The final day of the NFL Scouting Combine saw potential defensive backs on display. The Cincinnati Bengals, who will be in the market for at least one cornerback and safety during the draft, have some big decisions to consider between now and draft day.
What was one of the deepest positions on the team is riddled with question marks this off season thanks to free agency and injury. Both Adam Jones and Kelly Jennings are unrestricted free agents and Leon Hall is recovering from an Achilles' injury. Although reports are good on Hall, it still leaves a secondary with lots of question marks.
There's no doubt that a cornerback who can help the team right away will be available to the Bengals when they pick at 17. Whether or not they want to select one then, use the pick on another need or pass altogether on the position until another round will be dependent on the free agent activity between now and the draft as well as who get picked ahead the Bengals selection.
North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins may be the best talent in the draft. The embattled former Florida Gator ran a 4.46 at the combine today and turned in an impressive athletic performance across the board. If he has gotten beyond the off the field issues that caused his dismissal at Florida, some team is going to get an all-pro caliber, shutdown corner. For the Bengals, those off-field concerns are significant, especially given the team's recent history. Jenkins will have to be very convincing for the Bengals brass to select him.
Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick is another potential all-pro who could slide to the Bengals at 17. He too had an off the field drug arrest this season. Although his past is not nearly as checkered as Jenkins', that will still be concern in Cincinnati. Kirkpatrick ran a 4.51 and recorded a 35-inch vertical today. His size at 6'2" makes him especially attractive with some scouts thinking he could play corner or free safety.
South Carolina's Stephen Gilmore may have worked his way into the first round conversations with his performance today. Gilmore blazed a 4.4 40 yard time and was in the top 10 in bench press, vertical leap and broad jump. Could he follow the same path as former Bengal Johnathan Joseph as another USC corner who impressed the Bengals at the combine enough to be chosen at the end of the first round?
Unless the Bengals land one of the available free agent targets like Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan, look for one of these three to be wearing stripes come August.
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