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Bengals draft prospectus

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

As the NFL draft nears, AFC North teams are narrowing their list of prospects to take with the first-round pick. This week we look at those players and how each would fit with their respective division teams in 2009.

Tuesday we continue our series with potential prospects for the Cincinnati Bengals, who own the No. 6 overall pick:


1. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia


The Bengals would be very happy if Monroe is available with the No. 6. He is widely-considered the second best offensive tackle in the draft and not too far behind potential No. 1 overall candidate Jason Smith of Baylor. Quarterback Carson Palmer is coming off a season-ending elbow injury and needs the protection in the worst way. A healthy blue-chip prospect like Monroe would be a significant upgrade over an oft-injured Levi Jones at this point of his career.

2. Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi

Many criticized the Bengals when they took Jones with the No. 10 pick in 2002, because many felt it was a reach. Cincinnati instead went for need and could find itself in a similar position this year with Mississippi tackle Oher, who is projected to be a top 15-20 pick. But if tackles Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith are both off the board, as many expect, Cincinnati has to consider taking the third-rated tackle in the draft with the No. 6 pick. Oher has the physical tools but is still considered somewhat of a work in progress compared to Monroe and Smith.

3. B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

Every AFC North team has a huge plug in the middle, whether it's Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh, Shaun Rogers in Cleveland, or Haloti Ngata in Baltimore. Raji could be Cincinnati's version. He would be a more natural fit for Cincinnati under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's 4-3 defense. Raji could be placed into his natural position of defensive tackle to combine with Domata Peko and make for a nice up-and-coming duo. There was a report last week of Raji failing a drug test and, if true, that could put him out of the running in Cincinnati.

Next up Wednesday: The Baltimore Ravens