NFL Draft 2012: What Will The Cincinnati Bengals Do With Pick 21?


When the Cincinnati Bengals make the 21st overall selection in the upcoming 2012 NFL draft, they’ll be the first team—at least as it currently stands—to make its second selection, as they also are slated to choose 17th with one of the picks acquired in the Carson Palmer trade.

That means they will presumably have filled one of their needs (I see offensive lineman Cordy Glenn as a nice fit at 17) and will have the chance to pick up another piece of the puzzle for this young roster.

It also means that Cincinnati has a chance to pick up a luxury-type selection, as the team is working with an extra draft pick this year that came at the price of a player who wasn’t in their immediate or long-term plans.

We’re also at the point in the draft where the board grows in unpredictability, meaning there’s no shortage of names that fit in the range in which Cincinnati is picking.

But only one will become the guy for the Bengals, so let’s take a deeper look inside pick number 21.

Who they will draft: Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Baylor. The Bengals knocked the number four pick out of the park last year by drafting AJ Green to be their vertical, perimeter receiving threat. He was as sensational of a rookie receiver as there was in all of football, and the guy reeks of continued development and superstar potential. What will make he and quarterback Andy Dalton even more dangerous—that’s a scary thought—is surrounding them with additional offensive ammo. Wright’s stock was hurt a bit by running an underwhelming forty at the Combine, but he’s a sharp slot option who could attract the attention of the middle of opposing defenses. He’d also be a tremendous second outlet for Dalton, who sizzled as a rookie in 2011.

Who they should draft: Coby Fleener, tight end, Stanford. I went back and forth on this one, as I think Wright makes an abundance of sense for the Bengals, but finding receivers outside of the first round is accomplishable in the draft as well. Not to mention, the NFL is skewing towards a two tight end-offense league, and Fleener would be a perfect fit to plug next to Jermaine Gresham to open Cincy’s passing attack wide open. He runs like a gazelle, has hands of glue, and the two could absolutely devastate defenses between the numbers. I know it’s high for a tight end, especially one like Fleener who needs some polish, but given the landscape of the current NFL, this one makes sense to me.

Who they could draft: Harrison Smith, safety, Notre Dame. Like Fleener, picking Smith at this point of the draft would be considered by many to be a reach. But also like Fleener, he’d help improve the Bengals in an area in which they need it, the secondary, after the release of Chris Crocker earlier this offseason. An underrated athlete, Smith is the second-rated safety on most draft boards, and the kind of guy who could sneak into the first round based on how the board ahead of him plays out. For Cincinnati, he’d likely start opposite Reggie Nelson, who the Bengals did well to bring back on a new four-year deal.

Who they shouldn’t draft: Janoris Jenkins, cornerback, North Alabama. The same player I highlighted for Cincinnati not to pick at 17, Jenkins gets the nod again because the reasoning bears repeating as it relates to the Bengals. What the Bengals were able to do in 2011 was remarkable in many ways, and part of that surge to success was the type of players that the team loaded up on. Jenkins is an undeniable character concern, and the kind of guy who would appear to need monitoring when he begins his NFL career. My suggestion for the Bengals: stay away; there are only a handful of NFL environments that I believe Jenkins currently fits into. Cincinnati isn’t one of them.

To stay up to date on the latest from NFL Spin Zone, become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.