After a relatively loud free agency (at least for the Bengals), it’s time to turn to the draft. The Bengals will be looking to go back to the playoffs after having missed this past season. But, how far away are they?
I was pleasantly surprised at our activity in free agency. Zeitler wasn’t coming back, and the team prepared for the departure of Whitworth when they drafted in 2015.
Bringing back Dre Kirkpatrick was needed, with Adam Jones facing possible suspension and the rest of the corners being largely unproven. Kevin Minter was a great signing, and on a one year deal, we know we’re going to get his best shot.
Other moves this offseason included bringing back Brandon LaFell and Andre Smith. These two moves are great for the Bengals and offer depth and continuity. If Smith can kick inside and beat out Christian Westerman and Trey Hopkins for the RG position, that’s just icing on the cake.
It may be optimistic, but I will argue that the Bengals are only a couple of pieces away from a playoff win.
A lot of people are clamoring for an offensive line But, believe it or not, that is not a pressing need. For now, Marvin Lewis is going to have to live with his selections of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher at the tackle spot.
Positions that don’t need early addressing: QB, LB, CB, OL. On the other hand; WR, TE, RB, DL, are the four groups I think the team should target in the early rounds. On top of that, I hope they grab a kicker at some point this draft. Please.
On to the needs, the number one being speed. One area that both offense and defense needs more of is speed. I think that the 1st or 2nd round pick needs to be a DE who can get after the pass rusher. Michael Johnson needs a guy who can come in and take a lot of his snaps. In my previous two mocks, I have them taking Malik McDowell in round two.
On offense, the team needs burners at the receiver position and in the backfield. That’s why I think the Bengals should spend two or three of their first four picks on playmakers. I go back and forth on wanting Corey Davis and OJ Howard in round one.
Assuming then that round 2 goes to a defensive end, rounds three and four should also focus on offense. Perhaps a running back and a WR/TE?
Rounds 4-7 can be focused on depth and competition. In these rounds, I would expect the team to target offensive linemen and defensive depth. They’ve recently had a private workout with USC’s OG Damien Mama, per Jason Marcum.
The Bengals could even grab a quarterback, assuming they find the right trade for A.J. McCarron. Rebecca Toback of Cincy Jungle recently wrote that the team had a private workout with Miami QB, Brad Kaaya. Kaaya is a developmental QB that could be available as late as round 5.
With all of the negative vibes around the team, I hope this shows that things are not as bad as they seem. Who Dey!!