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Bengals’ 2017 NFL Draft: “What if” scenarios

The Bengals could be facing a couple of interesting decisions when they’re on the clock with the No. 9 overall pick this April.

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When you look at the Bengals’ 2017 draft needs, a small handful of positions readily jump off the page as needing help. A young pass-rusher and sideline-to-sideline linebacker top the list and there are a few prospects who the team should be eyeing at both positions as they sit at No. 9 overall.

The college bowl season has given both scouts and fans some good glimpses at the biggest stars in the NCAA ranks, with the National Championship providing a big platform for high-profile players to make a solid final impression before heading to the pros. It just so happens that both Alabama and Clemson have players the Bengals could be looking at in the top-10 next year.

A sensible pick seems to be Crimson tide linebacker Reuben Foster, who shined in the final game of the NCAA season, despite his team losing in the final seconds of the championship contest. However, with many positions on the table for the 6-9-1 Bengals, the Tigers also provide a couple of interesting options.

On this week’s Orange and Black Insider, Scott Schultze and I focused on the offensive side of the ball, as we looked at who the Bengals might take in the first round. After his stellar performance in Clemson’s win over Alabama, wide receiver Mike Williams could be a nice complement to A.J. Green as the team’s top two wide receivers.

Williams’ overall skill set resembles Green’s, as he has enough speed to go deep, can high-point the ball well and could provide defenses with headaches for years to come. Receiver might seem like a luxury pick for Cincinnati at No. 9, but with the red zone issues the team experienced during Ken Zampese’s first year as offensive coordinator, Williams teamed with Green and Tyler Eifert makes a lot of sense when trying to harken back to Andy Dalton’s near-MVP 2015 campaign.

Then, there’s the question of what happens if one of this year’s top quarterbacks is available for Cincinnati in the top-10. On the surface, selecting another top quarterback while employing Dalton and having many other needs seems silly. However, when you look at the perennial playoff teams and their elite signal-callers as well as the draft pick value the Bengals could receive from trading AJ McCarron, the Bengals could be playing with house money.

So, is it a matter of deficiencies on the rest of the Bengals’ roster, supplying Dalton with another weapon, or is it the quarterback himself? We discussed that on this week’s OBI.

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