With the seventeenth pick of the 2012 CSC Community Mock Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals (chosen by coldpizza) select...
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Coming off a 9-7 wild card campaign in 2011, the Bengals have roughly five positions of concern. At least, to the extent of being worthy of first round consideration. I won't bother comparing the gravity of each to an ingredient in Skyline chili this year, since the vast majority of you argumentative f***s haven't proven to be worthy of such top notch entertainment.
What I am willing to do, however, is bore the living bejesus out of you for the next half hour, by rambling off my own opinion-laden list of their five most pressing areas of need...in reverse order:
5. Defensive end. While the Bengals did manage to record a respectable 45 sacks as a team in 2011, just 17.5 (39%) of those came from the outermost edges of their defensive line. This is where pressure is supposed to originate in the 4-3. Stop me if any of this starts to sound familiar. They've since lost UFA Frostee Rucker, who led the entire league in stops per snap percentage at the position, to division rival Cleveland and occasional fill-in Jonathan Fanene to New England. By most accounts, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap are expected to vie for the starting RDE position opposite Robert Geathers, but a lack of quality depth could turn out to be a concern.
Based on the general non-urgency of the situation, the front office has decided to go the discount route, bringing in a couple of relatively recent first round busts, Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey, both selected 8th overall in the 2007 and 2008 drafts respectively. It's basically what I like to call the "throw sh** at a wall and see if it will stick" approach. With any luck, at least one of the two will turn out to be C+ material in a reserve role, thereby serving as a stop gap measure, until the position can be better addressed.
While less than an ideal scenario in the real world, it appears to have worked out rather nicely in this mock draft, at least in terms of what's still available. The only DE worth targeting at this point, Whitney "Mingda" Mercilus, a raw 'tweener from Illinois, offers little more than Keith Rivers does in this particular scheme. What do you mean "Flash Gordon approaching"? Sorry, too much Freddie Mercury on the brain. It won't happen again. While I'm generally a huge proponent of stocking up on pass rushers -- as evidenced by my mock push for Da'Quan Bowers this time last year -- I'm not into forced picks and Mercilus simply isn't a very good fit.
4. Offensive guard. Long time fixture Bobbie Williams is thought to have played his last in the NFL. At 35 years old and coming off a broken ankle, it's probably just as well that his contract expired in March. Meanwhile, starting LG Nate Livings has skipped off to Dallas, leaving the team without both of their starting guards from last season. In a respectable attempt to offset these exoduses, the Bengals have since landed former Panther Travelle Wharton. He's expected to replace Livings, but there's still a void at RG.
Based on this, Georgia's Cordy Glenn is a name that's getting thrown around a lot in online mocks. While I have little against Glenn as an OG prospect, I'm generally not a big believer in spending first round picks on interior offensive linemen, unless they've already proven to be absolute studs at the position they're projected to play in the pros, like Brandon Albert and Maurkice Pouncey were coming out of college. Glenn is more along the lines of a jack of all trades, master of none. The only true OG that even comes close to that level of can't-missity in this draft is Stanford's David DeCastro and he's already a gone pecan. Super sweet pick btw, Jimbo03. If the Chiefs actually do manage to land DeCastro opposite Albert, remind me to snag Jamaal Charles in each and every one of my FF drafts.
The Bengals are reportedly high on former 5th round pick Otis Hudson's potential. Now, that's not saying he's the long term answer at RG, but it DOES further validate the ideology that quality interior offensive linemen can be found in the later rounds. As such, what's the more prudent pick in hindsight: Ben Grubbs in the 1st or Jahri Evans in the 4th? What about Carl Nicks in the 5th? Do you see where I'm going with this? Either way, Hudson could use some steady competition for the starting job. In short, OG is definitely a position worth addressing, just not necessarily this early on.
