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2018 NFL Draft: Bengals’ remaining needs and targets for Rounds 2-3

The Bengals addressed their biggest need on Thursday night, but many others remain. Where could they be focusing with their three picks on Friday night?

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals went sensible and safe in the first round, as they selected Ohio State center Billy Price with the No. 21 overall pick. With that check mark notched off of the list, the team is shifting its focus to further improve the roster.

Might the team still look at improving the interior offensive line? After all, UTEP’s Will Hernandez and Iowa’s James Daniels are still available as night two is approaching.

Still, outside of those value picks, other needs might be more pressing than that of “best player available”. Here are some of the areas the team might look to address in Rounds 2 and 3 with three picks in their pocket.


Based on their flirting with veterans Kurt Coleman and Eric Reid in the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Cincinnati wants a third swing defensive back to garner more turnovers. This is part of Teryl Austin’s new approach with the Bengals’ defense and there are a couple of intriguing names who are available on night two.

Ronnie Harrison of Alabama had 2.5 sacks and three interceptions in 2017, to go along with 74 total tackles. While he’s talented, one has to ask the question if he’s more of a product of a great overall Crimson Tide defense, or if he’s a star in the making.

Reid’s younger brother, Justin, is also in play, but opinions vary on where he may land. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has him as a prospect with an overall ranking placing him in the third round, but some believe he’s a second round talent. He had 94 total tackles and five interceptions in 2017.

Targets: Ronnie Harrison, Justin Reid, Jessie Bates III, DeShon Elliott, Marcus Allen

Edge rusher:

Inexplicably, Boston College’s Harold Landry remains on the board, as one of the better edge players in this year’s class. Yes, he only played eight games with just five sacks in 2017, but in 13 games as a junior, Landry had 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.

There are others who are potential projects, but could be nice additions on night two. USC’s Uchenna Uwosu might be a guy who kills two birds with one stone as an outside linebacker with pass rush ability, while Florida State’s Josh Sweat and Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor are other intriguing options.

Look, the Bengals seem set with Carl Lawson, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson at end, but the latter two are entering the twilight of their respective careers. Even if a second or third round pick is used on a rotational guy, it’s a position every team covets. And, Lawson proved that even mid-round rotational rushers have immense value.

Targets: Harold Landry, Sam Hubbard, Uchenna Nwosu, Arden Key, Rasheem Green, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Duke Ejiofor


Though Cincinnati has visions of an increased role for Lawson and they expect to have Vontaze Burfict for at least 12 games, the prevailing thought is that they need more depth. Jordan Evans and Nick Vigil need to show more and Preston Brown is on just a one-year deal with the club.

Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch are all off of the board, so Cincinnati might need to get creative here. Whether it’s in some of those “‘tweener” guys we mentioned above, or in guys who can help in more traditional packages, there is talent to be had.

BYU’s Fred Warner, South Carolina’s Skai Moore and Texas’ Malik Jefferson are all viable options on Friday night. This draft for the Bengals will likely be about the trenches, but they need to improve off of their deplorable run defense from last year and linebacker is part of that improvement.

Targets: Malik Jefferson, Darius Leonard, Fred Warner, Josey Jewell

Defensive tackle:

With the trifecta of previous fourth round picks like Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow in the fold, some believe the Bengals can wait until day three for another interior defender. Vita Vea went to the Buccaneers at No. 12, while Taven Bryan went at No. 29 to the Jaguars and Da’Ron Payne was selected by the Redskins at No. 13, but there are some more intriguing options available.

Michigan’s Maurice Hurst has some medical red flags, but he has first round talent, but he might be a guy who slides farther than expected because of a heart issue. Two other guys to watch when it comes to the Bengals on Friday night are Stanford’s Harrison Phillips and Virginia Tech’s Tim Settle.

Targets: Maurice Hurst, Harrison Phillips, Tim Settle, Da’Shawn Hand, P.J. Hall

Offensive guard:

As mentioned earlier, the Bengals could get creative and have a banner weekend for offensive line coach, Frank Pollack. After grabbing Price in the first, some other solid guards are ripe for the picking on Friday.

Hernandez might be the cream of the crop, while a guy like Daniels could also be looked at for the open right guard spot. And, if we’re getting really crazy with conjectures, Price has guard ability, as the team could bring both centers in with the idea of moving one to guard.

Auburn’s Braden Smith and Virginia Tech’s Wyatt Teller are also lurking on the periphery. Some believe that the team could rely on guys like Christian Westerman, T.J. Johnson, Trey Hopkins and Alex Redmond to man the open right guard spot.

Because of the team finally admitting the need at center, a position the Bengals traditionally undervalue, we’re reticent to admit to they’ll do the same after letting Kevin Zeitler go in free agency. We’ll see.

Targets: Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett, Braden Smith


“The big five” are off of the board, with Lamar Jackson landing with the division rival Baltimore Ravens. Still, this is an insanely deep quarterback class and there are a number of available players who range from an ability to push Andy Dalton for a starting job, to those who are replacing AJ McCarron as a backup quarterback.

Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Washington State’s Luke Falk and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta seem to be all guys who will be selected on Friday. Would one of these be a guy who is an upgrade over Matt Barkley?

Targets: Mason Rudolph, Mike White, Riley Ferguson, Luke Falk, Kyle Lauletta

Additional needs: Kicker, kick returner, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle