With the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Bengals will be in a position to draft a difference maker. As far as what difference the player will end up making, there are a lot of different directions they could go. They could look to repair a defense that was embarrassing in 2018, improve their decrepit offensive line, or make a franchise altering change at quarterback.
Based on everything they have said a done this offseason, this is how I’d rank the possibilities.
The Bengals biggest hole in 2018 was at linebacker. If available, LSU linebacker Devin White is probably at the top of their board. White has been heavily linked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who own the 5th overall pick.
If he does not make it to the Bengals pick, they could go with Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. Both Bush and White would bring the Bengals linebacking corps a much-needed boost in athleticism.
Based on their obvious need at the position, and everything that has been done this off-season, it seems highly likely that they select one of these two players.
2. Defensive end
The Bengals don’t have an obvious need at defensive end, but they scheduled pre-draft visits for Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Michigan’s Rashan Gary, and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.
This could mean that the Bengals are don’t feel good about Carl Lawson’s returning from injury and staying healthy in the future. Regardless, it certainly never hurts to have too many pass rushers. The Eagles won a Super Bowl not too long ago with a team driven by a deep and versatile defensive line group. Gary definitely has the ability to rush from the inside, and Sweat could as well.
3. Tight end
The Bengals re-signed C.J. Uzomah and brought back Tyler Eifert for another year. Eifert is a special player when healthy, but at this point, that has become a rarity. Uzomah is serviceable, but the team could certainly use an upgrade and long term replacement for Eifert.
They could find their answer from either of Iowa’s tight ends T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant. Both are talented pass catches and excellent athletes. Hockenson gets the edge, because he is a better blocker and has better hands than Fant. The Bengals drafting Hockenson at 11 would not be a big surprise. It would also show that new head coach Zac Taylor is committed to having a dynamic offensive attack.
4. Defensive Tackle
The Bengals don’t have an obvious need here, but it would be a great move for the defense to add another interior pass rusher next to Geno Atkins . The only likely option here is Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Oliver is an exciting player who has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald and is a fan favorite on Bengals Twitter.
Drafting a quarterback would obviously the most dramatic move the Bengals could make. It would also be somewhat controversial as there is a large and vocal contingent of Bengals fans who are die hard Andy Dalton fans.
Oklahoma signal caller Kyler Murray will be long gone by the 11th pick. Odds are one or two other quarterbacks will be gone as well. The Giants, Jaguars, and Broncos could all select quarterbacks and the Dolphins or Redskins could trade up to get their trigger man,
There is however potential that a quarterback could fall to the Bengals. Although draft Twitter and Bengals fans love Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, there is a rumor spreading that the NFL may not. This could be just talk as you can’t trust anyone this close to the draft, but it is a possibility. Haskins is a skilled player, the top knock on him is that he was only a one-year starter.
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was said to be the apple of John Elway’s eye early in the pre-draft process, but he too is rumored to be lower on boards than expected. Lock is a gritty player with an excellent ability to create and fiery leadership qualities.
A final name who is expected to be called in the first round is Daniel Jones from Duke. Jones is rumored to be much more popular with GMs than he is with analysts. Jones throws a good ball, but has consistency issues and played in a very simple offense.
6. Trade down
If White is gone and the Bengals are focused on getting a linebacker, they may try to trade back a few slots because we all know how much they love draft capital. If the traded back to the Dolphins 13th pick or the Redskins 15th pick, they would likely still be able to get Bush. The Dolphins may be willing to pay heavily to move up only a few slots if Haskins, Lock, or Jones is available and their target.
7. Offensive line
When the Bengals re-signed Bobby Hart, it became highly unlikely that they would draft an offensive tackle in the first. Yes, they should be looking to improve at the position by drafting Florida’s Jawaan Taylor, Alabama’s Jonah Williams or Washington State’s Andre Dillard but they likely won’t. The Bengals will definitely not take an interior linemen in the 1st Round in 2019 after drafting Billy Price 21st overall just one year ago. In fact, by signing offensive guard John Miller from Buffalo and re-signing Trey Hopkins and Alex Redmond, the Bengals made it unlikely that they will draft an offensive guard or center at all.
8. Defensive back
The Bengals have three former first-round cornerbacks on the roster in Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson. They also used two draft picks on the position in 2018 with Davontae Harris and Darius Phillips. The Bengals do love drafting cornerbacks in the first round, but it is highly unlikely that they will do it again this year.
Despite the fact the Bengals Twitter has recently turned on Shawn Williams, he has played at a high level over the past two seasons. In adding Jessie Bates in 2018, the Bengals solidified that position group.
9. Wide receiver
The Bengals may look to add a receiver as insurance for John Ross or for depth, but definitely not in the first round. The Bengals have a solid starting group with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Ross. Look for them to address other needs in Round 1.
10. Running back
The Bengals a will not be drafting a running back in the first round. In fact no one will. The Bengals have one of the best young rushers in the league in Joe Mixon and versatile change of pace player in Giovani Bernard. If the Bengals were to draft a running back it wouldn’t be until Day 3.