Bengals to target WR in first round?

The Bengals’ front office and the new head coach – whoever he might be after Marvin Lewis is fired after this season – are going to have an interesting decision to make at the wide receiver position. And honestly, I think it’s a rather easy one.

Do they cut-bait with Chad Ochocinco, chose not to re-sign Terrell Owens and start fresh with a first-round wideout?

I believe the answers to be, in no particular order, yes, yes and yes.

The artist formerly known as Johnson has been a good circus act in Cincinnati for many years. He will go down as a Bengals’ Hall of Famer (although not an NFL HOFer as he hopes). But it’s time to take his routine to another city. I’m not sure what his trade value would be like this offseason, but the Bengals should look to get whatever draft pick they can for him and move on. If it’s a fifth-rounder, great. You aren’t going to get much better than that for an aging Chad (will be 33 in January).

And T.O. has actually had a great season and is still in impeccable shape for his age (will turn 37 in a week). But there is no way a new coaching staff is going to want to have him on the team. It’s not going to happen.

So, with Jordan Shipley in the fold – who will be a good No. 2 or No. 3 WR for years – and the tight end position finally set with Jermaine Gresham (the Bengals’ first good TE since Rodney Holman), it’s time for the Bengals to grab a game-breaking wide receiver in the first round of the 2011 draft.

And I think that player is A.J. Green from Georgia.

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound junior was suspended for the first four games of this season by the NCAA for selling his ’09 Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000. I’m not sure if that is an egregious-enough mistake for the Bengals to take him (they prefer huge red flags like the ones that were flying everywhere around Andre “The Bust” Smith when they foolishly decided to draft him two years ago) but they should definitely take a very close look at drafting Green.

In three years at Georgia, playing in the toughest conference in the nation (SEC), he’s piled up 158 receptions, 2,542 yards and 23 touchdowns. There is no question he will leave early after this season and the Bengals would be wise to snatch him up if he’s on the board when they draft. And we know Cincinnati will be drafting early; the only question is how high. Andrew Luck is the definite top-overall pick – so he will likely go to the Carolina Panthers. But hopefully for the Bengals’ sake Green is still available when they pick and they actually do something intelligent for a change and take him.