill players on offense.
Why it shouldn’t happen: Offensive tackle and defensive front seven are clearly bigger needs. Some argue Crabtree isn’t a game-breaker, and he’s coming off injury. The Bengals took 3 WR’s in last year’s draft.
Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio State
Why it could happen: The Bengals will look to add to the stable of running backs in this draft. Cedric Benson seems to be a solid starter but will his Chicago woes return? Chris Perry has fumbled his way out of town, Kenny Watson is showing his age, and DeDe Dorsey can’t stay on the field. Besides, Wells went to Ohio State, so you know Mike Brown loves the kid.
Why it shouldn’t happen: Benson is a solid big back, and the team just signed Gary Russell, another big back, off waivers. The team should look for more of a change of pace, 3rd down threat in the later rounds. Wells also carriers a history of injury.
Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Why it could happen: Mike Brown loves QBs. See above for what he did to Boomer Esiason at the height of his career.
Why it shouldn’t happen: Carson Palmer, anyone? This one would be the most colossally stupid and on the surface it makes no sense in any way, shape or form. Admit it though, you wouldn’t be surprised…
Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Why it could happen: The Bengals need juice in the pass rush. Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom are both coming off injury-riddled and disappointing seasons. Mike Zimmer is emphasizing getting to the QB this offseason.
Why it shouldn’t happen: Clearly bigger needs on offense; some question Orakpo as a top-10 talent.
Other players likely to draw interest are Everette Brown, Knowshon Moreno, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Oher. Then there are players not even discussed in this range that they could take, like Rey Maualuga, Malcolm Jenkins, or James Laurinaitis.
Maybe I’m just being jaded. Who knows? Maybe something miraculous will happen. Maybe Monroe or Aaron Curry will fall. Maybe they’ll surprise us this year by not surprising us.