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ESPN makes case for Bengals and Chargers to strike Round 1 trade

If the Bengals want a top-10 prospect that fills a position of need, they may have to trade up to get it.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft nearly here, the Bengals may want to trade up in Round 1 to assure themselves of getting a player not only worth a top 10 pick but also one who addresses a major need.

A common theme that we’ve seen in many mock drafts thus far is Cincinnati either spending the No. 9 pick on someone who doesn’t fill a position of need, or using it on a player not worth a top-10 draft selection.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has a solution for this. Barnwell just did a mock draft piece that features the best possible trades for all 32 teams to make in Round 1. When it came to the Bengals, Barnwell thinks they should trade with the Chargers to move up to the No. 7 pick, and all it ultimately costs is a fourth-round pick.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Chargers get: Round 1, pick No. 9 and Round 4, pick No. 116

Bengals get: Round 1, pick No. 7

The Bengals generally stay put on draft day, having traded up once (for Russell Bodine) and down once (with the Patriots in the Chandler Jones-Kevin Zeitler swap) over the past five seasons. This year might be a little different, if only because the Bengals have 11 selections to work with, including compensatory selections in each of the final four rounds. They probably don't need to draft yet another cornerback in the first round, but the Bengals could move up to grab defensive line help in Jonathan Allen or edge rusher Derek Barnett. Cincinnati would be paying a premium by both charts to make this move, but only a small one -- 6.2 percent by the Johnson chart and 12.2 percent by Stuart's model.

The Bengals may be smart to make a deal like this and move up to the No. 7 spot, depending on who they want at No. 9. The Panthers actually have some similar needs, especially at defensive end and running back.

It’s possible the Panthers use the No. 8 pick on a guy Cincinnati desperately wants one pick later, so trading with San Diego to move ahead of Carolina makes perfect sense.

Guys like Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas are probably who the Bengals want at No. 9, and there’s a good chance that one of those guys falls to No. 8, but it’s hard to see any of them lasting until No. 9.

If the Bengals don’t move up, they could be left with a less-than-ideal situation of either drafting a player worthy of the pick who doesn’t fill a position of need, or they may reach for a player that fills a position of need. Guys like Utah tackle Garett Bolles, Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton or Alabama tackle Cam Robinson are some of the candidates to be overdrafted at No. 9.

Then there’s guys like Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Ohio State safety Malik Hooker or Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams who would offer a good value at No. 9 but don’t fill positions of need.

If all it takes is a fourth-round pick to avoid the Bengals reaching or going with a player who doesn’t fill a need, Cincinnati should make the deal?