With potential picks hitting the turnstiles of Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals are doing their homework. Have they tipped their hand for draft day?
It’s almost time for the cheers and jeers to fill living rooms and taverns. When the 2017 NFL Draft takes place in less than three weeks, every fan will have their favorites. Truthfully, what the fans want and what the Bengals need is murky territory. But, there’s no need to stick your head in the sand by that river in Egypt. With the potential picks that have been streaming through the gates of Paul Brown Stadium, it’s easy to get confused. Yet, it seems that the Bengals could be tipping their hand.
If the Bengals are trying to keep fans in the dark about their draft prospects and deficiencies, it’s not working. Is it fair to say that the Bengals have weaknesses? Yes, without a doubt. Finishing the 2016 season at 6-9-1 is a fair indicator that something needs to be done. It was Cincinnati’s first journey into the land of single digit victories since 2011. That year, they finished 9-7 but still managed to start their five-year streak of playoff appearances.
Things have a way of changing over time. There’s a chance the Bengals can ease their way back into the postseason. But, the homework has to be done. Looking at the visitors to grace the halls of PBS, the signs are there. But, it’s not unlike the Bengals to throw a low slider at the last moment.
What’s The Deal?
Mock drafts can be interesting. If that’s your cup of tea, the landscape of those predictions will be changing like the tides. Each week will be a new foray into territory that will cause both delight and hair loss for fans of the Stripes.
It’s unusual for Cincinnati to even sniff running backs higher than the second round. Past first rounders include Ki-Jana Carter, Archie Griffin, Chris Perry and Charles Alexander. With the exception of 1976 (Griffin), the Bengals were coming off losing seasons and looking to rebuild or stabilize. This could be the year Cincy decides to break the pattern. After posting six wins, a change in the backfield may be upcoming. Tipping their hand with the top-tier backs?
The ground game is begging to be addressed. Rex Burkhead chased the money and decided to become a member of the Dark Side. His free agency loss to the Patriots has created the need for a Help Wanted sign from Ken Zampese. Earlier in the offseason, Zampese politely discussed the state of the Bengals’ running game, via Bengals.com.
"“More consistency with the backs’ tracks and courses. Less mental errors in the blocking unit. And when the ball gets in the secondary, staying on blocks on the outside. Running through arm tackles to get those extra yards play after play that you need to get the average up. We’re identical to where we were last year, which is not what we were expecting, then or now. That’s our challenge. To find out what the new cheese is. To do what we already do better.”"
The Heart Of The Matter
Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard toughed it out and ended the year with injuries. But, even before the disclosure of Hill’s problems, the ground game was stagnant. Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook have probably been stuffed with Skyline Chili and LaRosa’s pizza. Cincy has done their homework on the cream of the draft. Simply put, there could be a surprise in the first round.