For years, the Bengals' strategy in the draft has been to take the best player available in each round, rather than focusing their picks based on need. This strategy has given them some fruitful prospects, despite not necessarily needing help at their respective positions, such as Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill, and AJ McCarron.
Despite the success with this strategy in the past, you've got to think that the Bengals are still creating their big board around positions which they actually have room at for incoming players. Certain positions just wouldn't make much sense for the Bengals to draft early, even if the next Anthony Munoz is available. That example might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is, there are certain positions in which it makes sense to take the best player available, regardless of need, and certain positions that are at or exceeding capacity.
There's no reason at all for the Bengals to consider taking a quarterback before the late rounds of the draft. Even at that point, it would have to be the right player who would be able to be relegated to the practice squad but has enough talent to potentially replace McCarron when he inevitably leaves to be a starter somewhere else. Andy Dalton isn't going anywhere for a very long time, so even if Jared Goff somehow falls to them in the third round, you've got to think they wouldn't bother drafting him.
Much like the quarterback position, there doesn't seem to be any reason to take a running back this year before the end of the draft. You could make the argument that it's slightly more likely they would pick someone up at this position to bolster competition in training camp and keep their players fresh. But, any time before the sixth round would probably require someone early round talent making an almost unthinkable fall.
The Bengals seem to really like Ryan Hewitt, and there's no reason why they shouldn't. He's an athletic, converted blocking tight end who can fill virtually every need the Bengals might have at the position. You may recall that he struggled to produce at times last season, but he was so good in 2014 that you can't imagine they'd give up on him that quickly. Then again, if the right player like Glenn Gronkowski were to be available in the sixth or seventh round, it could make plenty of sense for the Bengals to pounce.
When the Bengals signed Brandon LaFell last month, they significantly reduced their need to take a top-level receiver in the draft. Regardless, if the best available player when the Bengals are on the clock at pick No. 24 is a wide receiver, they should certainly go after them. Not only could they draft a highly talented player, but, it will fill a need. If the Bengals see someone like Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell in the first round, Will Fuller or Corey Coleman in the second round or Pharoh Cooper and Braxton Miller in the third, they'd be crazy to not add another name to their receiver pool.
There's little reason for the Bengals to draft a tight end, though Anthony Cosenza made a case for it. The Bengals already have an excess number of players at the position in Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, and Ryan Hewitt. Though the tight ends on the roster behind Eifert have little experience, a late round tight end would have even less experience than the least experienced tight end on the Bengals' roster.
Andrew Whitworth isn't going anywhere anytime soon. On top of that, the Bengals drafted Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher with their first two picks in last year's draft. The team recently signed a contract extension with Eric Winston, in addition to bringing in Daryl Baldwin to shore up the depth. There is still a little room for depth left, so the Bengals will probably be keeping this position in the back of their minds if a talented player should fall to them in a later round, but beyond that, it's unlikely offensive tackle will be a focus in 2016.
The Bengals are set at the starting guard positions, however, their only depth at the position right now is projected to be Trey Hopkins and T.J. Johnson. Johnson's primary role is at center, so Hopkins is the only dedicated guard available if something should happen to Kevin Zeitler or Clint Boling. The Bengals will almost certainly pounce on the opportunity to add depth with the best player available if they can find that player in the middle to late rounds of the draft.
As wise as it would be for the Bengals to move on from Russell Bodine, the fact of the matter is, they don't typically put a lot of emphasis on this position early in the draft. If Ryan Kelly is available in the second round, there's no reason why they shouldn't jump on the opportunity right away. However, they're usually pretty patient with players along the offensive line and just re-signed backup T.J. Johnson this offseason.
The Bengals lost a key depth contributor at defensive end in Wallace Gillberry this offseason. Given the lack of development with Margus Hunt and Will Clarke so far, and the fact that Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson will both be free agents in a couple of years, tackling the future at this position now seems more and more important. If the best player available is a defensive end when the Bengals pick, go ahead and pencil him in.
The need at defensive tackle isn't quite as strong as the need at defensive end just because the Bengals didn't lose any depth at the position in the offseason. They resigned Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims and have talented third stringers in Marcus Hardison and DeShawn Williams. However, Domata Peko will be 32 in November. So, the Bengals will need to be thinking about the future opposite of Geno Atkins. If the best player available is a defensive tackle, there's a pretty good chance the Bengals will be selecting him.
Losing Emmanuel Lamur this offseason was a pretty big blow to the Bengals' outside linebacker depth. However, signing Karlos Dansby in free agency helps a lot. They have an abundance of players at outside linebacker right now, so this position isn't really as much of a need as it could have been. Regardless, if the best player available when the Bengals are on the clock is on outside linebacker, I wouldn't count out the position.
Rey Maualuga is 29-years-old and Vincent Rey recently signed a three year deal with the team. The Bengals might consider taking the best inside linebacker available once they get into day three just to bolster depth and competition, but this position is pretty far from being a 'need'.
With Leon Hall still yet to be re-signed, it seems like a pretty safe bet that the Bengals will need to find someone to bolster their depth at the cornerback position. They might be somewhat intrigued if a guy like William Jackson III, Eli Apple or Mackensie Alexander falls to them in the first or second round. But, you can almost guarantee that they'll pounce if a guy like Cyrus Jones falls to them in the fourth or fifth.
Here's a pretty crazy hypothetical scenario for you: If Jalen Ramsey somehow falls all the way to the Bengals at No. 24, would the Bengals take him? The answer is absolutely. The fact of the matter is he won't fall that far and the Bengals will almost certainly have no shot at him, but the point is, there's a hole at safety right now for the team. While that hole is not necessarily at the starting safety position, there's plenty of room for the right guy to come in and steal the show. The Bengals likely won't think twice if the best player available is a safety.