The Cincinnati Bengals have one pressing need that is easy to identify, but it may be difficult to discover this off-season. That need is a RB.
But let me divulge more in-depth in an effort to explain thoroughly.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has already stated that it will be a high priority this off-season to find a "game changer" at running back.
But what type of a runner is the real question.
The Cincinnati Bengals need a running back who has excellent speed and runs upright instead of low to the ground. In addition to these qualities, they will also be looking for a back who can offer himself as a solid pass-protector.
But the most important aspect has to be the ability to run between the tackles, which is paramount in the AFC North.
Cincinnati, allow me present you with my argument: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin.
The Bengals have three other backs ahead of Montee Ball. Eddie Lacy - Alabama, Giovanni Bernard - North Carolina and Marcus Lattimore - South Carolina.
Lattimore is currently ranked LOWER than Ball, but some suggest he is viewed in higher regard than Ball.
None of these players fit the need despite being quality backs and I'm going to show you why.
1. Eddie Lacy is a speedy back who was the product of a terrific 'Bama' offensive line, so it's difficult to say if he's the real deal.
But Lacy is more of an east-west runner anyway, rather than a north-south back.
Runners in the AFC North must be able to run between the tackles to be successful which isn't really Lacy's forte. Do I think he will be successful in the NFL? Yes, but I do not believe he and the Cincinnati Bengals are the right fit.
2. Giovanni Bernard is a little more similar to what the Cincinnati Bengals are in the market for.
Bernard has the raw power to move the scrum and the experience up the gut to suggest a notice, but is he the right fit?
Many of the scouts are agreeing that his physical development is already capped, and his durability and breakaway speed are a little suspect. While he brings some nice talents to the table, he offers very little room to grow. Bernard is a solid prospect, just not right for Cincinnati.
3. Marcus Lattimore is very similar to Giovanni Bernard, just a little faster.
But JUST like Bernard, there is little wiggle room. Another similar aspect of these two particular backs is their penchant for injuries.
Both backs are considered injury prone, and after a series of injury-prone rookie RBs ( Ki-Jana Carter, Chris Perry and Kenny Irons) the Cincinnati Bengals are sure to look away from such a liability.
Montee Ball, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of the above mentioned.
Ball is a true-type inside runner. He attacks the line of scrimmage with excellent success, and runs very well between the lanes.
Montee Ball is also known as a great change-up runner, ala Curtis Martin. He can use his speed to separate himself at the next level, and is very shifty with his open-field cuts.
Ball also possesses above average hands, and is a sound pass-protector—the total package the Cincinnati Bengals are looking for.
I admit that many feel the Bengals can wait until the second round for a RB, but considering the emphasis on finding a back of this nature, I expect Cincinnati to pull the trigger earlier than expected on a player that is simply the right fit.
Have a different opinion regarding Cincinnati's biggest need? Let me know in the comment section, and be sure to follow the rest of my coverage below. Next up will be the Cleveland Browns.
|NFC North 2013 Team Needs:||GREEN BAY PACKERS
|NFC East 2013 Team Needs:||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
NEW YORK GIANTS
|NFC South 2013 Team Needs:||ATLANTA FALCONS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
|NFC West 2013 Team Needs:||ST. LOUIS RAMS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
|AFC North 2013 Team Needs:||BALTIMORE RAVENS
|AFC East 2013 Team Needs:||NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
NEW YORK JETS
|AFC South 2013 Team Needs:||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
|AFC West 2013 Team Needs:||DENVER BRONCOS
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS