It's no secret the Bengals badly need a receiver in this year's NFL draft, but with two receiver-needy teams picking ahead of Cincinnati, they may be best served to trade up to get the receiver they want.
Both the Minnesota Vikings (23) and Houston Texans (22) are projected to take a receiver in many mock drafts, so Cincinnati may be wise to try and move ahead of those two in order to land the receiver they want. Could former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden help make that happen?
One mock drafter who sees that happening is Bleacher Report's Luke Easterling, who has the Bengals getting Baylor receiver Corey Coleman via a trade as they swap spots with Washington to move up to 21.
If the price is right, don't be surprised if Cincy jumps ahead of those teams to secure a playmaker like Baylor's Corey Coleman, who would be the perfect complement to Green. Though he's undersized at just 5'11", 194 pounds, Coleman is the most explosive receiver in the class.
The Bengals have seen first-hand what a smaller but dynamic pass-catcher can do after watching the Steelers' Antonio Brown run through the AFC North at will. This could be their chance to get one of their own.
Most NFL trades happen between teams with some sort of history with each other. The Bengals obviously have that with Gruden, and it probably wouldn't cost much to move up to 21. Maybe a fourth-round pick would do the trick.
Over at SB Nation, Adam Stites went with Ohio State receiver Michael Thomas at 24:
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu is tough, but A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert still provide Andy Dalton with some excellent options. With the No. 1 receiver role solidly filled by Green, the Bengals can snag Thomas, who is probably the most polished route-runner in the class. None of his measurables stand out as particularly special, but Thomas is a player who always found a way to get open at Ohio State and showed off stellar hands.
Elsewhere at SB Nation, I had the opportunity to draft for the Bengals in the 2016 SB Nation Writer's Mock Draft, and I think you'll be happy with who Cincinnati landed:
24. Bengals: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Kadar's Analysis: What are the chances the Bengals could see two wide receivers come off the board right in front of them, but the best player at the position is available? Obviously to get Treadwell with the 24th pick is a bit of a steal. He's an upgrade over Jones and Sanu and would give Cincinnati the 1B to A.J. Green's 1A.
For the Bengals to land Treadwell at that point would be a very nice steal as the Ole Miss star is viewed by many as this draft's top receiver prospect. As mentioned earlier, it's going to be hard to get a good receiver with the Vikings and Texans both needing receivers along with several other teams possibly taking one within the other 21 picks before Cincinnati.
Over at Yahoo Sports, Eric Edholm did a two-round mock draft that sees the Bengals taking Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson as an upgrade to Domata Peko at nose tackle.
24. Cincinnati Bengals — Alabama NT A’Shawn Robinson
Big, powerful nose with room to grow who can cut into the snaps of the overrated Domata Peko, who turns 32 this season and is entering the final year of his deal. The Bengals have done a tremendous job the past few seasons of drafting for future needs and not immediate desires, and Robinson could work into a rotation as a rookie before settling into a bigger role in 2017.
Edholm then has the Bengals taking Oklahoma star receiver Sterling Shepard in the second round.
55. Cincinnati Bengals — Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard
What thievery this would be at this point in the draft. Shepard would be the perfect slot complement between A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, adding to this offense what Tyler Lockett added to the Seahawks last season.
Considering a lot of mocks have Robinson going before pick No. 24, not to mention Shepard being a possible late first-round pick, that would be a great haul with Cincinnati's first two picks.