I was supposed to do the entire AFC North over the weekend. I felt bad when I didn’t deliver, but then Rosenthal said the schedule contemplates getting all of the Team Needs finished by Friday.
It makes me wonder why I’m doing this one with so much time left.
QB: No matter how many times owner Mike Brown says it, Carson Palmer won’t be back. But Brown hopes to at least create the impression that the team isn’t desperate for a quarterback in the draft. Given that the options are Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour, the Bengals need to be very desperate. Though the Bengals could wait for free agency or trade prospects (like Kevin Kolb), the safest approach would be to grab Blaine Gabbert if he’s available with the fourth pick in round one.
WR: Terrell Owens won’t be back, and Chad Ochocinco possibly won’t be. Even if Ochocinco returns, he’s under contract for only one more year. But keep in mind that the Bengals found Ochocinco in round two and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in round seven 10 years ago. They don’t need to risk a top-five bust by picking A.J. Green, who could up being the latest in a long line of can’t-miss wideouts who, once they get to the NFL level, can’t catch.
S: They need to go younger, especially since three of the current in-house options will be free agents once the lockout ends. They could address the issue in the later rounds of the draft, or continue to rely on veteran free agents, like Roy Williams.
CB: Johnathan Joseph is due to become a free agent. If they don’t sign him, they’ll have to replace him. They may be tempted to take Patrick Peterson if he’s available at No. 4. It’s far more important, however, to fill the void at quarterback.
LB: Dhani Jones, the starter in the middle, is 34. They need to be thinking about the future, especially since the future could be now.
Overview: Though Marvin Lewis will be back for at least one more year, the Bengals are a team in transition. An unsettled quarterback position could prompt them to rely on their running backs while the passing game retools, which could be a good thing. To make it work, however, their defense needs to play like it did in 2009, and it could make sense to finally set Chad Ochocinco free, especially if they can get something of value in return for him.