Cincinnati Bengals: Is Linebacker or Offensive Line a Bigger Need?
The Cincinnati Bengals have an opportunity to fill more holes in the NFL draft, but should they focus on addressing linebackers or offensive linemen?
After a productive free agency period for the Cincinnati Bengals, they have a couple of early draft picks this offseason in which they can address two of their biggest needs. With either selection 33 or 65, the front office could address both of their glaring weaknesses, but it’s important to look at which one will benefit the team more. So is linebacker or offensive line a bigger need?
At the top of round two, the Bengals should target the best player available. However, if the best available ends up being a linebacker or offensive linemen, it’ll be a huge plus.
Despite a solid linebacker class incoming, it doesn’t look like any of the top tier linebackers will be available when the Bengals second selection comes along. Isaiah Simmons, Kenneth Murray, and Patrick Queen all look like they’ll be off the board, so targeting someone like Akeem Davis-Gaither or Willie Gay Jr. in the third round makes more sense.
Right now, based on needs and player availability in the draft, offensive line is a bigger priority than linebacker. The Bengals normally run a 4-2-5 defense, meaning the addition of Vonn Bell will cause only two linebackers to be on the field for the majority of the time. Germaine Pratt and Josh Bynes fill those roles.
Regardless, adding a linebacker in the draft is still important for depth or when the Bengals use 4-3 packages. However, this makes it smarter for the team to target linebackers in round 3 and use pick 33 to fill a starting role with an offensive lineman.
Looking at the current state of the Bengals offensive line, it looks like only two spots are really filled. Center and left tackle are taken by Trey Hopkins and Jonah Williams, with the rest being up for grabs. Guys like Josh Jones, Cesar Ruiz, Austin Jackson, and Lucas Niang are players the Bengals could use the 33rd pick on to fill a starting position on their roster.
With the Bengals having the two linebacker positions in their 4-2-5 formation filled and only two out of five offensive line spots filled, it makes more sense to target OL before they target LB. It is very important that both positions get addressed in the draft, however, if the Bengals have an opportunity to decide between the two, they should opt to shore up the trenches first. At the end of the day, the best player available is the way to go for the 33rd pick, and the front office will have options regardless of how the board falls.