Draft Review: Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals showed major improvement last season during the second year of head coach Marvin Lewis. The Bengals offense leans on playmakers like Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson, and TJ Houshmanzadeh and is run by quarterback Carson Palmer. It is the other side of the line which needs help and the franchise entered the 2005 draft looking to upgrade their defensive talent.

When David Pollack was still on the board as the Bengals were announced on the clock, they wasted little time snatching up the former Georgia Bulldog. A standout defensive end in college, Pollack will initially be tried as an outside linebacker for the Bengals. The team will also certainly use his pass rushing talents in third down situations. Pollack's college teammate at Georgia, Odell Thurman, was the teams next selection.  Thurman offers the Bengals a future star at linebacker. A tad undersized for the middle, Thurman makes up for his slight stature with intense play and a hitting hard style. Once he familiarizes himself with the teams system he could be difficult to keep off the field as Thurman is a three down defender. The Bengals surprisingly chose to address the wide receiver position at the end of the first day and added West Virginia standout Chris Henry. Henry, along with sixth round pick Tab Perry of UCLA, gives the team a pair of developmental prospects that have all of the physical tools to succeed, though there is some downside as each carries baggage. Henry is historically a selfish player that was a problem child in the Mountaineer program while Perry has yet to take advantage of his skills consistently. Adam Kieft and Eric Ghiaciuc add depth to the team's offensive line. Both linemen played together at Central Michigan and nicely fit in as reserve/back-up blockers. The teams final choice, Jonathan Fanene of Utah, is a pass rushing defensive end that must learn to anchor against the run.

The team signed an unspectacular group of undrafted free agent except for one.  Center Ben Wilkerson was a highly rated prospect coming into the '04 season before a broken leg cut short his campaignn.  He is a player with a terrific upside and someone who could end up starting on the pivot once he regains prior form and improves his body strength.

The Bengals potentially added two very good young linebackers in this draft, assuming Pollack pans out at that position. Along with the depth they added at receiver and along the offensive line the team continues to improve though it is a bit surprising they added no big-bodied run stuffers to help clog the middle of the field.

Rd   Pick Player Pos School
1   17 (17)   David Pollack    DE   Georgia  
2   16 (48)   Odell Thurman    MLB   Georgia  
3   19 (83)   Chris Henry    WR   West Virginia  
4   18 (119)   Eric Ghiaciuc    C   Central Michigan  
5   17 (153)   Adam Kieft    OT   Central Michigan  
6   16 (190)   Tab Perry   WR   UCLA  
7   19 (233)   Jonathan Fanene   DE   Utah  

UDFA Signings: WR Sale Key, Steve Vierra, DB Herana-Daze Jones, C Ben Wilkerson, FB Rich Demers, S Patrick Body, TE Lyonel Anderson, LB Cedric Sullivan, FB Jeremy Thomas, S James Young


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