Why Offensive Tackle is Bigger Need for Bengals in NFL Draft

Elsa

The Bengals don't have many pressing needs entering free agency and May's NFL Draft, and while the cornerback position does need to be addressed, drafting an offensive tackle could have a bigger impact on this team in 2014.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in a position that many NFL teams desire to be in: They don't have a gaping hole in any part of their team that has to be addressed early in the NFL Draft and/or free agency.

While many will point to their aging and oft-injured cornerbacks, they should be able to perform at a high level for at least one more season as long as Leon Hall is able to return for the start of the regular season.

So instead of going into the NFL Draft with plan of upgrading one particular position, they can afford to spend their first-round pick on a position that will need someone to start at in a year or two.

One could argue that even with that mentality, cornerback is where the Bengals should go in the first-round. That may be true, but they're also in a spot where they don't have to draft a cornerback just for the sake of getting one early.

There's a possibility that the best cornerback available at No. 24 isn't worth that high of a draft pick. One could argue that was the case with Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012, but the Bengals thought there was such a big need there, they picked him anyway.

In other words, if there's a quality player at a position that will be in need of an upgrade in the coming years, the Bengals should go with him over the best-available cornerback.

Offensive tackle is the biggest area that applies to. It's easy to point to Andrew Whitworth and his age (32), plus the fact that he missed two games due to injury in 2013, and the fact the Bengals want to move him to guard. That said, he has to play tackle if Anthony Collins leaves in free agency.

Until AC is re-signed, tackle is the Bengals' biggest need. If he leaves and Whit stays at LT, who fills-in for him or Andre Smith if the miss time due to injury? Tanner Hawkinson?

Smart teams have good backup plans, and at this moment, the Bengals don't have a good one behind either of their tackle spots. And one mustn't forget that Smith will hit free agency in 2016, and with two years left on his deal, getting his potential replacement this offseason would be a smart move. Theoretically, the Bengals could get an instant-impact starter and add depth at another position by drafting an offensive tackle with their first pick.

Lets say a guy like Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama is on the board at No. 24. The Bengals could draft him and make him the starting left tackle, giving the Bengals that instant-impact player they should get with a first-round pick.

But they would also be building depth for the future by moving Whitworth to guard. That would likely add one or two more seasons onto his career, as playing guard is  less demanding than tackle. It also forces Cling Boling to the bench and allows him to keep developing and eventually replace Whit once he retires.

But perhaps even more important is if Andre does leave in 2016, this scenario could have created depth behind him to help the Bengals if he does leave. As long as Whitworth is still playing, he could move to right tackle for a short time and allow a younger tackle to develop into that position.

Theoretically, the Bengals would have drafted another player to play right tackle at that point, but instead of throwing him right into the starting lineup, Whitworth should have enough left in the tank to start there to allow said player to ease into that role.

So by drafting a tackle in the first round of this year's draft, it could potentially make an impact at three different spots along the offensive line. The point here is there will be more ways for a tackle to have an impact quicker, and at the end of the day, a team striving to win a Super Bowl needs just that.

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