Good morning, my friends. This promises to be a busy Friday on the Cincinnati Bengals blog. So let's get it started:
1. Tracking Bengals draft trends: You know all too well that this time next Friday you will be reading and watching more first-round draft breakdowns than you can comprehend. You will know who the Bengals picked at No. 24, whether Teddy Bridgewater slid as far as some analysts predicted, and whether the Falcons or another team worked a trade with Houston for the No. 1 overall pick. You will also know whether the Bengals picked a player at a position that doesn't line up with their recent first-round trends.
2. No DEs, one RB, one QB: I'm talking about the Bengals' draft-day trends since Marvin Lewis was named head coach in 2003. It is because he has helped head the team's draft and scouting efforts that we can track organizational draft trends. In the first round, the Bengals have focused on taking offensive linemen, tight ends, receivers and defensive backs. Only once have they drafted in the first round at the big-money position, quarterback. Carson Palmer's selection at No. 1 overall in 2003 happened because Lewis needed the position stabilized for his new regime. The next closest the Bengals came to taking a first-round quarterback was in 2011 when Andy Dalton was taken 35th overall. Once again, the Bengals were ready to make a change at the position. They aren't ready to do so this year, even if a good enough quarterback (like Bridgewater) falls to them at No. 24. Under Lewis, the Bengals have generally avoided quarterbacks, running backs and defensive ends in the first round. Only once did the Bengals go for a running back in the first round, and it ended horribly. Chris Perry (2004 draft) started just nine games in his four-year career.
3. More on defensive ends: In 11 drafts under Lewis, the Bengals haven't pulled the trigger on a defensive end in the first round. Lately, they have dipped into the second round to make those choices, taking Margus Hunt at 53rd overall last year and Carlos Dunlap at 54th overall in 2010. Michael Johnson (2009) and Frostee Rucker (2006) were third-round selections. So it seems doubtful they would select a defensive end with their first-round selection next week. But they do need an end for depth and to help replace Johnson, who signed with Tampa Bay in March. Several mock drafts have the Bengals taking defensive ends Kony Ealy (Missouri) or Scott Crichton (Oregon State) at No. 24. History says it's much more likely the Bengals address a need in the secondary. Since 2003, the Bengals have used three first-round picks on defensive backs.
4. Vontaze Burfict's motivation: We've discussed it before, but the linebacker is an example of why all the mock drafts and pre-draft chatter are meaningless. The year he entered the draft, Burfict was criticized for his off-field behavior by scouts and draft insiders to the point that he went from having an early round grade to going completely undrafted. It didn't help that he performed poorly at the scouting combine after showing up overweight and slow. He signed with the Bengals in May 2012 just looking for a chance to compete. Injuries at linebacker forced him into action early that season, and he led the team in tackles. Then last season he led the league in tackles, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl, where he delivered an interception. Burfict's plight was documented in this interesting read from CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel on Thursday. So when you wonder why the Bengals didn't draft so-and-so or settled on seven rounds of players who maybe you didn't previously like, just think about Burfict. Do the same when the Bengals and other teams announce their undrafted signings. Maybe there are more Burficts to come.
5. Bengals mailbag: It's Friday, so it's time to submit your questions for our weekly Bengals mailbag. You can do so on Twitter by sending your inquiry to me @ColeyHarvey with the hashtag #BengalsMail. We'll get your questions answered here Saturday morning. So tweet away!