Pass Offense - 223.6 ypg (17th)
Total Offense - 332.7 ypg (22nd)
Scoring Offense - 24.4 ppg (12th)
Rush Defense - 107.2 ypg (12th)
Pass Defense - 212.5 ypg (7th)
Total Defense - 319.7 ypg (6th)
Scoring Defense - 20.0 ppg (8th) Offense: Potential right tackle, clarity at center and running back
Defense: Linebacker, safety and overall depth
Although Andy Dalton struggled the last couple months of the season, he's Cincinnati's QB for the foreseeable future. Dalton's continued progress will be key for the 2013 season. Bruce Gradkowski is an unrestricted free agent but he's the perfect backup. If Gradkowski returns, the Bengals shouldn't eye a QB – or at least wait until the sixth round. If Gradkowski moves on, it may make more sense to find a savvy veteran for the backup role.
Jordan Rodgers won't jump off the film, but the more that you watch, the more you'll like what he can do. He led Vanderbilt to consecutive bowl games, which proves his ability to carry a team to new heights. He won't win a quarterback beauty contest, but teams want the ball in his hands late in a tight game. Klein could be intriguing for a completely different reason. As a change-up, running quarterback, the Bengals could utilize him in special situations, perhaps out of the pistol or in zone read situations. It's hard to imagine Dalton coming off the field, but Klein provides a much different dimension worth exploring late in the draft.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, had his second 1,000-plus yard season in three years, but averaged only 3.9 yards per carry. His workload picked up considerably last year with 300 touches (278 carries and 22 receptions). Behind him are nothing but question marks. Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard are unrestricted free agents and Cedric Peerman is a restricted free agent. The Bengals selected Dan 'Boom' Herron in the sixth round last year, but the Bengals will eye a running back early in the draft.
With two second-round picks, the Bengals should spend one on a running back. The value at running back is at its highest in the second and third rounds, so it's an advantageous spot. In the AFC North, a back like Lacy makes the most sense. Eddie Lacy won't blaze the track in the 40 at the Combine, but he runs angry, with tremendous feet and vision. Joe Randle is a complete back with the ability to take every touch to the house. His combination of running and receiving skills can open up the offense in a way the Bengals haven't experienced in quite some time. Bernard will be the top back on many boards. He's a patient runner who excels in the passing game and made a number of big plays in the screen game. If the Bengals wait until later in the draft, Mike Gillislee is a great option and excellent value in the fourth round, while Christine Michael is another power runner, who never reached his full potential at Texas A&M.
The Bengals have one of the best, and most dangerous, receivers in the NFL in A.J. Green. All the second-year pro did in 2012 was catch 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Andrew Hawkins has emerged as a poor man's Wes Welker, dominating in the slot with 51 receptions. Green and Hawkins excel in their own areas of the field. Hawkins is an exclusive-rights free agent so there's no guarantee he's back next year, but it would behoove the Bengals to bring him back. The Bengals drafted a pair of receivers, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, last year and it's time for them to pay dividends.
Da'Rick Rogers needed a swift kick in the backside while he was at Tennessee and if a team knows how to rehabilitate a player needing an infusion of maturity, it's Cincinnati. The former Tennessee Tech star oozes natural ability and should be a top-10 pick in this draft. But he's not because he has equal moments of inconsistency and brilliance. Marquise Goodwin can fly, but he's also come a long way as a receiver. Aaron Dobson has amazing hands, but his 40 time at the combine could move him up and down boards. Chris Harper is a physical beast. He can fight to get open, using his strength to get separation, and finds open holes in zone coverages.
Jermaine Gresham made his first Pro Bowl, named to the team as a replacement for Pittsburgh's star tight end Heath Miller. Although he finished the year with a rough performance against Houston in the playoffs, he remains one of the best pass-catchers in the AFC. The Bengals spent a fourth-round selection on former Georgia star Orson Charles in 2012, so the team is in excellent shape at the position. The only options on the board would be tight ends who are adequate in-line blockers to assist the run game.
Although Michael Williams has a soft pair of hands and made plays throughout his Alabama career, there's one reason the Bengals will target him with one of their sixth round selections: he can block. Justice Cunningham is a good blocker, as well, and became a seam target in the passing game as the season progressed. Similar to Williams, Cunningham was often difficult to find during a game as he played traditional tight end, fullback and H-Back. Neither will be needed in that role, but as run-blocking tight ends go, they are the two best options.
