A look at the Bengals heading into the 2011 NFL Draft; Cincinnati has the 4th pick in the first round.


Record – 4-12, tied for the worst record in the AFC with Buffalo and Denver.

Finish – fourth in the AFC North, eight games behind division leaders Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and one game behind third place Cleveland.

Playoffs – the Bengals were there in 2009, after going 10-6 and winning the AFC North. They ended up losing in the first round to the Jets. Over the last 11 years, Cincinnati has had two winning record and a pair of trips to the playoffs.

All the planets lined up just right for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals two years ago. After three bad seasons, the Bengals went 10-6 and won the AFC North title. Last year was a major step backwards as Cincinnati went 4-12 with essentially the same team that won six games the season. The only big addition was WR Terrell Owens, who came in and teamed with Chad Ochocinco to create the most bizarre receiving tandem in the league.

As the Bengals were getting ready for the 2011 NFL Draft there appeared to be a good chance that Owens, Ochocinco and the guy throwing the ball to them, QB Carson Palmer will all be somewhere else when the 2011 season begins. The offense may need to be completely revamped.

But there are needs on defense as well, setting up a very important selection meeting for Lewis, who just signed a contract extension.


Offense – averaged 330.6 yards per game (No. 20 in the league) and scored 34 offensive touchdowns. RB Cedric Benson was the only running threat for the Bengals offense, as he ran for 1,111 yards and 7 TDs. No other back had more than 299 yards. Owens was the team’s leading receiver catching 72 passes for 983 yards and 9 TD catches. Ochocinco (67-831-4) and rookie Jordan Shipley (52-600-3) were the other receiving threats. Rookie TE Jermaine Gresham was a factor once he got his feet under him (52-471-4). Palmer had 26 TDs against 20 INTS, throwing for 3,970 yards and an 82.4 passer rating.

Defense – Cincinnati’s defense struggled at times last year, but compared to the Bengals offense, the D has been more consistent, giving up an average of 332 yards per game (ranking No. 15 in yards allowed). Opponents scored 36 offensive touchdowns. They had 16 interceptions, led by CB Leon Hall’s four picks. DE Carlos Dunlap was the team’s leading sacker, putting up 9.5 passer takedowns out of the team’s 27 sacks.

Special teams – The kicker position was in turmoil all season for the Bengals, who as a team missed seven FGs. How it shakes out for 2011 depends on how well veteran Mike Nugent comes back. Punter Kevin Huber was solid with a 42.1-yard gross average and the team had a 38.2-yard average. He had one punt blocked. As happens with most teams that are struggling to win, they got no help from their return game. WR Quan Cosby handled punt returns and averaged 7.5 yards a return. RB Bernard Scott caught the kickoffs, and averaged 22.4 yards. The Bengals gave up a pair of kickoff return TDs.


Owner/President/GM – Mike Brown is the man in charge of the organization and is the hammer on all decisions, big and small. Most of Cincinnati thinks he’s the cheapest man in the NFL, and there’s no question that the Bengals operate at a financial level that is below the rest of the league. There are a handful of people holding small slivers of ownership in the team, including Kansas City resident, Dr. Edison Miyawaki. But there’s not a mention of them in the team’s media guide.

Senior VP-Player Personnel – Pete Brown is the second son of franchise founder Paul Brown and heads up the scouting department.

Director of Player Personnel – Duke Tobin is the 39-year old son of former NFL GM Bill Tobin. Duke Tobin has worked with the Bengals for close to 10 years.

Head coach – Marvin Lewis has tried hard in recent years to convince the Browns that they needed to pump more resources (money and people) into the personnel department. Instead, the Bengals rely on their coaching staff to supplement the five people they list in their player personnel department.

Who has the draft room juice? That’s Mike Brown and only Mike Brown. He won’t force too many questionable characters on Marvin Lewis, but he will say yes when Lewis says no.


1. Quarterback – Carson Palmer wants out and whether he’s bluffing or will stay out of the league if he’s not traded away from Cincinnati will be hard to tell with the league lockout. Mike Brown says he won’t trade Palmer and that may be true, but it doesn’t mean he will sit back and pass on a good quarterback. Baring late trades, they should get a chance to consider Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert. If they decide against Gabbert and decide to go for their quarterback in the second round, where they have the 35th pick in the draft, they’ll consider Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Jake Locker or Colin Kaepernick in the second round.

2. Wide receiver – Owens will not be back with the Bengals and Ochocinco is on his last legs, with one year left on his Cincinnati contract. Whether a new quarterback or the unhappy and returning Palmer, the Bengals pass offense needs help. Adding TE Jermaine Gresham last year was a big help. Now, they have to get the home run hitter who can spread the field. Lewis and his coaching staff would prefer

The Bengals could look to A.J. Green or Julio Jones in the first round if Gabbert and Newton are off the board. Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, Randall Cobb and Jon Baldwin are on the radar as second-round options. The coaches prefer a tall, fast, physical receiver to complement tight end Jermaine Gresham.

3. Defensive tackle. The Bengals pass rush got a nice injection of youth and speed when DE Carlos Dunlap had 9.5 of the team’s 27 QB sacks. Now, they must get somebody on the inside at DT who can pull some of the blocking attention away from Dunlap. They also allowed 4.4 yards per carry on running plays and an inside force would do wonders to pump up the rush defense.


There’s no question that down through the years the Cincinnati personnel department and the decisions made by Mike Brown in the NFL Draft rank among the worst blunders in the league’s recent history. Examples? How about RB Chris Perry, QB Akili Smith, RB Ki-Jana Carter and on and on.

Over the last five years, they’ve had at least one draft that looks like it might work out – last year’s group where they got major contributions from all but one of the team’s first six selections. They hit not only with first-round TE Gresham and second-round DE Dunlap, but also with a pair of fourth-rounders in DT Geno Atkins and LB Roddrick Muckelroy.

If the 2010 class ends up looking very good, it will be because the roster had holes from poor drafting in previous seasons.

2006: They hit on three of their first picks with starters at CB (Johnathan Joseph), DT (Domata Peko) and LT (Andrew Whitworth.) The rest of the class was a bust, including a pair of third-round picks with off-field problems, DE Frostee Rucker and LB Ahmad Brooks.

2007: A disastrous effort by the Bengals. They drafted seven players and only one remains and he’s a backup.

2008: The first five choices are still with the team, but the bottom five on their picks is already gone. They found a couple of receivers in Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell who should be ready to make bigger contributions in the passing game.

2009: It’s hard to believe the Bengals could miss so badly on OT Andre Smith out of Alabama given the warning signs before the draft about his work ethic and weight. LB Rey Maualuga has had all sorts of all field problems. Third round DE Michael Johnson and TE Chase Coffman have produced little.

2010: So far so good. First, second, third and a pair of fourth round picks contributed in their first taste of the NFL. There’s hope for the future.


So many needs for this team, but they and we must deal first with the quarterback situation. If the first three picks off the board are Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus and Von Miller then the Bengals will have the chance to consider Gabbert. If he’s gone, it’s hard to believe they will reach for into the second level of QBs at the No. 4 pick. That brings a host of other possibilities into the discussion – CB Patrick Peterson, WR A.J. Green, WR Julio Jones and DT Nick Fairley. The pick should be Green – he’s a very talented receiver and fairly level-headed young man.

Comments are closed.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News