The Cincinnati Bengals have had an uncharacteristically aggressive offseason in 2018. Will they continue that in the draft?
When talking about the “aggressiveness” of a team, the term can mean different things depending on the team. Considering the Cincinnati Bengals are normally very conservative and quiet in the free agency period, this has been a pretty aggressive offseason so far for the club. For other teams, it might not warrant the aggressive title.
It seemed that the Bengals were going to be lost in their own ways again when they decided to retain head coach Marvin Lewis at the end of the season. Since then, the Bengals have been a completely different team as they have made countless changes to the coaching and personnel of the team. Including their offensive line coach for the last 23 years, Paul Alexander, who the Bengals decided to move on from.
The Bengals hired former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack who could be a huge gain for the team with as many offensive line issues as Cincinnati. With the losses of Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler last offseason, the Bengals line struggled tremendously to find any kind of answer as they shuffled through numerous linemen throughout the 2017 season. Pollack will hopefully bring some better coaching to the line along with some new additions in the draft.
The team also hired former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin this offseason who looks to change the look of the Bengals defense. Other positional coaches that have been brought in include cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones, defensive assistant Matt Raich, and wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. This is the biggest coaching change in the 15 years under head coach Marvin Lewis, now going into his 16th season with the organization.
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Cincinnati has also brought in a group of talent from other organizations which Lewis stated they had to do better in this offseason. Signing players like defensive tackle Chris Baker, offensive tackle Bobby Hart, and quarterback Matt Barkley as depth players. The real interesting moves have come from the trade for Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn, re-signing tight end Tyler Eifert to an incentive deal, signing linebacker Preston Brown, and now possibly signing safety Eric Reid.
The team has taken care of multiple concerning positions before the draft where they normally build their roster. Cincinnati has set themselves up nicely going into the draft already taking care of these areas of need bringing in immediate upgrades at each position. For the second year in a row, the Bengals have eleven picks in the draft but when you take a look at the roster, there is not enough room for eleven rookies.
The Bengals have a considerable amount of playmakers that would make you wonder how the team has had back to back losing seasons. There are absolutely some areas of major concern, mostly on the offensive line, but the roster as a whole is no slouch. If the team can upgrade their offensive line tremendously in the draft, we could be looking at an entirely different team in 2018.
There are still some questions of course on how some players like wide receiver John Ross will turn out this year, whether he will be able to be the playmaker they drafted him to be this year or not. There’s also guys like cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick that had a really down year in 2017 and wondering if he will improve this year. Then you have players that may need to be replaced next offseason if the team cannot reach a new deal with like cornerback Darqueze Dennard, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
Regardless, Cincinnati needs to continue their aggressive streak into the draft where they can move up in multiple rounds to grab better quality players. The team holds two third-round picks, three fifth-round picks, and three seventh-round picks they could use to bundle and grab guys earlier to really solidify some areas of major need. With what we have seen from the organization this far after Lewis stated they needed to improve in areas of bringing in new personnel, it would be surprising if the team wasn’t as aggressive in the draft.
The team will also most likely make some moves after the draft concludes moving on from players to free up cap space and bring in guys that they couldn’t address in the draft. I fully expect the Bengals to move up in multiple rounds of the draft and go after guys they are high on to improve this roster any more. Whether the team is finally hearing the fans frustrations or not, the team is finally making the changes needed and will hopefully keep moving forward to improve this roster and give quarterback Andy Dalton all the help they can to get back to the playoffs in 2018.