The Cincinnati Bengals have had an excellent free agency thus far. In order to maintain this momentum, they must take the best player available in the second round, regardless of need.
Excitement is at a level that hasn’t been seen in Cincinnati for quite a while. The Bengals currently hold the first overall pick of the draft and are expected to take Joe Burrow, giving them a potential franchise quarterback for the next ten years. They have also invested over $100 million dollars in outside free agents, something some thought would never be possible in the Queen City.
Despite this, the roster still has needs at the linebacker and guard positions, which has some fans concerned. Many believe that the front office must invest in one of these positions at the top of the second round. However, that shouldn’t be the case, necessarily.
This doesn’t mean that the pick can’t be invested into one of these positions, but ONLY if the best player available philosophy allows it. If one of the top linebackers (Queen/Murray) or someone like Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones manages to slip through the cracks, then you run to the podium. However, these players have solid first-round grades, and though it is possible for one or more of them to fall, it certainly isn’t a lock.
The draft is an unpredictable thing. Prospects rise and fall every year. Someone will go in the first round that no one expects, however, that also means that someone is likely to be available that teams will be surprised to see.
Despite the unpredictability, one thing is for sure, there will be a first-round talent available for Cincinnati at the beginning of day two, and they must take that player, regardless of position. The future of the roster depends on it and honestly, the only position that shouldn’t be on the table at pick 33 is quarterback, assuming it’s addressed with the first selection.
What if Queen and Murray both go in the first round as expected, yet Alabama safety Xavier McKinney is still available? The Bengals have to go with the Crimson Tide defender, even though safety isn’t considered as big of a need.
With McKinney, you get an elite level safety while also allowing Shawn Williams snaps at linebacker, which is where he already gets the majority of his playing time. In a sense, you have still addressed the linebacker need.
Point being, building a winning roster is all about collecting the best football players at your disposal and taking a first-round safety over a third-round linebacker is just an example of that.
This doesn’t just go for safety. Maybe the best player is a cornerback or wide receiver. Whatever the case may be, the Bengals must get the best football players they can, when they can. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the team’s needs shouldn’t be addressed. They just need to be addressed in the proper place. Whether that is in the second or the fifth round.
There will be good football players all over this draft, in every round. The key to winning the process is finding value. If the Bengals can do that, then they will be celebrating even more than they are now. Because you have to get it right in the spring in order to succeed in the fall.