2011 Community Mock Draft: The Cincinnati Bengals Select...

With the fourth pick of the 2011 CSC Community Mock Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals (represented by coldpizza) select ...

Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

In assessing the Bengals' roster, it would be an outright lie to label their needs as few and far between. In truth, they're a franchise on the brink of collapse. Their fans know it, their front office knows it and, on a far more serious note, their players know it. Let's face it: as a professional football team, winning over fairweather fans is the easy part. All it truly takes is a demonstrative resolve to battle through adversity. To fight the good fight. The far more difficult task lies in getting 53 oversized egomaniacs to buy into that notion of invincible singularity.

In coming within one Pat Sims' encroachment penalty of a possible 3-1 record in December, the Bungles Bengals have at least exhibited recent signs of life. Now, I'm no doctor, but I'm fairly certain that where there's a PULSE, there's HEART. And when the HEART rules the MIND ... well, then you've got yourself a relatively obscure '80s song by GTR . But that's not important right now. What's important is that we continue to spur on that HUNGER. And what better way is there to spur on a CINCINNATI-SIZED hunger...

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via farm3.static.flickr.com

... than with a BIG OL' HONKING 5-WAY FROM SKYLINE?!

Now, as you may have guessed, this isn't your typical 5-Way from Skyline. No, this is more like a creative way of stretching the term "best player available" into a 10,000 word treatise. For you see, each ingredient in this mouth-watering concoction represents a position that I strongly considered in coming to this personnel decision.

In combination, you simply can't go wrong. Fill a roster with every player I'm about to mention and WINNING could not be better explified, even if Charlie Sheen showed up at a '72 Dolphins reunion. Boy (oh boy), do I wish I could draft all of these stinkin' galoots! Alas, I cannot. It is now my job to explain how I boiled it all down to one. How my brain arrived at its conclusion. So, please. Tuck a napkin into your shirt collar, grab a fork and join me as we twirl our way to the bottom of this magnificent mound of metaphors.

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via i844.photobucket.com

RUNNING BACKS and OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
As genocidal as this may sound, we must start by eliminating the soup crackers. They're technically not even a part of our 5-Way. Sure, they're munchy, crunchy and fun to flick around the table. Maybe you toss a few on top of the heap for discussion's sake. But when you get right down to it, they're not doing a whole lot for the meal itself. Is there any SOUP in a 5-Way? No, there is not. Are there any OYSTERS in a 5-Way? Not to my knowledge, there aren't. That's what we're dealing with here, folks. A hearty helping of FUHGETABOUTIT.

Yes, QB protection is a dire need on this team. So is improving upon the sixth worse rushing offense in the entire league. Coughstillbetterthanthesaintscough. WHAT ISN'T? No matter how you choose to look at it, there simply is no ONE player at any of those four positions, worthy of this high a pick.

That said, in the REAL WORLD, I would be working the phones like Ernestine, trying to find a potential trade partner. In fact, I would have started that exercise long before the name Cam Newton ever slipped past Roger Goodell's pearly whites.

Why? Because when a team's list of needs is backed up to Jackson Heights, they're typically looking for AS MANY DRAFT PICKS AS POSSIBLE. A trade would also better position this team in the first round, where its BIGGEST needs (the soup crackers) could feasibly be addressed. I'm talking about the 16-24 range where the Castonzos, Carimis, Pounceys and Ingrams of the talent pool are expected to fall. There's one other name I could easily add to that list, but I'll keep you big sillies in suspense for now.

Unfortunately, this is NOT the real world. We must draft by the RULES. No TRADES! And no SOUP CRACKERS for you! Dave is a complete dictator. But we all love him. Almost as much as we love Skyline.

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via o5t.net

CORNERBACKS
Not everyone likes onions. I love them. They're delicious and they freshen my breath. There aren't any positions in football that freshen my breath, however. So, we're going to have to come up with a better commonality than that. How about this? While completely worthy of being on a 5-Way, onions are the least important Way out there. Except maybe Charles Way, considering he retired more than a decade ago.

The LEAST important. Le hmm. Well, let's take a peek at our strong suits, shall we? The 2010 Bengals had a exceptional tandem of young CBs in former first round picks Leon Hall (2007) and Jonathan Joseph (2006). Under normal circumstances, that could easily be considered the area of the team with the LEAST need for improvement. One problem. Joseph is an unrestricted free agent.

Remember earlier, when I mentioned the importance of getting these players to believe in themselves? Well, that's very much a two-way street. Not to be confused with a 2-Way Skyline, which is something we're working towards. In order for them to fully buy into the TEAM concept, the TEAM has to fully buy into the INDIVIDUAL PLAYER. At least, the ones they'd like to retain.

