Bengals Mailbag questions

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Fans of the Cincinnati Bengals react after the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Fans of the Cincinnati Bengals react after the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick /

The Cincinnati Bengals are making their rounds to pro days this week and there are still plenty of questions regarding the 2018 offseason.

The Cincinnati Bengals coaches have been busy this week attending pro days and setting up private visits with players in the upcoming draft. Mock drafts continue to be the center of discussion and debates on what the Bengals should do at pick 21. There is still plenty of debate on what the Bengals will do with their first-round pick with several holes still needing to be addressed.

Most of the needs are along the offensive line but other spots the Bengals could address are a linebacker, cornerback, safety, and defensive line. Then there are smaller roles like backup running back or tight end in case Tyler Eifert is not back in 2019.

This week we answer questions that you as the readers and fans asked for us to touch base on regarding the draft prospects and the upcoming season.

Do the Bengals have enough talent on the offensive line for Frank Pollack to make a difference?

The Bengals still have plenty of spots along the offensive line to address even after trading for Cordy Glenn. Following Russell Bodine leaving to sign with the Buffalo Bills, only T.J. Johnson has had any experience at center. It’s no secret that they plan to bring in some talent through the draft with their 11 picks. It would be surprising if they spent less than two of their four picks in the first three rounds on offensive line help.

There is plenty of talent that the Bengals could grab at pick 21 for the offensive line. Whether the top names at specific positions will be there in the bottom half of the first round will not be known until draft day but there is a deep class of interior linemen this year. Some of the top names that are possible to be there are Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Ohio State center Billy Price, Iowa center James Daniels, and even Arkansas center/guard Frank Ragnow.

McGlinchey and Ragnow are the two that I would prefer to be picked at 21 if they are there. While Price and Daniels could be solid centers potentially, one of them is likely to be there when the Bengals pick in the second round. Ragnow is, in my opinion, better than both of them and should be getting a lot more attention than he is. He graded as the second-best lineman in this draft class by PFF and when doing his film review he impressed me the most out of the three centers.

McGlinchey is a great pick from a solid Notre Dame offensive line that I would not mind the Bengals grabbing in the first round. Solidifying the other tackle position is a big need for the Bengals and the exterior linemen group is not as deep as the interior this year.

If those two players are not there in the first I think the Bengals should address another area with their first pick and wait till round two to select their first offensive lineman. They also have two third-round picks to select help along the line that new offensive line coach Frank Pollack can work with. With four picks in the first three rounds, they should absolutely spend at least two of those on offensive line help and we should see a big increase in production from this offensive line this season.

-Answered by Travis Steffen

Thoughts on drafting linebacker Rashaan Evans at 21?

Rashaan Evans is absolutely in play for the Bengals at pick 21. Evans, a versatile linebacker out of Alabama, finally got his chance to play starter’s minutes after backing up players like Reggie Ragland and Shaun Dion-Hamilton. Perhaps Evans’ greatest trait is that he doesn’t have one elite trait; he’s an excellent run stopper, works well in space in the passing game, and is an effective edge rusher in blitz packages.

Though Evans’ game is multifaceted, he does come with some flaws. Since he did not see as much time on the field in college as most other NFL linebacker prospects, his instincts lag just a bit behind other prospects’. Also, Evans dealt with nagging injuries during his college career, an obvious concern for talent evaluators.

All weaknesses aside, Evans is a clear first-round talent, and the Bengals could use more linebacker talent. Vontaze Burfict’s off-field troubles are well-documented, as he’s facing yet another suspension. Preston Brown is an excellent MLB but is also only a short-term rental. Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey, and Jordan Evans are nice players, too, but they’re not cornerstones for this defense. Even though Rashaan Evans is not a perfect scheme fit – he fits best as an ILB in a 3-4, while the Bengals run a 4-3 – he would be an upgrade over many of the linebackers on this roster.

At the same time, the Bengals have more pressing needs on this roster than linebacker. The offensive line was a glaring flaw last year, and Cordy Glenn cannot be the only new piece the Bengals add. Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey and Georgia OT/G Isaiah Wynn are both top talents that could fall into the Bengals’ lap at 21. Also, the defensive line needs reinforcements, especially on the interior. Michigan DT Maurice Hurst may fall to 21 given his health scare, but he’s a top ten talent who would fit nicely beside Geno Atkins. Rashaan Evans makes a lot of sense with this pick, but there are certainly a few players I believe the Bengals will target before turning to Evans.

-Answered by Jack Lane

Are the Bengals offseason moves enough to give optimism about 2018 after two losing seasons and retaining Marvin Lewis?

When the Bengals decided to retain Marvin Lewis once again it left fans feeling very little optimism with plenty of reason. Fans are tired of getting their hopes up for a playoff win or even appearance. Failing to earn a playoff victory after 15 years is plenty of reason to have no faith.

Since being retained, Lewis has done everything backward of how he has always gone about doing things. We have seen the biggest colossal of coaching changes since Lewis joined the club and the Bengals actually made some moves in free agency. Trading for Cordy Glenn and signing linebacker Preston Brown are completely out of the norm for Cincinnati.

With talks about changes scheme-wise on both sides of the ball, being more aggressive in the free agency period than any other year under Lewis, and hoping that Lewis keeps the trend going allowing rookies to have more playing time there are definitely reasons to have optimism. However, I understand not wanting to dive all in without a single game played in the 2018 season yet.

Next: Andy Dalton talks about Bengals returning to the playoffs

While trying to keep a realistic eye on things, it’s hard not to be excited about what we have seen and heard from the Bengals and Marvin Lewis. He has kept his word about bringing in players from other clubs and making changes in the coaching and schemes. It’s by far the biggest amount of change that Lewis has initiated and it makes you wonder what could happen. The offense is a few offensive line pieces away from being a possible dominant force and the defense is one or two playmakers away if not just a slight scheme adjustment.

-Answered by Travis Steffen