Linebacker, defensive end, running back and wide receiver have all been positions frequently linked to the Bengals as spots the team could be eyeing to upgrade with its first round selection. But, according to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, those aren’t the only positions in play.
“Every position but quarterback. We won’t take a quarterback,” Lewis told Bengals.com of the potential to draft any position with the team’s first round pick.”
And, as the Bengals have tended to do with many of their early and late-round draft picks, Lewis says the Bengals will draft the best player available when the club is on the clock during round one.
“We’ll go for the best player,” Lewis said. “And we’ll get a really good player and hopefully the guy will have a strong, healthy career.”
Lewis also recalled back to 2008 NFL Draft when the Bengals also held the No. 9 overall pick, with which the team selected USC linebacker Keith Rivers.
“Teams wanted to trade to take him,” Lewis said of Rivers. “A very good player. Excellent player. First day starter. C’mon. Hell of a player. He broke his jaw. There’s nothing you can do about injury.”
After a great start to his rookie year, Rivers shattered his jaw when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was responsible for a blindside, helmet-to-helmet hit. The hit prompted a rule change in the NFL for safety reasons and contributed to Rivers never living up to his top 10 draft pick billing. In 2012, the Bengals traded Rivers to the New York Giants for a fifth round draft pick. That followed a 2011 season in which Rivers failed to play a single game due to a wrist injury. It’s hard to say a player is a bust when injuries are what derail their career, but, Rivers was a failed top 10 draft pick for Cincinnati. That’s left some fans nervous about the team picking a linebacker with the No. 9 overall pick again in 2017.
Let’s hope whoever the Bengals select in Round 1 has a much more successful Bengals career than Rivers and becomes an instant-impact player in Cincinnati. If the Bengals’ first round pick is a day-one starter and immediately helps the team to win games, whoever it is will likely be highly appreciated and admired by the fans.
Let’s just hope it’s not another cornerback.