Free agency would typically dominate the variables as to whom the Bengals would draft. In this year's case, the Bengals have to decide what to do in the secondary at multiple positions, running back and even linebacker, defensive line and the offensive line.
Unfortunately, if no deal is struck before the March 4 deadline, then no free agency will happen and the Bengals can't sign their own, nor sign anyone else that's available. Like every team in the NFL, they'll have to depend on the draft for those improvements until the CBA is finally signed.
Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft on Wednesday (In$ider) and he wrote that the Cincinnati Bengals would draft Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.
Rookie Carlos Dunlap came on late for the Bengals and finished with 9.5 sacks, but the chance to draft the best pure pass-rusher on the board and immediately have in place a more formidable pass rush is too much to pass up. Bowers has the skill-set, explosiveness and relentless pass-rushing skills of a No. 1 overall pick. He's a good value, even at No. 4.
Also of note. Blaine Gabbert, quarterback from Missouri, is the first quarterback to go, drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Mel has the Browns drafting wide receiver A.J. Green sixth. DT Nick Fairley, CB Patrick Peterson and DE Marcell Dareus were the first three to go.