3. Running back. Consistently inconsistent Cedric Benson averaged less than 4 yards per carry for the third time in four seasons last year and he's currently looking for a job because of it. Hoo to the effing rah. Bernard Scott returns in what figures to remain a reserve role, after the Bengals landed former Patriot and native New Orleanian BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency. Despite this signing -- which I happen to love, if only for what it is -- the "Law Firm" has never been a featured back in the league. There's still seems to be an underlying sense of concern among the Cincy faithful that he may not live up to expectations, if utilized in that capacity. And understandably so. Hark back upon 2005 and LaMont Jordan's less-than-triumphant coming out party with the Raiders. In terms of physical build and skills set, these two are strikingly similiar backs.
With Trent Richardson off the board, there are three RBs with a mid-1st to late-2nd round grade and even fewer teams in the market for a featured back. By my own unedjumacated guesstimation, the market for these players will inevitably boil down to the Bengals versus any other team ISO a complimentary back, without more pressing needs. I'm fairly confident that at least one of these three will fall to the 53rd slot. Worst case scenario, two expansion teams spontaneously materialize, stripping the RB cupboard bare and we're forced to take a flyer on currently injured scatback LaMichael James in the 3rd or 4th. With Andy Dalton under center and the pick I'm about to make, I'm A-ok with that.
2. Wide receiver. A.J. Green is coming off an impressive Pro Bowl rookie season, one in which he was frequently targeted as Dalton's "go to" guy. With the departure of both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens the season prior, there's clearly a youth movement going on here in the Queen City and it's been a lot of fun to watch.
Trouble is, youth is often accompanied by immaturity. Highlight reel flipmeister Jerome Simpson has landed
on his feet in hot water, recently being sentenced to 15 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, 3 years probation and a $7500 fine, after being convicted of narcotics trafficking. There's little doubt he'll also be served with a suspension by NFL commissioner (and part time personal vendetta lord) Roger Goodell.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, UFA Andre Caldwell jumped at the chance to play with Peyton Manning in Denver, leaving Jordan Shipley, Brandon Tate and relative darkhorse Armon Binns to battle it out for the starting gig opposite Green, assuming Simpson isn't active out of the gate.
In truth, there is one position of greater concern, which I will cover shortly. In the interim, let's talk about what our first round selection, Stephen Hill, brings to the table. At 6'4" 215 lbs, Hill is an outstanding physical specimen, and is one of the hottest risers in this draft. For the sake of comparison, A.J. Green is 6'4" 207 lbs, so you're talking about roughly the same breed of jungle cat, at least in terms of build. Hill posted a 4.36 forty time at the Combine in Indianapolis, tying him with two other prospects for fastest overall.
His route running isn't as polished as a couple of the other WRs already off the board, but that's something that typically comes in time. It should be noted that both Caldwell and Simpson were/are sub-par route runners themselves, so it's not like you're talking about a Wes Welker-to-Tiquan Underwood dropoff here, no matter who's starting.
There's no denying Hill's upside. While catching just 28 passes over the course of the 2011 season in Georgia Tech's triple option offense, his receptions resulted in a gaudy 820 yards, which led the nation in yards per catch at 29.3. The Yellow Jacket program has turned out several noteable WRs in recent years, including Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and Demaryius "For One Shining Moment I Made Tim Tebow Look Like a Professional QB" Thomas. Said one NFL scout:
"If the rest of his game can catch up to the ability he shows in the deep passing game, Stephen Hill could be the sleeper of this year's draft."
"Stephen Hill has a unique skills set, can pluck off his frame and is the next big time talent from the Georgia Tech program. He's going to need some time to develop, but he can come in and track the football vertically early on. He's undoubtedly raw, but has all the makings of an NFL starter."
Need a visual? Check out this big time effort against Clemson, as the lanky wideout extends to bring in the deep ball, despite extremely tight pass coverage. So tight, in fact, that the DB should have been flagged for interference. Also, notice the enthusiasm Hill shows after the play is over.
KC Joyner and Mel Kiper, Jr., both have Hill graded out as the fourth best WR prospect in the draft. While this is admittedly a bit of a reach, as far as mock projections go, the top three receivers are all off the board. Most mocks have the third best falling somewhere in this range, with the Bears (at 20th overall) an oft-cited landing spot. I'll go a little deeper into the logic of "reaching" in the next position summary.
