With the NFL Draft less than a month away, there has been frequent speculation about which player each team will choose with their first pick. The Cincinnati Bengals will make their first selection 24th overall on May 8th. There seems to be an understanding in the football world, that Cincinnati will start with upgrading a position on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest question is, which position?
The loss of last year’s starting defensive end, Michael Johnson, has draft analysts such as NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis projecting the Bengals to select a defensive end with their first round pick. CBS Sports’ Will Brinson also has the Cincinnati Bengals choosing a DE. Much like Davis and Brinson, most draft boards (that do project Cincinnati to select a DE) have the defending AFC North champs selecting Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. Ford is a pass rusher with “SEC speed” and exceptional strength.
Cornerback is another popular position that has been proposed as the top priority for the Cincinnati Bengals heading into 2014. This proposal is a great one, seeing that the one piece the Bengals lacked on defense in 2013 was an elite cornerback that could change the game with one play. Both, ESPN draft insiders, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have Cincinnati acquiring a CB with their first pick. McShay feels Bradley Roby will be the best available cornerback after the first 23 picks. Mel Kiper predicts the Bengals will go with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. Though he acknowledges the fact that the Jim Thorpe Award winner would be a huge steal for Cincinnati if he was still available that late in the first round.
Taking Dennard’s unanimous First-team All-American selection into consideration, it is plausible the 5’11 corner will be off the board when the Cincinnati Bengals turn finally comes. Ohio State’s Bradley Roby will be the next-man-up. Standing 5’11 as well, Roby registered a 4.39 second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. His speed, along with his 38.5 inch vertical jump will make him an extremely reliable cover man at the next level. The Second-team All-American is excellent at jumping slot routes for an INT. He also delivers powerful blows that separate wide receivers from the football. Roby’s bump-and-run coverage may be the best of any cornerback coming out this year. Simply put, he is the most sensible choice for Marvin Lewis and Bengals owner/ General Manager Mike Brown in the first round.