So, if Jonathan Joseph is someone we want back, would it be in our best interests to spend a first round pick on his REPLACEMENT? It would, if we truly think he's going to spurn us. But that entire ideology is usually nothing more than a game of cat and mouse. If Joseph has any desire whatsoever of moving on to greener pastures, it's only because they're greener. He wants to WIN. In order to build a successful franchise, WINNING and LEAVING simply cannot be viewed as synonymous. In this particular case, we're talking about a blue chip asset. We should be doing everything in our power to make guys like Joseph feel welcomed back.
Fortunately, even if that comes back to bite us, it's not like the cornerback cupboard is completely bare. Brandon Ghee and Fred Bennett are both still under contract, as well as the enigmatic Adam "The Artist Formerly Known as Pac-Man" Jones. Let's go ahead and call cornerbacks our ONIONS and eliminate the oh-so-talented Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara from our slowly dwindling wish list. Let's also cross our fingers and hope that our proven ONION (Joseph) doesn't bring a tear to our eyes, by cutting a deal with another team.


WIDE RECEIVERS
What don't go better with cheddar? My English, apparently. Great question, though. Anyone have any ideas? Anyone? What about ... things with CHEESE already on them? Like our roster, for example. I'm obviously referring to Chad "The Artist Formerly Known as Ochocinco Formerly Known as Johnson Now Once Again Known as" Johnson. And T.O. You know, for a so-called cancer, that was one hell of a lot easier to type.

As with onions, cheese could be left off a 5-Way and you'd still have a pretty good meal. Only this time, we're no longer talking about a couple of young bucks. Owens is 37. Johnson is 33. The square root of Christmas is 35. I digress. A 22 year old stud WR would do a whole lot more for our aging receiving corps, than a stud rookie CB would do for our relatively youthful secondary. Aged cheese is better, but only to a point. After that, it begins to mildew.

Let's inspect our cheese for signs of mold. Terrell Owens is coming off a remarkable season for someone of his age. While a return doesn't appear likely, the door has yet to slam shut behind him. Johnson is still under contract and playing at a fairly high level himself. Not unlike at CB, the Bengals have a safety net of promising younger WR prospects already in place; 2008's Jerome Simpson (2nd) and Andre Caldwell (3rd) and 2010's Jordan Shipley (3rd).

Are any of these players of the caliber of an A.J. Green or a Julio Jones going forward? Probably not. But I do think there's enough talent there to hold them over at the position. Again, if you're not out REPLACING Owens, maybe he's content to come back for another season. I didn't hear about a whole lot of b**** ing on his part in 2010, despite being chained up in the AFC North cellar. His friendship with Chad could have a lot to do with that.

My advice? Don't shoot for the moon. As grate as the (Green) CHEESE may turn out to be, we'll ultimately be better off going in another direction. This coming from a fan of the New Orleans Saints, a team that already has their own (Red) CHEESE. Generating a BUZZ is not necessary in order to win. That's more than my opinion. That's common sense. If two teams squared off in a vacuum, odds are one of them is going to emerge victorious. That's assuming they don't succumb to oxygen deprivation in the interim.

What's needed far moreso than additional merchants of excitement, are true DIFFERENCE MAKERS at the most critical positions on the field. And WIDE RECEIVER is absolutely not one of those. At least, not until you have your very own Drew Brie(s) to throw to him. Sorry for all the cheesy puns, btw. I'll try to limit this muensterosity to just a few more paragraphs.

QUARTERBACKS
Spaghetti may very well be the base ingredient in a 5-Way, but let's not kid ourselves here. What would you rather eat on a blustery winter day: a bowl of plain noodles, or a bowl of delicious chili? Such a vexing dilemma. Should we take a brief commercial break while you (Christian) Ponder that? Do realize, Skyline also serves coneys. Heck, you can even sneak a loaf of bread in under your coat for a poor man's dipping feast. There's plenty of creative ways to get around SPAGHETTI.

There's also plenty of ways to get around drafting a QB in the fourth overall slot. As with every other position we've already covered, that's not to say it's not area of concern. Carson Palmer's days may very well be numbered as Lord of the Jungle. What's more, there's no Johnny Weismuller in sight. Trouble is, pickings are slim. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are both off the board. Not a major concern there, as I have Jake Locker graded out higher than either. What is a concern, however, is how poorly this QB class grades out on the whole. That is, in relation to Palmer, to his other brother Palmer, to QBs potentially available in free agency and to the 2012 class. When it comes to franchise QBs, it's not a stretch to call this entire lot a bunch of im-PASTAS. Ok, I lied. That most certainly was a stretch.

As much as I like Locker, his recent accuracy woes simply must be taken into account. For a franchise with the names Akili Smith and David Klingler still ringing in its ears, this is especially true. Twice bitten, once shy? Perhaps. Take me down to Soupcrackerville and we'll discuss it. Way up here in the Spaghetti town, where it takes a feller two hands and a foot worth of fingers to count up last season's losses, we're thinking VALUE, Bubba. Value as in "Jake Locker SUCKS! Don't even waste a Top 2 pick in the second round on his sorry buttocks!" Heh. In all seriousness, even if every other team in the market for a starting quarterback DIDN'T just buy into that Br'er Rabbit inspired ruse, there's bound to be a similiar crapshoot staring us in the face at 35.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
The Bengals employ a 4-3 defense, which is a scheme that relies heavily on the strength of its defensive line. Despite this, no other team in the NFL sacked opposing QBs fewer times in 2010. Coughnoteventhesaintscough. See? Bet you didn't know I could cough optimistically.

