In what will be forever remembered as the Carson-Palmer heist, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown shipped his semi-retired quarterback to Oakland for a first round draft pick in 2012 and a second rounder in 2013.
The decision for Brown was simpler to make than figuring out which shoe to put on either foot in the morning, what with the progress of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, the team’s early season success, not to mention the fact that Palmer refused to ever don a Bengals jersey again.
Alas, we’ve arrived to pick number 17, the first of the selections that formerly belonged to Oakland that Cincinnati will make, and a sizeable opportunity to further enhance an already loaded young talent core.
If the immediate returns from the 2012 draft are anywhere near that the Bengals yielded from the 2011 class, this team won’t just be improved, they’ll challenge for the AFC North crown.
So let’s take a look at what it will take for the Bengals to solidify that possibility.
Who they will draft: Cordy Glenn, guard, Georgia. The Bengals replaced running back Cedric Benson with former Patriots runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an insanely reliable but entirely non-explosive backfield threat. His longest carry in 2011 was just 18 yards, which is indicative of his lack of breakthrough speed and homerun punch. Now, he is a terrific chains mover and an accomplished short-yardage back. Putting Glenn, a mountain of a man, in front of Green-Ellis could help open up plunging holes for him to march through.
Who they should draft: Glenn. Glenn’s power is downright scary, and he plays with a toughness and temperament that should translate to a sustained pro career. The Bengals need help and youth on the interior of their line, and Glenn would provide just that. To boot, Glenn has the versatility to flex out to tackle. Never underestimate the importance of that when it comes to building a game day roster.
Who they could draft: Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Alabama. The Bengals suffered a major blow when Jonathan Joseph left for Houston prior to the 2011 season, and then lost fellow starter Leon Hall to a late season Achilles’ tear. Credit defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for continuing to lead his unit to impressive results, and expect much of the same in 2012. Adding Kirkpatrick to the mix would help shore up the secondary, as he appears primed to start from an early juncture in his NFL career.
Who they shouldn’t draft: Janoris Jenkins, cornerback, North Florida. It’s almost too cliché to state the possibility of the Bengals picking Jenkins, given his checkered past and the franchise’s track record of taking on poor character players, but it would be a mistake for the Bengals to take a chance on the kid with major talent matched by major risk. Cincinnati underwent a culture change in 2011 by winning on the field. There’s no sense in taking the risk of deflating that progress by acquiring yet another troubled player who could require substantial maintenance and overseeing from the coaching staff. Pass.