The Bengals offensive line gave up 46 sacks last season, which is the bad news. Right tackle Andre Smith is an unrestricted free agent, which is even more bad news given the fact that over the past couple of seasons he made himself into one of the best right tackles in the NFL. If the Bengals place the franchise tag on DE Michael Johnson, instead of Smith, the former Alabama tackle should command significant money on the open market, his arrest at the Atlanta airport in January notwithstanding. The other tough question is at center. Trevor Robinson and Kyle Cook each saw time at center, but neither distinguished himself as the clear cut starter.
D.J. Fluker is a man and a half and he may eventually be more suited to move into guard at some point in his career. That said, he's more athletic than most 350-pounders and would help the run game immensely. His pass protection technique needs some work and speed rushers will give him fits for a while. However, he can mash at the point of attack. Fluker's teammate, Barrett Jones, is more technician than athlete, but he'll be in charge of the offensive line from Day 1. Oday Aboushi spent his college career at left tackle but is best suited at right tackle. He's too mechanical and bulky to remain on the left, but will complement Whitworth well. Menelik Watson is an intriguing prospect given his basketball background and the fact he's only played a few years of football.
The defensive line has matured into one of the best groups in the AFC, and Geno Atkins is perhaps the most disruptive defensive tackle in the conference. However, the Bengals need last year's draft class (Devon Still and Brandon Thompson) to play larger roles in 2013. DE Michael Johnson is the key. He had a tremendous season with 11.5 sacks and there's a good chance he'll get the franchise tag. If Johnson comes back, the Bengals can target late-round value.
Everett Dawkins shows flashes as a 3-technique. When at full volume, he's on par with the best tackles in this draft. But he didn't maintain that level throughout his career. In short bursts, he's got loads of potential. Quinton Dial is the most interesting. He's a specimen who plays angry, has versatility and would be a tremendous prospect to play behind Atkins and Domata Peko inside. William Campbell showed flashes in his one year as a starter, but he's got a long way to go.
The unprecedented season for undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict was a surprise. Unfortunately, the flip side of Burfict's amazing season was the inconsistent play of middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. The former USC star struggled in the playoffs. The timing couldn't have been worse given his unrestricted free agent status. OLB Manny Lawson is also an unrestricted free agent, leaving Burfict as the only sure thing at linebacker. He'll replace Maualuga.
Burfict's move opens one outside spot and Alec Ogletree is the best fit if he's still on the board at No. 21. The Georgia product is no angel but if he's focused and allowed to play in space, he could be the most dynamic defensive player in this draft. He doesn't take on blocks well nor does he play through the trash in the middle as you'd like, but out in space, with the ability to run, there's no telling the impact he could have. Khaseem Greene, like Ogletree, is a former safety. Unlike Ogletree, he weaves his way in and out of the middle, taking on blocks. Arthur Brown can play any linebacker position. He reads and deciphers plays as well as any linebacker in the game. Kevin Minter could move to sam linebacker, playing alongside Burfict.
The Bengals' unrestricted free agent circus continues in the secondary with four defensive backs unsigned. Terence Newman, Pacman Jones, Nate Clements and Chris Crocker are looking for new deals and it's hard to imagine the team re-signing all four. S Reggie Nelson and CB Leon Hall seem solid, but the other two spots are wide open. The Bengals didn't get anything out of 2012 first-round CB Dre Kirkpatrick. If he's healthy going into the season, he'll get the first shot at starting opposite Hall. Safety will be a free-for-all that will likely include an early round pick competing with 2012 fifth-rounder George Iloka.
Kenny Vacarro is a great fit. He's not tremendous in coverage, but plays well attacking the line of scrimmage. Matt Elam is the most complete safety in this class, but lacks the size to be a top 10 selection. He possesses a high football IQ and plays the game as physically as any safety in this class. Bacarri Rambo was suspended for the first four games of the season. From a pure skill perspective, he's on par with the top players in this draft. But, he's reckless and takes risks regularly, which didn't get him in a ton of trouble in college, but could keep him from being a consistent starter at the next level. He's a fierce hitter who has grown as a playmaker in coverage, though, which makes a late second round selection a good fit.
John Harris hosts The John Harris Show for Yahoo! Sports Radio.
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