While there are as many as a dozen positions on the roster that can be considered positions of need on some level, the Bengals go into the 2010 draft with no one glaring hole on their roster.
This frees the Bengals up to go a number of directions on draft day and makes mock drafts frustrating to map out, especially for someone like me who has correctly projected the position Cincinnati would draft in round one four of the last five years and correctly guessed the player they would take in three of those years.
To help clear things up and break down what the board may look like when the 21st pick comes up, I looked at all of the mocks listed on Bengals.com’s draft central, including the Bengals.com mock, and saw that I’m not the only one having trouble deciding which way the Bengals will go. As of April 1, the 15 mock drafts had the Bengals selecting 10 different players at six different positions – not exactly numbers that give a definitive direction.
You can, however, see what the board may look like when the Bengals come up. There were 13 players that at least 85 percent of the mocks had gone before the Bengals selected. Noting this, we can assume Eric Berry, Sam Bradford, Bryan Bulaga, Jimmy Clausen, Joe Haden, Rolando McClain, Gerald McCoy, Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul, Russell Okung, Ndamukong Suh, Dan Williams and Trent Williams will all be long gone before the Bengals pick.
Four others – Dez Bryant, Brandon Graham, Mike Iupati and CJ Spiller – were each selected before No. 21 in more than half of the mock drafts. All but Spiller would be options for the Bengals at No. 21 if they were to fall.
That gives a total of 17 players who should be gone by No. 21 meaning the Bengals’ first round big board will need a maximum of four players not mentioned above go guarantee they (and us mocksters) are ready for their pick. Their board may look like this:
1. Earl Thomas, S, Texas. Thomas gives the Bengals the safety with cornerback skills they covet. With his draft stock shooting upward, however, it would be a surprise to see him available when the Bengals turn comes.
2. Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas. While the Bengals have a solid four-man rotation at linebacker right now with Rivers, Jones, Maualuga and Johnson, Kindle brings the blitzing ability Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer covet. If Earl Thomas is gone and Kindle is available, don’t be surprised to see the Bengals take this falling top-15 talent.
3. Taylor Mays, S, USC. Mays would have been Top 10 pick had he come out a year ago. This year’s safety class is more talented, and Mays hurt his cause with some poor showings in pass coverage last year.
4. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. Cincinnati has not had an effective target at the tight end position in nearly two decades. While durability is a concern with Gresham, and other tight end prospects, the window for success won’t be open forever and even help for a few years could be huge for the Bengals.
Other names like receivers Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate or d-lineman Carlos Dunlap and Brian Price may come into the discussion. But if the draft were today, one of the 21 players listed above would probably be the Bengals’ pick.