The Bengals had a pretty busy off-season. One of the key moves undoubtedly was re-signing running back Cedric Benson to a two-year, $7 million contract.
A first-round pick in 2005 for the Bears, Benson ran for 747 yards on 214 carries (3.5 ypc) and 2 TD's in 12 games for the Bengals. He took over as the starter mid-season for Chris Perry and turned in three 100-yard games over the team's last eight games in '08.
Re-signing him gave the team a bit of flexbility with how they approached the position elswhere in free agency and in the upcoming draft, but it did not meet that the Bengals wouldn't still need to add some backfield depth.
Benson has some risk associated with him, but at 26 you would hope he could be a key cog in the offense for the length of the contact.
The team did find a potetnial gem on waivers this week, when they picked up Gary Russell after he was cut from the Steelers. He ran for five touchdowns in 15 games with the World Champions last year at 5-11, 215 pounds in more than capable of spelling Benson.
Perry and Kenny Watson have shown what they can do and whether the Bengals are ready to admit it or not, neither player is the answer. James Johnson is also a dark horse after a hot finish last year, but remains to be a bit of a stretch. If the Bengals are serious about improving they will write off this cast of characters and add a playmaker in the draft.
The team needs to have a more reliable back and a better pass-catching threat out of the backfield for Bob Bratkowski's offense to work efficiently and that player is not on their roster. That translates into the team adding someone else to the mix in the draft, but not out of necessity.
There are a handufl of nice prospects that could be had in Rounds 2-4, including the following players.
LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh, 5-11, 210)
McCoy is a big play waiting to happen. He has tremendous feet and is very shifty. He has excellent quickness and can change direction with ease, often leaving defenders standing still. He combines that quickness and elusiveness with excellent long range speed, and once he hits a seam, he is off to the races.
Donald Brown (Connecticut, 5-10, 210)
Brown was the nation’s leading rusher with 2,083 rushing yards and 18 TDs. He even ended the season with an impressive 261 yards rushing against Buffalo in the International Bowl. He possesses great instincts, patience, and shows great techniques in multiple areas. He is very dangerous in the open and can make big plays.
Rashad Jennings (Liberty, 6-1,230)
Jennings is an intriguing blend of size and speed. He has a great frame, carrying the necessary bulk and strength to carry the football between the tackles. He isn’t a true power back, as he has the agility to make the first defender miss and the speed to get to the corner and break off big runs. Jennings has also been very involved in the passing game with 48 career receptions.
Andre Brown (NC State, 6-foot, 224)
Brown has good size, and has the ability to carry the ball between the tackles. He shows good initial quickness, and the ability to cutback and make the first defender miss. He is at his best running between the tackles and picking up yardage after contact.
Javon Ringer (Michigan State, 5-9, 205)
Ringer has some similarities to Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville, although he isn’t as gifted across the board. He is short but stocky and has excellent quickness. Some teams are going to be concerned with the workload he had in college and his lack of standout measurables, but Ringer can play.
*Bio info from FootballsFuture.com
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- Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com on team's need for a RB in draft