With apologies to Joe Reedy and Mo Egger, who lately have insisted that Cincinnati Bengals fans should eschew any 2012 draft talk because the team is doing so well, I say, "poppycock!" The draft is a huge part of the future of this franchise, and with the number of picks they've acquired, this year's draft will be especially important. Besides, football is fun. The Bengals aren't playing Saturday, so Bengals 101 is more than happy to give you a guide for who to watch for that might be on Cincinnati's radar come April.
This week, we'll focus on running backs. With Cedric Benson's contract up after this year, the Bengals just might be in the market for a running back in the draft. This week, Bengals fans can not only get a good look at some potential prospects, but also see some of the good local squads playing at the same time.
Daniel "Boom" Herron will be one to watch as the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Indiana Hoosiers at noon on the Big 10 Network. Herron sat out the first five games of the season because of "Tattoo-gate" in Columbus, but since returning has been a beast in the backfield. In his two games back against Illinois and Wisconsin, he's run for 274 yards and a touchdown, averaging almost five yards per carry. Last season he rushed for over 1000 yards, 5.3 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns. Herron has the power to run between the tackles and the burst on the edge to get past the second level and take it the distance. Watch this one early though as the Buckeyes might get out to a big lead on the struggling Hoosiers. If so, you can look at 2014 candidate Carlos Hyde.
The hometown Cincinnati Bearcats travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in a crucial Big East showdown at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. Bengals fans will want to watch Isaiah Pead, the Bearcats diminutive speedster who is climbing up draft boards everywhere. Pead has rushed for over 700 yards already, averaging over six yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns. Pead is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He's caught 63 passes during his time in Clifton for over 500 yards. The knock on Pead is his size, but he has definite breakaway ability and could be utilized in the mold of a Darren Sproles.
Of course the big game Saturday is LSU at Alabama on CBS at 8:00. Bengals 101 has directed you to Trent Richardson before. Tonight's test will be against an LSU defense that might be better than some of the NFL units Richardson will see in the preseason next year. If Richardson can continue his dominance in this game, he might be bringing home a stiff-armed statue at the end of the season.
If you just can't get enough football, Oregon visits Washington in a game that will air on FSN beginning at 10:30. Oregon's LaMichael James is back from a dislocated elbow. Oregon is getting quite the reputation for turning out quality NFL backs with LaGarrette Blount's performance in Tampa. James has already rushed for 905 yards in only six games including two 200 yard efforts. He too is dangerous as a receiver. James struggled in an early appearance against LSU where he was held to 54 yards, but also caught six balls for 61 yards in that game.
So yes, Bengals fans, you can talk draft prospects and still be a good Bengals fan. Just do it here at Bengals 101 so Joe and Mo won't be upset.
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