Given a full season to develop chemistry with his young QB, Hill's confidence should continue to grow. He and Green could quickly become one of the top receiving tandems in the NFL. With the Bengals, Hill will be under the tutelage of wide receivers coach James Urban, the former Eagles assistant who helped Michael Vick get up to speed. As his rookie season progresses, expect Hill to take more and more pressure off Green in the passing game. In turn, this should make the "Red Rifle" (Dalton), the "Law Firm", TE Jermaine Gresham and the rest of our up-and-coming offensive weapons that much more effective.
1. Cornerback. The Bengals lost Jonathan Joseph to the Texans last season and what was recently one of the top secondaries in the NFL has slowly been deteriorating ever since. Leon Hall ruptured his Achille tendon late last season and, while he remains on schedule in his recovery, there's rampant speculation that he won't be ready to go by the start of the season. Nate Clements has been in a downward spiral ever since he left Buffalo for his 'Niner Mega Millions in 2007, while Adam "Pac-Man" Jones continues to flirt with incarceration and/or a lifetime suspension. Brandon Ghee, Rico Murray and recently signed journeyman Jason Allen round out the peripheral coverage.
Fortunately, there's multiple layers of silver lining here. First, Hall will be back in action at some point this season, which should give the unit a much needed boost. Second, the AFC North isn't exactly a division known for their aerial assault. Still, if you want to advance in the playoffs against the Tom Bradys and Philip Riverseses of the world, you can't rightly afford to piecemeal together your nickel and dime packages.
Third and most importantly, the Bengals select again at 21st overall. Fear not, that write up won't be nearly as long-winded as this one has turned out to be. I'm in the process of sweeping my keyboard's colon, so to speak. In any case, that's a mere four picks away and there are EXACTLY four CBs still on the board that I, coldpizza, deem worthy of a first round selection. And all four of these bad boys are graded out roughly the same.
That at least guarantees me the non-pick of the litter. HIGH FIVE! /slicks sideburn back. Oooh, TOO SLOW! Throw in the fact that, by going this route, I no longer risk losing what I consider to be my second biggest position of need to Chicago, and the Hill pick becomes a no-brainer.
Oh, and just for the record ... I, for one, welcome our new personal vendetta lord.
Below are the complete results from our community mock draft.
Catch up with all of the mock draft selections in our 2012 CSC Community Mock Draft Section.
|Pick||Team||Selection||Team Representative||Approval Rating|
|1||Indianapolis Colts||QB Andrew Luck - Stanford||Legatron Morstead||77%|
|2||Washington Redskins||QB Robert Griffin III - Baylor||VAsaintsfan||78%|
|3||Minnesota Vikings||OT Matt Kalil - USC||Hans Petersen||69%|
|4||Cleveland Browns||RB Trent Richardson - Alabama||Fan since the Aints||81%|
|5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||CB Morris Claiborne - LSU||Alex Swift||50%|
|6||St. Louis Rams||WR Justin Blackmon - Oklahoma St.||GRIZZ||73%|
|7||Jacksonville Jaguars||WR Michael Floyd - Notre Dame||AcquiredPanic||51%|
|8||Miami Dolphins||WR Kendall Wright - Baylor||were gonna need a bigger boat||16%|
|9||Carolina Panthers||DT Michael Brockers - LSU||DatFan||43%|
|10||Buffalo Bills||OT Riley Reiff - Iowa||theprogrammerman||51%|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs||G David DeCastro - Stanford||Jimbo03||69%|
|12||Seattle Seahawks||DE Melvin Ingram - South Carolina||BASAINT||57%|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||DT Dontari Poe - Memphis||jeremysherwin||44%|
|14||Dallas Cowboys||S Mark Barron - Alabama||Saint for Life||59%|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles||DE Quinton Coples - North Carolina||caominh|
|16||NY Jets||LB Courtney Upshaw - Alabama||GRIZZ|
|17||Cincinnati Bengals||WR Stephen Hill - Georgia Tech||coldpizza|