Ever since Marvin Lewis arrived in Cincinnati, he's slowly and methodically built up a 53-man roster that's annually one of the best in football.
That's especially true of the Bengals since 2009 as they've won three division titles, had five double-digit winning seasons and six playoff berths. While there have been some big stars like Geno Atkins, A.J. Green and Andrew Whitworth, it's those other 40-50 guys who you don't hear as much about that also help get this team into the postseason.
Every team has a star or two, but it takes 53 men to build a consistent winner. That also helps teams like Cincinnati avoid having many, if any holes in their team, which in turn allows them to be flexible with their draft picks and not forced to reach for prospects at positions of need.
Tyler Eifert was taken in a year where tight end wasn't a big need. The same is true of Cedric Ogbuehi last year, but now he's the right tackle of the future for Cincinnati. These are just a few examples of why the team's biggest need may not necessarily be what they address with their first-round selection.
But it is still interesting to see what the experts think the Bengals' biggest needs are as the draft nears. ESPN's Todd McShay highlighted what he thinks Cincinnati's biggest areas in need of addressing are heading into the draft, and his list was a bit interesting:
Top needs: WR, 4-3 NT, OG, LB, RDE
The bad news is that both Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones left in free agency, leaving a gaping hole opposite A.J. Green at wide receiver. The good news? Cincinnati will have a decent chance to get one of our top-four WRs -- Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Will Fuller, Corey Coleman -- with the No. 24 overall pick. All four of those guys rank within our top-26 players overall. More good news: The Bengals will have plenty of Day 2 options to fill their need at 4-3 nose tackle. Meanwhile, at linebacker, A.J. Hawk is 32, Karlos Dansby is 34 and Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first three games next season. Cincinnati would be wise to pick up a LB with some upside in the mid-to-late rounds.
There's no question wide receiver is a big need, not to mention defensive tackle and defensive end. Linebacker isn't really a need at all, even after the Bengals just cut A.J. Hawk, but it is a position where Cincinnati can draft someone if there's a great value pick on the board.
However, offensive guard is probably one of the last positions Cincinnati needs to worry about addressing, at least in terms of this year. But if we're talking about beyond 2016, then it becomes a need if right guard Kevin Zeitler isn't re-signed next year.
Over at Bleacher Report, Matt Miller is hearing the Bengals are looking to go receiver with their first-round selection, though the defensive line will also be addressed.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have a reputation in scouting circles of drafting for need, and a coach on the staff expects a wide receiver to be the first-round need filled. Other areas that will get attention are defensive line and defensive back, likely in the top four rounds, according to the same coach.
CBS Sports' Jared Durbin also has wide receiver/tight end being the biggest need heading into the draft based on his rankings of all 32 teams' positional units, which was formed through a roundup by all the CBS Eye on Football staffers.
Durbin does note that, "The Bengals snuck in the top 10 despite losing both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency" in terms of the receiver/tight end rankings. If we're lumping those two together, then there's definitely a good case for not needing to address that area unless a player of good value at that position is on the board.
While it may be possible for the Bengals to land a quality receiver at 24, it's far from wise to assume receiver up being the pick. For a team that tends to be very good at staying true to their board, this is shaping up to be a draft where the 24th-overall pick does not see even a top-30 prospect at wide receiver still on the board at that point.
You could make good arguments for 6-8 teams drafting ahead of the Bengals needing a wide receiver in a draft that probably has just three to five receivers worthy of a first-round selection.
And we've harped on it a lot, but it can't be stressed enough how much the Bengals need to add another defensive lineman early in this year's draft. The Bengals are heading into the 2016 draft without a young and promising tackle on the roster behind Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. An aging Pat Sims and an injured Brandon Thompson are who the Bengals have to count on if either Atkins or Peko get hurt, not to mention one of them is going to play a lot as the third tackle.
That's why the guys at Pro Football Focus actually have 'defensive' interior being the team's biggest need, and here are some options they have for addressing it:
Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive interior
Day 1 option: Jarran Reed, Alabama
Domata Peko was our 96th-ranked defensive tackle in 2015, and it's time for some talent at nose tackle for the Bengals. Reed's 13.4 run-stop percentage was the best of any DT in the nation in 2015, and he would provide an immediate upgrade for Cincinnati.
Day 3 option: Nile Lawrence-Stample, Florida State
It's difficult to find a similar player on Day 3, but Lawrence-Stample was a good all-around defender for Florida State in 2015. At +21.5, he had the 12th-highest run-defense grade amongst defensive tackles in this class.
Just as important as getting another defensive tackle, the same is true on the edge as adding a young, talented end behind Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson is something the Bengals should look to do within the first four rounds. We haven't seen anything from Will Clarke or Margus Hunt to suggest they're ready to step up and account for the lost snaps from Wallace Gilberry leaving.
Amazingly, Gilberry has accounted for just 3.5 sacks over the past two years, but that's still 1.5 more than what Hunt and Clarke have combined for in their career. And to think, one of those two is suddenly a starter if either Dunlap or Johnson gets hurt is troubling at best.
Honestly, that scares the hell out of me. Between that and defensive tackle, the Bengals would be very wise to take the best available player on the board at 24. There's simply a better chance it's a defensive lineman than a wide receiver.
What do you think the Bengals' biggest draft need(s) will be as the draft begins?