This pick and analysis was written by CSC member FriarBob. Thank you very much for your participation!
With the sixth pick in the Canal Street Chronicles community mock draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select...
B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
Given that Bengals Owner/GM Mike Brown is almost as old as Al Davis and on first glance appears only slightly less senile, figuring out what he will pick isn't an easy assignment. But he's actually far smarter than he's given credit for, and is good at planning for the future. He's been patient with Marvin Lewis because he knows his own screw-ups are the true root of the problem (hence the screaming from fans for a GM). He will not worry about getting an immediate starter out of even a #6 pick. What he wants is a character guy who will anchor a position for 10 years.
Last year the Bengals had the 12th ranked defense in the league, which was outright amazing given that they got NO help from their dead-last offense. This was caused by early reliance on Chris "Butterfingers" Perry as a primary RB, that Palmer's arm was torn off (because Perry failed to pick up a blitz), that Ryan "Double-Clutch and then play RB" Fitzpatrick shouldn't play QB in the backyard much less the NFL, and that Willie Anderson was let go in favor of the unproven Shawn Andrews. When Andrews left as a UFA the shouts of joy in Cincinnati should have been heard inside the Superdome.
Many draftniks say the Bengals need a left tackle to keep Palmer upright, and that they need one so badly they will take Andre Smith despite character concerns. They are chugging too much cool-aid. He is actually an option, but not for those reasons. First off, for all the recent character screw-ups they didn't make that mistake in the first round. They made it in the 2nd or 3rd for people who had first-round talent but poor character. Secondly, they actually have THREE good left tackles on their current roster: Levi Jones, Andrew Witworth, and Anthony Collins. Even if Jones is truly on the way out Witworth has almost played more LT than he's played left guard, plus the 2008 rookie Collins blanked James Harrison in his first start ever. They do not have an emergency need to take a LT. What their offense does NOT have is a proven, solid right tackle, a true fullback, or a proven beast of a center who can handle the AFC North nose tackles. However those positions don't get drafted in the top 10. And while they could use another RB the history of Ki-Jana Carter almost certainly eliminates Chris Wells. So we come back to Andre Smith (who would be a major run-blocking upgrade). If they buy his agent's hand-waving then they could take him after all. (Of course, had Jason Smith been available they would almost certainly not even hesitate, and Monroe they would certainly strongly consider.) Otherwise, the only logical need to address is a defensive playmaker. If need be there will be tackles in the 2nd or 3rd round who are legitimate options as well (Collins was a 4th).
Given that they have two good 1st round corners, three good safeties, and an at least decent LB corp without a clear upgrade in sight, that means the DL. Last year they collected 17 sacks, which was tied for 30th in the league, and in two games against the Steelers (whose swiss-cheese line gave up 49) they barely even got a hand on Roethlisberger. They have to get more QB pressure next year. With a healthy Geathers and Odom and a more experienced Sims, if they add a dominant DT who can blow people off the line this could be done. And not only could Raji play either tackle position in the 4-3, but he also gives them options if they ever get around to switching to the 3-4 like the rest of the AFC North. The only legitimate knock on him was the academic suspension in 2007, yet he's also proven he can clean up his act because he already did so in 2008. Also, last year all of Cincinnati was screaming for a trade up to make sure they got a dominant DT. Sometimes making the fans happy, even if a year late, is just what you have to do.
Rivals.com's scouting report on B.J. Raji also says he fits the bill:
A thick, low-built tackle with excellent lower body strength and power on contact. Has a great first step for his size and really gets into offensive linemen quickly. Displays impressive base strength to hold the point of attack against the double-team or push the pocket. Uses his strong leg drive to bull-rush defenders and showcases excellent suddenness and a good rip to get off blockers.
Add it all up and the only logical choice at this point is B.J. Raji.
The Oakland Raiders are now on the clock...