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Could a trade scenario be in play for the Bengals in the 2020 NFL Draft?

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Fans and pundits have been pointing to only a couple of scenarios to play out

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As it currently stands, the Cincinnati Bengals have played poorly enough in 2019 to net them the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. Though they have a number of roster holes, the consensus opinion is that they will be taking a quarterback high in the class—likely eith that first overall pick.

It’s a good year to need a quarterback, as upwards of four or five players could be first-round picks at the position. The three names that have usually linked to Cincinnati are: LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and, to a lesser extent, Oregon’s Justin Herbert. The former two squared-off against each other last Saturday for an electric clash with two high-profile performances from each guy.

While quarterback with the top pick is the common belief with the Bengals, another option has been harped upon—mostly by fans. A minority contingent believes Cincinnati should use that top pick on the best overall player in Ohio State defensive end, Chase Young.

Though not an overly-popular stance, there is logic to it. Aside from Young netting 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in just eight games, even the most casual of NFL fans can see the respective impacts the Watt and Bosa brothers have had on their teams.

There may be another scenario on the table no one is talking about, though. Could the Bengals trade back a few spots, net more high picks, still get a top-flight quarterback and bolster the rest of the roster in the process? We discussed this notion on this week’s episode of The Orange and Black Insider.

Aside from seeming to lose games somewhat-intentionally, the Miami Dolphins have been siphoning off their best players for high picks. If they weren’t going to land the first overall pick (they currently sit at No. 4 overall), common beliefs are that they would use their arsenal to get to No. 1.

The same could be said about many teams sitting in the top-half of the order. Here’s the updated list, as of the Week 10 results:

1. Cincinnati Bengals (0-9)

2. Washington Redskins (1-8)

3. New York Giants (2-8)

4. Miami Dolphins (2-7)

5. New York Jets (2-7)

6. Atlanta Falcons (2-7)

7. Cleveland Browns (3-6)

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)

9. Denver Broncos (3-6)

10. Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1)

11. Detroit Lions (3-5-1)

12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

13. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

14. Oakland Raiders (from CHI)

15. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)

17. Oakland Raiders (5-4)

18. Indianapolis Colts (5-4)

19. Carolina Panthers (5-4)

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR)

21. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

22. Miami Dolphins (from PIT)

23. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

24. Minnesota Vikings (7-3)

25. Buffalo Bills (6-3)

26. Miami Dolphins (from HOU)

27. New Orleans Saints (7-2)

28. Seattle Seahawks (8-2)

29. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)

30. Green Bay Packers (8-2)

31. New England Patriots (8-1)

32. San Francisco 49ers (8-1)

A roster in need of a lot of help

As one looks over the list of the first round order, Miami seems like the best potential trade partner with their three picks. And, in having a pick just a few spots behind where the Bengals sit, while having two teams in front of them that invested 2019 first-round picks on quarterbacks, Cincinnati could still largely have the pick of the litter, while also building around the new signal-caller.

When looking back at the film against the Ravens last week, it’s painfully-apparent just how far apart the talent disparity is between Cincinnati and the current AFC North leaders. While Cincinnati needs a franchise-changing quarterback, they also need high-impact help at linebacker, along the offensive line and potentially even wide receiver. Additional first-round picks could potentially right the ship more quickly than staying put.

Speaking of blockbuster trades...

When bringing up a quarterback prospect, some fans look at the collegiate uniform over the tape. For Tagovailoa, the questions are in the lack of pro success from Alabama quarterbacks, while Herbert’s Oregon ties remind Bengals fans of the Akili Smith debacle.

Regardless, this isn’t a best practice when properly evaluating a prospect.

But, speaking of Smith and the 1999 Draft, remember the haul that Mike Ditka and the Saints offered the Bengals to move up from No. 12 in an effort to select Ricky Williams? Cincinnati declined a wealth of picks, in which they could have still potentially drafted Smith (or Daunte Culpepper, Cade McNown, etc.) and surround them with high-end talent.

The No. 1 overall pick is a coveted commodity. While we shouldn’t expect a team to offer the ridiculous treasure chest the Saints used two decades ago, good offers will be thrown the Bengals’ way and the decision could mark another pivotal crossroads point in the franchise’s history.

How they view “The Big Three”

Cincinnati’s front office is undoubtedly interested in the trio of Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert. Depending on who you ask, a major talent chasm may or may not exist from one of these guys to the other.

This, along with which guy fits Zac Taylor’s scheme best, will dictate what the Bengals will do with their top pick. If they stick with their No. 1 overall pick, it’s either because they view one of these guys as far superior than the others, and/or because they didn’t field lucrative offers.

However, if the team feels that all three are “franchise guys”, they may be more willing to make a move. And, if they’ve learned anything from the past couple of years, surrounding their quarterback—transcendent talent or not—with effective help is of paramount importance.

A springtime sale?

Cincinnati has some tough decisions to make next offseason, when it comes to some of their top veterans. They didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline, but they may be more prone to take advantage of teams in the spring months, as they get more eager to make moves.

Andy Dalton, A.J. Green (he’d need to be franchise-tagged, or extended), Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Cordy Glenn and others not jiving with Taylor’s future vision could be dealt. Getting any kind of decent hauls for these players would obviously affect the Bengals’ willingness to deal away the No. 1 overall pick.

What’s going to move the needle and sell tickets?

Upon the hiring of Taylor, Bengals owner Mike Brown noted the lack of fan attendance at home games as a factor in their decision to move away from Marvin Lewis. As it stands, Cincinnati is currently 31st in the NFL, in terms of average home attendance (46,354 per home game), which is only above the Los Angeles Chargers (25,385) and their temporary, makeshift home in Los Angeles.

They need to have a sexy offseason to win fans back.

Does that mean taking a quarterback at No. 1 overall? Does it mean selecting the local star in Young at the top of the draft? Or, is it in attempting to land more high picks and, thus, potential household collegiate names?

While attendance shouldn’t dictate the draft, it is part of the business-decision making process for NFL teams. We’ll have to wait another five months to see the plan, much less if the Bengals hang on to the top pick.

Also on this week’s episode:

  • What were the takeaways from Ryan Finley’s first pro start?
  • Was the cutting of Preston Brown a signal of positive change in operational practices, or will it further their shying away from free agency moves?
  • What did Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa show on film in their big SEC clash last weekend?

Our thanks to the live viewers who joined us on our YouTube channel and via Cincy Jungle’s Facebook for the live recording. Join us every episode, including our weekly show, listener questions episodes and our postgame reaction show!

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