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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-04-18


Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-04-18


Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2009-04-18
With 11 picks in the draft, including nine on the second day, the Bengals are intent on upgrading both the offensive and defensive lines while shoring up some needs in other positions that are lacking depth.


After using their first-round picks five straight years, the Bengals need immediate upgrades on the offensive line, especially at tackle. While Virginia's Eugene Monroe would be a great fit, it is doubtful that he would still be available with the sixth pick, leaving Alabama's Andre Smith and Mississippi's Michael Oher as the two options.

Following team visits and workouts with Smith and Oher, the Bengals are leaning toward taking Smith because he was more potential and has graded out better than Oher. Another thing in Smith's favor is that he can play left and right tackle.

With this year's center class yielding three good prospects -- Oregon's Max Unger, California's Alex Mack and Louisville's Eric Wood -- the Bengals will be looking to address that spot in the middle rounds. The center spot has been marked by inconsistent play since Rich Braham retired in 2006.

A defensive line that has not been able to put pressure on the quarterback the last two years is also likely to be addressed. The Bengals did sign Tank Johnson but continue to lack quality backups at both end and tackle, which was exposed last year with injuries to Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers.

If Smith is not the definitive choice, they could be interested in Boston College's B.J. Raji, should they choose to address defense in the first round. The Bengals' coaching staff worked with Raji during the Senior Bowl and came away impressed.

The Bengals are in a good spot at six to entertain trade offers, but team president Mike Brown is not known to be aggressive in moving down. They also could look at offers for disgruntled wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, who is not attending offseason conditioning. The organization remains split on whether to trade him or keep him.

TEAM NEEDS: Offensive tackle, center, defensive end, running back, fullback.

OT -- With right tackle Stacy Andrews' departure in free agency and left tackle Levi Jones' future uncertain due to injuries, the Bengals need an immediate upgrade at the position. Anthony Collins, a fourth-round pick last year who started six games, could be Andrews' replacement but they need a cornerstone at left tackle. The line last year gave up 51 sacks and the blocking was inconsistent as quarterback Carson Palmer was injured early in the season.

C -- Eric Ghiaciuc, who has been the starter since early in 2006, is an unrestricted free agent and will not be back. He was often overmatched against nose tackles in the AFC North. Kyle Cook, Dan Santucci and Andrew Crummey are on the depth chart, but only one of them has taken snaps in an NFL game.

DE -- Robert Geathers has been inconsistent the last three seasons while Antwan Odom was plagued by injuries in his first year as a Bengal. Geathers also had microfracture surgery during the offseason, which means he will not be ready until at least minicamp in June. With defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer looking to blitz more, an aggressive end that can consistently put pressure on the quarterback rates as a need.

RB -- Cedric Benson re-signed a two-year deal during free agency and looks to be the starter, but the Bengals do not have a dependable backup behind him. With the AFC North being a runner's division, having two backs is a necessity. While Benson is a straight-ahead runner with good speed, the Bengals could look for a quick backup who can run outside the tackles and also can catch the ball out of the backfield.

FB -- After the release of Jeremi Johnson last year, Daniel Coats played the position, but he is better suited at tight end. With coach Marvin Lewis ready to stress the run even more, the Bengals are going to need a dependable, blocking fullback who could carry the ball in a power formation.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

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