Like the Saints, it's an area of considerable concern. Unlike the Saints, Cincinnati is in a position to address that particular need with an elite prospect. It's an opportunity that they simply MUST take advantage of. The only question left now is: do they go inside, or do they go outside? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the chili.

Chili, with or without BEANS, makes a great meal in and of itself. It don't need no stinkin' pasta! AOL keywords: with or without. They don't market legumes as "with or without" chili, do they? Well, of course not. Don't be ridiculous. Therefore, we must assume that beans are less important than the rich, meaty lava we all know and love. SHUT UP, VEGAN! No one asked you.

So, what's less important? A dominant DE or a dominant DT? When it comes to generating QB pressure in a 4-3, that's a (Nick) Fairley simple question to answer. Wait ... what's that faint chant I hear in the distance? SEC! SEC! SEC! Wow, they must REALLY love their college football down south, if we can pick up on that all the way up here in Ohio. We're talking about a malcontent here, folks. Yes, I know the Bengals have chased after red flags more times than the bulls at Pamplona. That doesn't mean that I have to blindly follow suit. Remember Dan "Big A-Hole" Wilkinson? He was from just up the road in Columbus, and he despised playing in Cincinnati. As a "prejudiced, uptight and stiff" Bengals fan, are you ready to be coldly embraced once again? Nope. Bean there, done that.

Beyond the chequered personality issues, there are the ages and contract lengths of the incumbent defensive linemen to consider. Domata Peko (26) has one tackle spot nailed down for the next four seasons. Pat Sims (26) has just one year remaining on his current deal and appears to be the most likely interior lineman to be replaced. Beyond that, there's Geno Atkins (23) and Tank Johnson (29) both with three years remaining.

While not a dominant group by any means, they're at least a relatively young group that's locked up long term. That's more than can be said of their defensive ends. Granted, there's still the issue of poor run support in the middle, but that's something I plan on addressing shortly. For now, let's just say that I'm not sold on Nick Fairley being the end all answer to our pass rushing woes.

DEFENSIVE ENDS
Ok, first thing's first. If you have absolutely no desire to pick that pot up and pour CHILI down your gullet, there is no hope for you as a homo sapien. Without digressing, ground filet mignon is about the only thing that could improve upon it. That's where we currently are in our position analysis. We've successfully pinpointed the ultimate facet of a Skyline 5-Way. Now, all we have to do is make sure we're getting the absolute best QUALITY chili money can buy.

Three candidates loom large at this position: Da'Quan Bowers, Robert Quinn and Von Miller. Miller's more of an OLB/DE hybrid, something we already have locked up in Michael Johnson (24). Last year's starter at MLB, Dhani Jones (33), is no longer in the picture, nor do we want him in it. This allows Rey Maualuga to move back inside where he's most effective, thereby shoring up the interior run defense. Johnson then becomes a full time OLB, with former Top 10 pick Keith Rivers manning the opposite side.
Carlos Dunlap (22), the team's lone productive DE last season, supplants an ineffective Robert Geathers at LDE. As the best pure pass rusher in this draft, Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers gets the nod over Quinn as Johnson's replacement on the weak side.

Bowers exploded on to the scene this past season as a pass rusher. While he appeared to be a dormant force in this department his first two seasons, Da'Quan led the nation in sacks in 2010 with 15.5. At 6'4" 280 lbs, he has excellent closing speed and can live in opponents' backfields if not given proper attention. He does a nice job of disengaging and closes extremely fast.
More importantly, he's anything but a one trick pony. Da'Quan has been exceptional against the run throughout his collegiate career. Not only does he possess solid anchor strength in his lower body, he also has tremendous recognition skills. He uses leverage and his upper body power to manipulate blockers and seal the edge.

Bowers possesses a non-stop motor in the run game, having both the agility and speed to track down ball carriers in pursuit. He's a fundamentally sound tackler, that will routinely make plays both downfield and in the backfield. His overall game has been compared to that of Julius Peppers by several NFL scouts. Da'Quan shares that opinion. By all accounts, he's a likeable kid with a good attitude and a strong work ethic. While there is some concern over the current condition of his knee (slight meniscus tear), it's not thought to be anything serious.

So, there you have it. The Cincinnati Bengals will be looking to "meat" their fans' expectations, by injecting a little more Tiger blood into their veins. Only, it won't be a Tiger from Baton Rouge, Auburn or even Columbia. No, this big cat hails from Clemson, South Carolina.


Thanks to all the CSC members who participated in this years community mock draft. Without your help, none of this would be possible.

Below are the complete results from our community mock draft.

Catch up with all of the mock draft selections in our 2011 CSC Community Mock Draft Section.

Pick Team Selection Team Representative Approval Rating
1 Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton - Auburn DatFan 35%
2 Denver Broncos DT Marcell Dareus - Alabama Jeff.l.b 71%
3 Buffalo Bills QB Blaine Gabbert - Missouri SpreeGoogs
4 Cincinnati Bengas DE Da'Quan Bowers - Clemson coldpizza
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