Much attention will be paid to the two first round picks the Cincinnati Bengals have in this year's draft and the immediate impact they might provide. Championship teams are built through prudent late round drafting, however. Here's a list of players who may be available in rounds 4-7 who are vastly underrated and could become key components of a Bengals Super Bowl contender.
RB LaMichael James-Oregon: James was hardly under the radar as a member of the Oregon Ducks. He played in a BCS title game as a junior and was among the nation's leaders in rushing yards for a nationally ranked team. Yet James' size has turned him off to many teams as the draft approaches. At 5'9" and 185 pounds, NFL scouts question his durability. Moreover, his middling 3.0 yards per carry against LSU's stout defense in Oregon's season opener last season leads some to question whether his numbers are a bit inflated from playing against weaker defenses. People forget though that James accounted for 88 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn in the 2011 BCS championship game.
One thing is certain: James is a "home run" type of back that the Bengals lack. When the ball is in James' hands, he's a threat to take it to the house with his 4.45 speed. With offensive coordinator Jay Gruden favoring the "stable of backs" approach with his offense, James would be a fantastic addition to this offense. His ability to turn the corner and make things happen on the perimeter of the defense would be a great compliment to the punishing style of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
LB Sean Spence-Miami: Spence is another player downgraded because of his size. At 5'11" he's not a prototypical NFL linebacker. His speed and athleticism aren't to be doubted though. He is a tackling machine with a tremendous ability to find the ball carrier. That kind of instinct can't be measured. His speed also helps in pass coverage, especially on opposing tight ends, something Bengals linebackers have struggled with.
LB Danny Trevathan-Kentucky: Like Spence, Trevathan is an undersized player who finds the football. He was sixth in the nation with 143 tackles despite the Cats missing out on a post season bowl game. He also picked off four passes and forced five fumbles. Trevathan is the type of player who could start out making an impact on special teams and provide some great depth at linebacker as well.
CB/S Trumaine Johnson-Montana: Johnson is a combo corner/safety prospect which makes him a perfect fit for the Bengals' needs. He played corner at Montana, but his lack of exposure against BCS caliber receivers leaves some questioning his ability there. Johnson would be a great young player to put in the hands of defensive backs coach Mark Carrier.
S Winston Guy-Kentucky: Guy was the Kentucky defender who got whatever ball carriers not stopped by Danny Trevathan. He's a play maker who likes to hit in the mold of Reggie Nelson. He's another player the Bengals could get in round six who could make an immediate impact on special teams and work his way into the mix at safety.Tags: Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bengals, Football, NFL
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