As the days pass in April, the members of the Cincinnati Bengals’ front office are working fast and furious on how to improve their team. Armed with 11 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, it’s in those selections that the team is hoping to rebound off of a six-win season.
However, this year’s impending prospects bring about some interesting questions. While there are a lot of star names in the class, many pundits believe that similarly talented players can be had from the middle part of the first round to even into the second. Be it because of depth at certain positions or off-field concerns with this crop of rookies, teams might find it hard to find proper value with their picks.
With so many opportunities for the Bengals to strike gold, it got the Orange and Black Insider crew wondering if this year’s rebounding process is in quality or quantity. ESPN’s Katherine Terrell recently noted that the team has intentions of keeping all of their picks, seeming to show confidence that their draft-and-develop strategy can get the team back on track quickly. Cincinnati seldom trades up to spring for a player many perceive that they really want though, so is this the year to sacrifice some of those picks to leapfrog other teams for a potential need?
Why they should think about trading picks to move up:
How much roster space do they have for 11 new faces?: Even though some glaring needs reared their ugly head last year and have seemed to only increase with more free agency attrition this year, this team still has talent at key spots. The front office won’t concede they are in rebuilding mode this year, and like it or not, there is evidence to support the claim.
Even though they need help at wide receiver, running back, linebacker and defensive end, it’s hard to imagine 11 new faces either contributing immediately or developing on the practice squad. Cincinnati has also had success in getting talent in their undrafted free agent crops of late, so some of those 11 picks may end up being wasted.
This is the year to change the strategy: In Marvin Lewis’ 15 years as the Bengals’ head coach, there have been ebbs and flows—in both the positive and negative aspects. In those rare occasions that the team has experienced a losing season under his watch, the team has shown a penchant to make slight changes in how they operate to regain fan trust.
The team hasn’t moved up to get a player they may truly want often at all, but with the team needing immediate impact youngsters this year, it may be just the right opportunity to go for quality over quantity. It would be a bold change for an often-conservative franchise, but one that could quickly propel them back to their playoff-bound ways.
Why they should keep the 11 picks:
Breed competition: Like him or not, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has notoriously bred an atmosphere of never letting any player feel truly safe about their job, and it’s something that has brought much success under his watch. Lewis, on the other hand has tended to favor veterans and is deemed as a “player’s coach”, but that may be changing with so many valued long-tenured Bengals leaving in free agency. After a six-win season, very few positions should be off of the table for improvement, so adding 11 talented youngsters could be a good plan.
Inactivity in outside free agency: While their laying low through the month of March brings mixed feelings amongst the fan base, the Bengals just don’t bring in a bunch of high-priced free agents from other clubs. Because of that, those 11 picks are what they seem to be hanging their hats on this year. It also leaves the door open for youngsters to latch on to valued roster spots.
What do you think the Bengals should do with their 11 picks this year? Should they potentially move up if it makes sense? Or, should they keep all of the picks and sift through the talent they accrue?
Check out the audio link of this discussion from this week’s OBI episode. You can check us out live every episode here at Cincy Jungle and on our YouTube channel. If you can’t join us live, we have our content on SoundCloud, as well as on iTunes, and we’re reachable on Twitter @BengalsOBI, as well as via email at email@example.com.