Now that the Cincinnati Bengals have crashed out of the playoffs, their attention is going to turn towards finding pieces in the draft that will help them overcome the wildcard hurdle that has de-railed them now for the second time in as many years.
Even though their position in the first round is not set in stone just yet, they are looking at having the 17th or so overall pick, so this all begs the question, who will be available there and what do they need?
Lets address needs first, the Bengals are probably going to look for help at safety, running back and tackle with depth needs at both linebacker and wide receiver. Since the Bengals made it to the playoffs they are not looking at adding a lot of new blood, but are instead going to need a couple more difference makers that will contribute early.
Realistically there won’t be a running back who is good enough to take with a first round selection, but there are a couple of offensive tackles and a safety that could be available to the Bengals. Let’s look at offensive tackle first.
Clearly the Bengals struggled a lot against the Houston Texans defensive line and in particular J.J. Watt, so a quality tackle would be ideal and allow them to have a player who has potential to start straight away but doesn’t necessarily need to. Picking at seventeen may be a little touch and go on the tackle front as they may have missed out on the last of the upper echelon guys such as Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. But if one of these players fell to Marvin Lewis and Co, then the fact that Andrew Whitworth is now becoming replaceable due to his age could see the Bengals pull the trigger on a young tackle.
The other big need that the Bengals can address is that of the safety position where they are beginning to age quite badly. Luckily there’s a young safety who’s a product of the Texas Longhorns by the name of Kenny Vaccaro that has the ability to upgrade their secondary straight away. Vaccaro may not be the next Ed Reed of the AFC North but has great coverage skills that would really help the Bengals when it comes to beating some of the more pass-happy teams that populate the NFL these days. Vaccaro has a good chance at being available when it comes round to the Bengals selection, so if the tackles are off the board then the Texas product is the logical choice in this spot.