Whom the Bengals will select first in next months’s NFL Draft has become the hottest conversation now that free agency has died down. Penei Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase have created a division amongst Bengals fans, and there’s even some still waving the Kyle Pitts banner.
No matter which player you prefer, everyone wants the Bengals to continue adding to their offensive line. And the Bengals should have an easy time doing that in the draft.
Bengals director of pro scouting Steven Radicevic went on Locked on Bengals podcast recently and commented on the quality of depth the class of o-linemen is this year. Radicevic even compared it to last year’s class of linebackers when Cincinnati was looking to add to that position.
“I think there’s good players [offensive linemen] all throughout [the draft],” Radicevic said. “Guys that would help us out... we’ll see how it shakes out. It’s almost similar to the way the linebacker situation shook out for us last year. There were a couple guys at the top [of free agency] I think people were upset we did not go after, and a lot of those guys ended getting overpaid, and we feel like we got a good one with Logan Wilson... it feels like it worked out at that spot for us.”
Cincinnati definitely went quantity over quality at linebacker last year when they added four new players; three of them via the 2020 draft. Their only veteran addition was Josh Bynes, who only signed on for one year. As of now, the only veteran offensive lineman the Bengals have added this year is Riley Reiff, who also signed a one-year deal.
This does not mean they aren’t interested in using their first-round pick on an o-lineman, but they don’t sound locked in on that position at that juncture.
“I think at that spot [fifth-overall pick] you can take the best player there and really all throughout the draft,” Radicevic continued. “I don’t see a spot where I feel like we need to take this guy or in the second round I feel like we need to target this position. I think Mike [Potts] and Duke [Tobin] and the rest of the guys are going to do a good job that these are the target players in each round and we’ll see how it falls.”
This reads and sounds like team-speak, because it is, but there is truth to it. Taking the best player available is more or less how every team operates. Team needs obviously dictate the board to some degree, but no club wants to feel like they have to target a certain position, especially with the fifth-highest pick in the draft.
There’s more work to do for the Bengals at offensive line, and that work can be accomplished outside of the first round.