2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Cincinnati Bengals’ Top 5 Needs
Needs the Cincinnati Bengals Must Address
In 2013 the Cincinnati Bengals went 11-5 and won the AFC North, but then they lost to the San Diego Chargers (9-7 in 2013) in the Wild Card round, 27-10. The Bengals probably don’t have as many glaring holes, particularly at the skill positions on offense, as many of the other NFL teams do, but they do have some needs that they must address this offseason.
The Bengals have a good QB in Andy Dalton. Dalton just needs to be more consistent in 2014 than he has been thus far in his career. If you are a fan of the Bengals it must be maddening to not know which Dalton will show up each week—the good or the bad. That being said, if Dalton can become more consistent and limit the turnovers (20 interceptions in the 2013 regular season), he could be a very good QB in the NFL.
A.J. Green is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and the Bengals have a couple of good tight ends in Tyler Eifert (21st pick in 2013 draft) and Jermaine Gresham. Eifert still has three years left on this deal and Gresham (who signed a five-year deal in 2010) is set to make a base salary of $3.4 million in 2014 after making $975,500 in 2013. I know neither set the world on fire last season and neither would be confused for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski or New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, but both are good tight ends.
Every team in the NFL has needs they must address either through the draft or free agency. If the Bengals are all set at wide receiver, tight end and starting QB, what are their needs going into the 2014 season?
If the Bengals want to make a deeper run in 2014 here are five needs they should address in the 2014 NFL Draft.
5. Backup QB
As I stated previously, I like Dalton,as long as he can be more consistent and limit the turnovers. There are certainly more pressing needs the Bengals need to address before a backup QB, but if they could find a value pick at QB in this year’s draft they should take advantage. I’ve seen some people stating the Bengals should try to select Aaron Murray out of Georgia with their third-round pick. While I think Murray would be of value in the third round and the Bengals are a pretty deep team, I think they have other needs to address before taking a QB in the third round. There seems to be more and more QBs available each year in the draft, so if the Bengals fail to draft a QB this year there is no need for their fans to lose sleep. If the Bengals do want to draft a QB in the third round they should also keep their eye on Zach Mettenberger out of LSU who could possibly be available.
The Bengals probably do not need to draft a linebacker with their first-round pick since they have bigger needs and they have two starters locked up in Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga. It would make sense for the Bengals to use a later draft pick on a linebacker, though.
3. Defensive End
Yes the Bengals have Robert Geathers (aging), Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry on the roster, but they probably want to upgrade at the defensive end position. In addition, free agent Michael Johnson is probably on his way out of Cincinnati. If Michael Sam is available in later rounds it may make sense for the Bengals to draft him, but they may find a defensive end earlier than Sam is projected to go. If the Bengals draft a defensive end in the first round they may target Stephon Tuitt out of Notre Dame or Scott Crichton out of Oregon State.
2. Offensive Tackle
This is one of the Cincinnati’s bigger needs as it seems that Anthony Collins will leave Cincinnati after a good 2013 campaign. If the Bengals want to go with a safer pick and draft an offensive tackle in the first round, Zack Martin out of Notre Dame, Taylor Lewan out of Michigan or Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama all make sense.
I feel this is arguably the biggest need in Cincinnati. The Bengals need a cornerback and a safety. The Bengals should address cornerback in the early rounds. If either Loucheiz Purifoy out of Florida or Bradley Roby are available in the second round the Bengals should draft one of them. The Bengals could also draft Jason Verrett out of TCU to help fill their need at cornerback. Cincinnati may also try to gain some depth at safety in later rounds, but filling their need at cornerback is more of a concern.