CINCINNATI -- Our friend Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders had this interesting ESPN Insider article Tuesday that kind of got my brain working.
So, in an effort to get you thinking, too, I decided to pose to you, our loyal Cincinnati Bengals readers, one of the questions he was answering.
Is cornerback a hole for the Bengals?
The overall story attempted to address the single biggest holes that remain for each AFC North team. If you take a look at the link, you'll see the Bengals aren't the only ones in the division who Kacsmar believes needs help in the back end of their defense.
Before getting too deep into the conversation about cornerback, it bears mentioning that Kacsmar said he would have considered the coordinator positions to be the holes most worthy of the Bengals' attention if he wasn't focusing on player personnel. In January former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer accepted jobs serving as the head coaches in Washington and Minnesota, respectively. They were replaced by internal hires Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther, who promise to build off the schemes Gruden and Zimmer left them.
The reason Kacsmar believes cornerback is the Bengals' biggest hole with respect to player personnel is because their primary offseason addition there, rookie Darqueze Dennard, doesn't figure to be an immediate fix to what could soon become a problem. The issue? Cincinnati is getting older at the position. Leon Hall has battled injury in recent seasons and at 29 is starting to fight age, too. Adam Jones will be 31 in September. Terence Newman will be 36 that month, too.
Dennard probably won't play much this first season, although he has been gaining valuable experience through the first two weeks of voluntary organized team activities, practicing with the first-team defense. On Tuesday, he ran with the first team as a slot corner, playing the position Hall will have once he returns fully from an Achilles injury that sidelined him last October. Hall expects to be back to full activity sometime next month before training camp starts July 24.
Some would consider Dennard the solution to the Bengals' cornerback age problem. He was, after all, the best player available when the Bengals drafted him, and they used a first-round pick on him. They also knew that like a lot of rookie corners he didn't stand much of a chance to start regularly this season. Still, they believed he had a strong chance to do so next year.
Dennard also was praised in college for being the type of cornerback Kacsmar said the Bengals needed: a true man-to-man defender who kept constant pressure on his opposing, typically single-covered receiver. That style of play made Dennard the head honcho of Michigan State's self-proclaimed "No Fly Zone" defense.
So we turn it to you. Did Dennard's addition do enough to convince you cornerback wasn't a hole for the Bengals? Or do you agree with Kacsmar and believe that since he won't see the field much this year, Dennard didn't really help address Cincinnati's cornerback age issue? Or do you believe there's actually another position that deserves the Bengals' attention for fixing first? Is the offensive line a hole? The defensive line? The linebacker corps? Or is it another position altogether?
Vote in our poll and share your thoughts. If you think the issue is another position we didn't mention, feel free to type it into the comments below.