As the draft quickly approaches, Bengals fans are aware of the team’s needs. But, will an exotic toy take the place of their requirements?
With the 2017 NFL Draft breathing down our necks, it’s easy to dream. There’s always some exotic toy to drool over and imagine as part of the fabric of the Bengals franchise. But, the stone cold reality is staring most fans in the face. The free agent period has posed another interesting dilemma. Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler are fading memories. It was tough to see them go. But, now the work has to begin. Are the Bengals interested in toys or integral parts?
When it comes to acquiring free agents, Mike Brown is known for not shelling out huge contracts. In fact, the signing of Kevin Minter was such a shock fans weren’t sure it was real. April is just around the corner and it could have very well been an early prank. But, with the inking of Minter, it signals that Brown and the Bengals are looking at solidifying what they have. Head coach Marvin Lewis has stated that the team isn’t in rebuild mode. Now, it’s about getting things tweaked for the 2017 campaign.
"“It’s not rebuilding,” Lewis stressed, per The Cincinnati Enquirer. “We’ve put the guys in place. We still have probably likely our three or four, five best players in the midpoint of their careers. Obviously, they have played a lot of football but as I told them before I left this is going to become your football team.”"
The draft could be a saving grace for the Bengals if they approach it with their usual scrutiny. Cincinnati’s Big Board is no doubt loaded with players that could be impact additions. But, starting with the 9th pick, they have to be in agreement of the team’s needs versus what fans want to see them do.
The O-Line Is A Must
This isn’t an area that can be neglected any longer. The departures of Big Whit and Zeitler left
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question marks and holes in a unit that was once considered one of the NFL’s best. When the Bengals re-signed Andre Smith, there weren’t many ripples in the free agency pool. Sure, he has knowledge of the system. But, will he be able to perform at a level that proves his worth? He was allowed to walk because of that very issue.
The Bengals are in prime position to pick up some of the best linemen. If Lewis and Co. want to even sniff the postseason, they have to get protection for Andy Dalton. No matter what receiver, running back or offensive weapon they consider drafting, it’s about Dalton. He can’t hit a streaking A.J. Green from beneath a 300-pound defensive tackle.
The Front Seven
No, it’s not a play on The Magnificent Seven. But, the Bengals are currently revamping the defense and it may just be magnificent indeed. Whether fans like it or not, the 2017 Bengals will have a new look. Part of that new face will be the X’s. To reclaim the AFC North crown, Cincinnati will have to make some changes. Sometimes, that means doing the unexpected. Hopefully, that starts on April 27.