Bengals can go a lot of directions in the first round. Actually, too many directions if you had to ask me.
Determining where the Bengals are going go in the 1st round is as confusing as can be. There are so many options, whether it’s a linebacker, defensive end, running back, wide receiver, or even another first round corner. Cincinnati has a lot of needs, although some needs are more apparent than others. There is a wide variety of moves the Bengals can make in the first round of the NFL Draft. On offense or defense, there are tons of great options for the Stripes from all positions.
It’s not like the Bengals are so weakened at positions that they can’t go BPA (best player available). Thankfully they are able to. There are a lot of BPA options in the draft that would be great additions to the team. There aren’t any top-tier offensive linemen for the Bengals to go after in the top 10 of the draft or even a kicker worth a top 10 pick. So, a BPA pick is most likely. Although, they may choose one player over another just because one position is more glaring than the other.
Making a Case for Going Offense:
There is a great crop of skill positions to consider in the first round. The running backs and wide receivers in this draft are one of the deepest classes in a while.
The running back class hasn’t been this good in ages, including 3-4 possible players who could be chosen in the 1st round. Running backs that can go in the top 10 are Leonard Fournette or even Christian McCaffrey. There would have been three backs to go top 10 if the off-field concerns with Dalvin Cook hadn’t brought him down to late 1st or beginning of the 2nd.
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Although the wide receiver class doesn’t have a specific premiere receiver, there are some great options. If you want a deep threat, Mike Williams fits that bill… if you want a route runner, Corey Davis. Want a guy with speed and deep threat ability (Also the fastest combine 40 time ever), John Ross fits.
Only one or two skill players are expected to be chosen before the Bengals’ 9th pick in the draft. Those players are Fournette (to Jaguars or Panthers) and Mike Williams/Corey Davis by the Tennessee Titans at No. 5. That leaves some great options for the Bengals to choose from. They can go McCaffrey–who is an all-around back– or even Davis/Ross to be their No. 2 receiver of the future.
Making a Case for Defense:
Some may argue that the Defense was the main reason for the lackluster season the Bengals had in 2016. Although showing some potential at times, the defense was questionable and unlike the top 10 defenses of previous seasons.
Many believe that defense is where the Bengals will go due to the problems that were exposed last season. Thankfully, there’s an immense amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball for the NFL draft. Whether it’s the defensive line, defensive backs or even the linebackers, the draft is stacked with talent.
Many NFL analysts and experts have the Bengals going Reuben Foster, although that looks to change, with his recently failed drug test. Other defensive players like Derek Barnett, Marshon Lattimore, Jamal Adams, Johnathan Allen and others have all been mocked to the Bengals. All of these players are considered one of the best at their respective positions in this upcoming batch of talent.
If the Bengals go on the defensive side, pass rushing should be definitely on their minds. Cincinnati didn’t get close to the production that was expected from them. Of course, players like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are going to dominate and play well. But, what about the other two players? Since Domata Peko has gone, the Bengals have an opening on the D-line.
Andrew Billings is expected to be the new starter next to Geno Atkins unless the Bengals draft some competition. On to the other defensive end, Michael Johnson has regressed since leaving for Tampa Bay and coming back. He hasn’t produced as expected in a long time. Michael Johnson hasn’t gotten more than 5.0 sacks in a season since 2012 when he had his breakout season.