NFL Draft 2017: Bengals Need To Think About Trading Up

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The Cincinnati Bengals could have up to 11 picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Surely there’s not a roster spot for so many rookies…or is there?

This year’s draft should be huge for the Cincinnati Bengals. There starting spots to be won by young guys. Also, are a couple of starters who are hitting free agency this year, as well as many position groups that can afford an upgrade.

There are currently 56 players signed for the 2017 Bengals active roster, per spotrac.com. Competition is expected this offseason, but there is not enough room for 11 rookies and a handful of undrafted free agents with the roster at this size. The Bengals need higher quality players, and those come early in the draft.

Free Agency

The Bengals, per usual, will look to lock up their homegrown talent this offseason. In no particular order, the key free agents this year are Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, Rex Burkhead, Domata Peko, and Cedric Peerman. Watch for a handful of these guys to be prioritized by the front office. Margus Hunt needs to be shown the door while the others are looked at to retain.

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Players that are free agents this year include Brandon LaFell, Wallace Gilberry, and Eric Winston. The typical Bengals reaction would be to resign all of the older veterans. This is essentially why the young guys never see the field. That has to end this year.

I’m approaching this offseason as if they will re-sign Kirkpatrick and Whitworth, but let the other guys walk. I don’t expect to see the likes of Zeitler, Burkhead, LaFell and Gilberry back in stripes next year. I think that the market will allow for a signing at guard to come in and compete with Christian Westerman for the starting RG spot. Maybe Cedric Ogbuehi will show enough improvement to allow Whitworth to kick inside and have he and Boling man the two guard positions (looks unlikely given his play in ’16).

Trade Up!

The last three drafts have had a marginal impact on the team. It’s a no-brainer that the best NFL draft prospects are taken early in the draft. So, with all of the ammo given to them this offseason the Bengals would be best served to swap a couple picks to get an impact player and a better roster.

Most recently, the Bengals traded up in the 4th round to select Russell Bodine. What I’m proposing is different. I want to see the Bengals aggressively trade a package of picks for an extra second rounder. For reference, last year the Saints traded a third and fourth round pick to the Patriots for their second-round pick. The Bengals could be well served to package two of their three fourth-round selections with a sixth round or future pick to secure another second round selection.

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Two things are obvious: 1. There has to be a willing trade partner in order for this to happen. A team looking to stockpile picks would be the target as opposed to win-now teams. 2. There has to be a player worthy of a trade up selection. Last year, each round that the Bengals passed on Andrew Billings had me wondering why the team thought he wouldn’t be a good selection. After all, he held mostly high grades! But, those dealing with the selections and in charge of the team’s big board knew what they were doing.

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