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Could the Bengals actually select a receiver with a high pick this year?

The wide receiver group was the talk of the NFL Combine last weekend. Even though the Bengals have a lot of talent at the position, could they add even more early on in April?

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Free agency and the NFL Draft are right around the corner, and most agree on the roster needs for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Linebacker and offensive line are of utmost importance in 2019, as Zac Taylor tries to quickly remedy the issues of three straight losing seasons.

However, fixing the problems on offense goes beyond stabilizing the right guard and tackle spots. Taylor will need to have multiple able pass-catchers and astute route-runners to emulate the nuances of Sean McVay’s Los Angeles offense.

As it stands, the wide receiver group is one of the strongest on the Bengals’ roster. A.J. Green is one of the league’s best, and is making a bid for the Hall of Fame, while Tyler Boyd is fresh off of his first 1,000-yard receiving season. John Ross has had his share of struggles in his first two professional seasons, but at least showed growth in his seven touchdown catches in 2018.

Still, there are big questions facing the future of the group.

Green is in the last year of his deal and has missed out on finishing two of the last three seasons with significant injuries. Boyd is also in the last year of his deal and may test free agency, while rumors of the Bengals being interested in trading Ross have come and gone.

Behind those three are a bunch of question marks—both in what they haven’t shown as pros, and their fit in Taylor’s offense.

Looking at performances by incoming rookies last weekend in Indianapolis, the wide receiver group ran and jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium. Names like D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell and others wowed scouts in the 40-yard dash, high jump and other drills (yes, we’re aware of some deficiencies shown in other drills).

Green has been used on the outside and inside throughout his career, while Boyd does the majority of his damage out of the slot. Brian Callahan is currently concocting plans to unleash Ross, but that could come in a variety of looks.

Given the talent and future uncertainty at the position, could receiver be in play at pick No. 42, or even pick No. 11? We talked about it on this week’s Orange and Black Insider.

This would obviously depend on who is still left on the board. As we mentioned, guys like Devin White, Jonah Williams and Cody Ford will all be in the early conversations and, with his workout, Devin Bush has also propelled himself into top-15 conversations.

If those guys are off of the board, will the Bengals move down the pecking order, in terms of grabbing a player they have ranked lower at a higher need? Or, will grabbing one of the best players at a position that may not be at the top of the to-do list be a better route. After all, some could say that the Billy Price selection was an example of the former strategy.

Essentially, an argument could ensue depending on how the board falls. Grab a guy who may be the third or fourth-ranked player at the needier position on your board, or one of the top guys at a group that will need re-tooling in the near future.

And, as mentioned, Taylor’s offense needs an abundance of pass-catchers for the system to work. McVay’s 2018 offense employed six players who had at least 25 receptions, 400 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Four of those players were wide receivers and this group also included two receivers who had over 1,200 receiving yards (Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks).

Of course, on the flip side of the argument of grabbing a receiver in rounds 1-2 is a couple of those contributors, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, were third and fourth-round picks, respectively. So, it’s possible Taylor continues that strategy his former employer did to great success.

Still, the 2018 group flashed a boatload of athleticism this weekend, undoubtedly causing teams to go re-review tape. For now, we think the Bengals will go the safe route and stick with linebacker and/or offensive and defensive lines early in April.

Just don’t be surprised if Taylor decides that he wants to stockpile the skill positions. Did we mention that Mike Brown has an affinity for the flashy positions?

Also on this week’s episode:

  • Is Andrew Whitworth’s awful free agency experience with the Bengals still haunting them today?
  • Could former Rams free agents like John Sullivan and Mark Barron be outside free agent targets for Cincinnati?
  • Should the Bengals look at continuing to bolster their defensive line in free agency?
  • A couple of position groups that the Bengals undoubtedly have their eyes on showed up well at the Combine.
  • Might the team look at some of the Combine’s “workout warriors” and go best player available in the draft, as opposed to other positions of seemingly greater need?
  • Could cornerback be on the radar once again in the first round?

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