Bengals Draft Preview

Bengals Draft Preview
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It’s draft week! The 2019 NFL Draft starts on Thursday (1am Friday UK time). Draft boards are set and teams are ready for the three-day football extravaganza (without any actual football being played). Ninety-Nine Yards also has their eyes on the draft and I’ve been previewing the draft needs of every AFC North team. You can catch up with our previous previews here:

Browns

Ravens

Steelers

The final team in our draft previews is perhaps the most intriguing. The Cincinnati Bengals have a number of needs despite being a talented team . After a strong start to the 2018 season, things unraveled due to injuries and poor performances on defence. This resulted in a 6-10 record and the firing of long time head coach, Marvin Lewis. He was replaced by new boy Zac Taylor. The draft marks the Bengals next step towards a playoff return.

Lost

QB Tom Savage (Lions)

LT Cedric Ogbuehi (Jaguars)

TE Tyler Kroft (Bills)

TE Jake Fisher (Bills)

OLB Vontaze Burfict (Released, signed by the Raiders)

Additions

Re-signed TE Tyler Eifert, 1 year, $4 million

Re-signed TE C.J. Uzomah, 3 years, $18,3 million

Re-signed RT Bobby Hart, 3 years, $16.15 million

Re-signed ILB Preston Brown, 3 years, $16.5 million

Re-signed CB Darqueze Dennard, 1 year, $4.5 million

Signed G John Miller 3 years, $16.5 million

Signed CB B.W. Webb, 3 years $10.5 million

Signed DT Kerry Wynn, 1 year, $1.4 million

Free Agency Summary

The Bengals were quiet in Free Agency for reasons best known to themselves. They severed ties with LB Vontaze Burfict, whose play had diminished and who’d missed significant game time due to suspensions, but re-signed Preston Brown. In fairness to Brown he played with an injury for much of the season before being placed on injured reserve. The re-signing of Dennard at CB also makes sense as he provides solid depth. Webb and Wynn can fill in if needed but shouldn’t be counted on to produce at the top level.

Cincinnati took a small gamble by re-signing Eifert, one of the best tight ends in the league only a few years ago. Eifert hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to make an impact in each of the last 3 years. John Miller is an intriguing player with a physical style. At 25 he is still young and hopefully the change in teams will give him a chance to show what he can do, while the resigned players will likely provide depth to the offense.

2019 Draft Picks

The Bengals have eleven picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, including one inside the top 12. Their three sixth rounds compensatory picks and a sixth from the Cowboys should give them plenty of ammunition for trades, should Taylor feel the need to move up. Interestingly the Bengals have frequently double dipped (picked the same position in two rounds) in the past despite decidedly mixed results.

Round 1, Pick 11

Round 2, Pick 42

Round 3, Pick 72

Round 4, Pick 110

Round 5, Pick 149

Round 6, Pick 183

Round 6, Pick 198 (from Dallas)

Round 6, Pick 210 (Compensatory Selection)

Round 6, Pick 211 (Compensatory Selection)

Round 6, Pick 213 (Compensatory Selection)

Round 7, Pick 223

Positions To Be Addressed in The Draft

Linebacker

Although Preston Brown will get another chance to prove his value to the Bengals they must invest in this position in the draft. In round one the Bengals should be in a position to draft Devin Bush from Michigan. Bush offers star potential as a three down linebacker who will instantly provide an upgrade. LSU’s Devin White would also be a great fit but he’ll likely be a top 8 pick.

Alabama’s Mack Wilson is expected to be a Round Two target by many draft experts and would be a fit here. Alternatively, Minnesota’s Blake Cashman or Washington’s Ben Burr-Kirven also fit the athletic mould Cincinnati desire in their linebackers.

Tackle

Zac Taylor comes into Cincinnati with a reputation as an offensive guru. To make his offence work he must provide help along the line. The team needs to improve across the board here, especially at tackle. If Alabama’s Jonah Williams, the top offensive tackle available, falls to the Bengals they should sprint to the podium. He could start at either guard or tackle but in Cincinnati the greater need is tackle.

A Day Two pick who makes sense is Kaleb McGary. The Washington alumni could start at right tackle early and provide a much needed boost. Alabama State’s Tytus Howard is an extremely athletic prospect who could challenge the veterans and develop into a long term option. Later in the draft, Chuma Edoga is a tackle with impressive footwork from USC who could challenge those already on the roster.

Quarterback

Andy Dalton has been largely average throughout his career. Although Dalton showed signs of improvement in 2018, he looked lost at times, holding onto the ball for too long, before getting injured. When he was injured there was no depth behind him. The Bengals must bring in someone to at least challenge Dalton. However, Todd McShay of ESPN reported “there is a real possibility the Bengals make a splash with a quarterback in the first round.”

Should this be the case Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State could be a target, although I suspect he may have gone by the 11th pick. The Senior Bowl’s MVP, Duke’s Daniel Jones’s another possibility. Whilst Jones wasn’t a lights out player for Duke, his supporting cast were not overly impressive. However at the Senior Bowl, and also through practice there, Jones made people notice him. He may be someone the Bengals have an interest in.

Will Grier is a name that seems to have garnered more interest in the last week but the West Virginia product could still be available when the Bengals pick on Day Two. He’s got the intangibles teams look for and is a proven winner. This could make him hard to resist for the Bengals brain trust.

Saving their search until Day Three would likely guarantee another year of Dalton under centre. If this is the case Boise State’s Brett Rypien would be an option. He opened some eyes at the senior Bowl despite having less then ideal arm strength. Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson, on the other hand, has one of the stronger arms in the draft but is very raw.

Tight End

Tight end is a position where the Bengals need to add a deep threat. Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson is a player that would make sense, in fact that’s exactly who fell to the Bengals in the @NFLUKMock. He’s one of the most complete tight ends in the draft and would make his presence felt immediately.

Looking further down the draft boards, players like Kahale Warring of San Diego State fit the bill. Warring is an impressive 6’5″ target with fluid movement skills who could become the quarterback’s new safety blanket.

As tight end is likely down the list of needs would the Bengals consider leaving it late to draft a player like Donald Parham of Stetson University? His 2018 season was impressive (85 catches, 13 touchdowns) and he would be a matchup nightmare at 6’8”.

In Conclusion

With talent already on the roster, adding several impact players, especially at linebacker and along the offensive line, would greatly improve the Bengals season outlook. Adding competition at quarterback should also be a priority in case Dalton regresses.

The Bengals need at least four players from this draft class to make an impact as rookies to have any chance of competing for a spot in the post season.

Enjoy this article? Feel free to leave a comment or follow more of my writing on Twitter @Cumbleton. I write about the AFC North for Ninety Nine Yards, covering the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers.

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