Cincinnati Bengals targeting defensive prospects in Round 2?

There is a lot of speculation surrounding what the Cincinnati Bengals will do in the 2020 draft beyond the first round. While it’s still early, some signs indicate they’ll pick a defensive player in round two. 

Many have come to the conclusion that the Cincinnati Bengals will select Joe Burrow in the first round. With that, a lot of the draft conversation has turned to how the team will build the roster from there on out.

With the wide receiver class set to be a historical one and the uncertainty surrounding A.J. Green’s contract situation, there is a line of thinking that the Bengals should get another pass catcher at pick number 33. However, according to Bengals senior writer, Geoff Hobson, getting an extra target in the passing game is no sure thing. In response to a fan’s inquiry on a wide receiver in the second round, Hobson had this to say,

“…the defense has to be addressed and the last two years have fallen short of the high standard set on that side of the ball in the past decade. So linebacker is on the board, of course, and cornerback and edge rusher. Best player available, but I’m guessing it is defense.”

This response falls in line with the positions the Bengals front office typically values most. The team has always had an affinity for cornerbacks, with a track record of selecting players at that position often in the first round.

In addition, the NFL as a whole generally views edge rushers as one of the more important pieces in building a contending team. The Cincinnati Bengals clearly agree, spending a lot of draft capital on the position recently and making Carlos Dunlap one of their highest-paid players. Adding another prospect at a spot they view so favorably would make sense.

Linebacker isn’t typically a position the team spends premiere picks on. However, with Nick Vigil set to be a free agent and Germaine Pratt the only player guaranteed to return, an infusion of new blood is needed.

It’s fair to point out that the team has invested in pass catchers early in drafts, suggesting the front office values the wide receiver position just as much as the others previously mentioned.

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Still, each time they spent a high pick on a receiver, there were extraordinary circumstances that caused them to do so. A.J. Green fit exactly what the Bengals wanted in a player to build their culture. Tyler Boyd was a must get after the team was reeling from the loss of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. John Ross became the fastest man in combine history and was seen as the missing piece to take the team beyond the first round of the playoffs. All things equal, the Bengals typically target wide receivers later in the draft.

With other emerging receiving options already on the team and no apparent reason to target a specific wideout, the position would seem to be lower on the pecking order this off-season.

However, the Bengal’s goal is usually to select the best player available. What if a receiver gets that distinction when they’re on the clock?

Despite that the receiver class is so deep, the most talented player available is more likely to reside on the defensive side of the ball in round two. This is due to many experts expecting a run on wide receivers in the back half of the first round. If those predictions become true, it will play into the Bengals favor, undoubtedly pushing some defensive players down the board.

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Obviously, at this point, it’s too early to get a steady indication of what position the front office will target with 100% certainty. Cornerback, edge rusher, or linebacker is no sure thing-especially with a dire need for an offensive tackle. Still, with all of the information currently available, a defensive player looks to be the most likely scenario.

If you were making the decisions for the Cincinnati Bengals, what position would you target in round two?

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