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Bengals Bytes (4/18): Can Cincinnati afford to reach?

Can the Bengals reach for a need in the first round even if it fills a major hole?

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Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Making the cases for Bengals options with Jackson
The Cincinnati Bengals met with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson yesterday, which ignited an interesting debate surrounding the Bengals quarterback situation. Do the Bengals need to replace Dalton, and is this the year to replace him? In all likelihood, the Bengals were just doing their due diligence on potential first round picks. The Bengals front office is known for being particularly thorough in their scouting.

Bengals offensive linemen liking tone shift under new coach Frank Pollack
Perhaps the biggest change around the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018 happens along the offensive line — but not because of new players taking over at certain spots. Rather, the biggest change comes from the arrival of former Dallas Cowboys line coach Frank Pollack.

Zaire, Barrett highlight locals at Cincinnati Bengals workout
As two of the top quarterbacks in the 2012 recruiting class, J.T. Barrett and Malik Zaire struck up a friendship at the Elite 11 quarterback camp and have remained close since. But while Barrett went on to become the all-time leading passer at Ohio State, Zaire was stuck in a backup role at Notre Dame, and the two never got to compete against each other.

Bengals cannot afford to reach in the first round
The NFL draft is eight days away and the Cincinnati Bengals still have plenty of holes to fill on their roster to get back to the playoffs in 2018. The most troubling holes are along the offensive line which they will need to address heavily in the draft. While trading back to acquire an upgrade at left tackle, there are other players in free agency they could have gone after.

Cincinnati Bengals 2018 NFL Draft strategy: Safety a surprise need
Five of 12. Contracts would suggest the Bengals are set for a while at this position. Not the case. Despite signing George Iloka and Shawn Williams to long-term deals in recent offseasons, the team has grown uncomfortable. They made an aggressive pursuit of free-agent safety Kurt Coleman during free agency but eventually lost out to New Orleans. Still, aggression showed they are looking for new personnel and are less than committed to Iloka, in particular, for the long term.

2018 NFL mock draft: The Bengals need a center
In the 2015 draft, the Cincinnati Bengals used their first two picks on offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. The pair should have been the bookends Cincinnati needed to consistently push for an AFC North title. Instead, they’ve been disasters. In an effort to fix their line this offseason, the Bengals traded the 12th pick in the draft to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for the 21st selection and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. It was a positive step, but then center Russell Bodine bolted in free agency. Now Cincinnati needs to find a starter at the pivot position.

Bengals' A.J. Green wants to wipe slate clean after 'crummy' season
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green would prefer to leave 2017 behind. The statistics of his season won't ever quite tell the story: 16 starts, 75 receptions, 1,078 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Many wide receivers might consider that a solid year, but Green thought it stunk.

TDBH: Bengals draft defense again with LBs Spikes, Simmons in first round
For the sixth time in their ninth draft of the 1990s, the Bengals take a defensive player with their first pick today in Auburn linebacker Takeo Spikes at No. 13. Not only that they take another linebacker four picks later in North Carolina’s Brian Simmons. Not only that they take University of Cincinnati cornerback Artrell Hawkins in the second round and then Northeast Louisiana linebacker Steve Foley with their first pick in the third round. This defensive offensive comes in the wake of the 7-9 finish when late last year quarterback Boomer Esiason famously leads the Bengals to a 42-41 lead in Philly in the last two minutes only to come to the sideline and say to no one in particular, “Not enough.”

AFC North Bytes

Ravens' Joe Flacco intends to hold throwing sessions to build trust
Camp Flacco is back after popular demand. At the start of the Baltimore Ravens' offseason workout program, quarterback Joe Flacco said he plans to hold extra throwing sessions with new receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown this summer between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp.

Lions' Matthew Stafford's advice to next Cleveland Browns QB
And if Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen happens to be the pick, well, Matthew Stafford's words might be music to their ears. Nine years ago, Stafford was the No. 1 pick of the 2009 NFL draft, heading to a team coming off an 0-16 season, in a football-crazed town starved for success.

Random Bytes

Aaron Rodgers Jokes Packers' Interview Headline 'Needs More Click Bait'
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had some fun on Twitter with a headline from the team's official website. The article from Mike Spofford was tweeted out with the headline "Packers QB Aaron Rodgers talks offseason changes," prompting the two-time NFL MVP to respond with this

Roger Goodell Deposed in Colin Kaepernick Collusion Case; QB Present for Hearing
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took part in a deposition Tuesday as part of Colin Kaepernick's collusion case against the league. Per Richard Maese of the Washington Post, Kaepernick was in the room for the entirety of Goodell's deposition that lasted "all morning." Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion last October after he went unsigned by all 32 teams as a free agent since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017.

Todd McShay's 2018 NFL draft grades comparing Saquon Barkley vs. elite running backs
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is the clear-cut No. 1 running back in the 2018 NFL draft class, but how does he compare to other elite RB prospects? Let's run through my highest graded RBs since 2007, slotting in Barkley accordingly.