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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cincinnati Bengals: 2006 NFL Draft Picks in Review

The Cincinnati Bengals put together what I consider to be a decent, albeit unspectacular draft. Below is my analysis of each player selected by the Bengals in the 2006 NFL Draft.

1st Round, #24 (24) - Johnathan Joseph - CB - South Carolina
This was an ideal pick-up for the Bengals at the #24 spot. Johnathan Joesph has spectacular speed, quickness, and possess natural playmaking skills. He doesn't have a bunch of experience, only playing one full season at the DI-A level, but that's OK for the Bengals in this spot. Barring injuries, Joseph is not going to be counted on as anything more than a nickle or dime-back for Cincinnati this season, and the Bengals coaching staff should have plenty of time to develop him into a solid cornerback.

2nd Round #23 (55) - Andrew Whitworth - OT - LSU
Andrew Whitworth is another solid pickup with time to develop for Cincinnati. With the much publicized rift between aging OT Willie Anderson and the Bengals over the past couple of weeks, it was no surprise to see the Bengals go with a solid OT in the second round. Whitworth is big and strong, with a great frame. Although, not the best athlete, or the most mobile lineman, he's been described as a mauler, and should provide good depth up front this season, and could step in as a replacement for aging Willie Anderson in time.

3rd Round #27 (91) - Frostee Rucker - DE - USC
I think Rucker might have been a reach at this spot. Rucker does a lot of things competantly, and has adequate size and speed, but doesn't stand out in any one area. The knock on Rucker is that he isn't dominant in any facet of the game. He lacks the size and power to consistently hold his ground versus the run and isn't fast enough to be a situational pass rusher. It looks like Rucker is destined to be a situational reserve in the NFL. It's also possible that Rucker could shift to linebacker at the next level.

4th Round #26 (123) - Domata Peko - DT - Michigan State
Peko may have been another slight reach, although I'm not as down on him as I was on Rucker in the 3rd Round. Peko is a big, strong prospect with good height, power, and bulk. Peko isn't a great athlete, and takes too long to change directions, but he is a very good tackler for his size. Peko lacks even the most basic pass-rush moves and can only get to the quarterback when he bowls over the offensive line, something he probably won't have much success with in the NFL. Peko's lack of athleticism or ability to rush the QB makes him destined to be a 2-down run-stopper in the NFL. This, coupled with character concerns from a May 2005 arrest probably mean that the Bengals could have waited until slightly later, and still drafted him.

5th Round #25 (157) - A.J. Nicholson - OLB - Florida State
The Bengals next pick, A.J. Nicholson, is a player with even more character concerns. Nicholson was charged with two seperate alcohol-related crimes, before his senior season in 2005. He's also been charged with resisiting arrest, suspended by the team for the 05-06 Orange Bowl, and questioned by police after a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexually assulting her. Not good.

Looking strictly at Nicholson on the field, he looks like a much better prospect. He's a ball-hawkish OLB, who lacks superb speed, but makes up for it with instincts and quickness. Nicholson is bulky with good size for a shorter LB prospect. He's a good tackler who can both blitz and drop into coverage sufficiently. Nicholson might have been a 2nd round pick if it wasn't for his off-field baggage. If Marvin Lewis and the Bengal staff can get this kid to fly right, he could be a steal.

6th Round #24 (193) - Reggie McNeal - QB - Texas A&M
It's not likely that the Bengals drafted McNeal to play QB in the NFL, but he's the type of athlete who definitely will see the field at the next level. McNeal is a spectacular athlete who could be the Bengals answer to former Steelers Kordell "Slash" Stewart, or Antwaan Randel El. It'll be interesting to see how the Bengals use McNeal as he has the superb athleticism, speed, quickness, and change of direction skills to play receiver, or return punts in the NFL.

7th Round #1 (209) - Ethan Kilmer - WR - Penn State and
7th Round #23 (231) - Bennie Brazell - WR - LSU
I don't have a lot of info on Kilmer or Brazell, but the fact that the Bengals are drafting two WRs late shows me that Chris Henry and his off-field troubles could be out the door by the end of training camp, especially if he keeps causing headaches. Wide receiver had been one of Cincinnati's deepest positions before the draft. The Bengals signed WR Antonio Chatman from Green Bay this off-season, and Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh aren't going anywhere. Add to that Tab Perry and Kelley Washington as decent 4th wide receivers and these two draft choices show me that the Bengals aren't about to stand pat with their core of receivers.

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