Written by: Barry Lewis on April 23, 2011
There are only a handful of teams that are going to enter the 2011 season as a favorite to land the #1 pick in the 2012 draft. The Cincinnati Bengals are going to be at the top of that list.
Carson Palmer has threatened to retire if he is not traded by the Bengals. Terrell Owens is not coming back either. And there are rumors that Chad Johnson will likely be traded. That will leave them with a quarterback of Dan LeFevour with Andre Caldwell, Jordan Shipley and Jerome Simpson as their top 3 wideouts.
Fortunately, it has been indicated by the Bengals new offensive coordinator that their team is moving to a new power offense that will not only feature the running game but use it more than 65% of the time.
They drafted OT Andre Smith when the whole world knew that he was going to be an issue and he has under-produced according to where he was drafted three years ago out of Alabama.
Thankfully, their defense is pretty darn good and if Carlos Dunlap can build on his rookie season, as well as Ray Maulauga and Keith Rivers can stay healthy, then they might be able to hang in games this year.
Add Robert Quinn to the equation and their front 7 could be very, very good. Unfortunately, the Carson Palmer issue is so bad that the Bengals turned around and traded picks 35 and 42 for QB Jake Locker and a projected backup ILB in Akeem Dent. Picks 35 and 42 ended up going to the Chicago Bears which ended up selecting OG Danny Watkins (1st round grade) and OLB Bruce Carter (2nd round grade).
Following that trade, the Bengals did rebound a bit by drafting WR Leonard Hankerson out of Miami who could become a #1 wideout and recovered from the Watkins miss with John Moffitt, OG out of Wisconsin, who is as big as the aforementioned Smith.
Rounding out their draft was RB Jacquizz Rodgers from Oregon State who could battle for a starting job in a couple of years and should, at the very least, become a very effective kick returner and 3rd down back.
From a talent point of view. The Bengals did well. Quinn, Locker, Hankerson, Rodgers, Moffitt and Dent are all solid picks. It is this opinion that the cost for Locker was too high and that Hankerson is not going to be enough for this team to come close to going .500 despite how good this defense can be.
Nevertheless, the Bengals deserve a solid B on their draft and had they been able to avoid the Locker trap, it would have been A-.