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2016 Senior Bowl: Players to watch with Bengals' perceived needs in mind

One of the major NFL scouting events is Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and we're reviewing some of the players Bengals fans should be paying attention to in the contest.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL offseason officially nears, teams, other than the Panthers and Broncos who are facing off in Super Bowl 50, are shifting their main focus to the 2016 NFL Draft and the draftable prospects. The Combine, pro days and bowl games are all part of the pre-draft process, and the Senior Bowl is the next major event coming down the pike.

Even though the Cincinnati Bengals have a deep roster, there are places they are undoubtedly looking to improve upon. The Senior Bowl is a great place for them to start looking, as there are a bunch of talented up-and-comers to scout. And, if you thought the Bengals used the NFLPA Bowl last year to fill their roster and Practice Squad, they definitely love using the Senior Bowl as a scouting method.

That being said, here are some of the more intriguing players to watch this week, given their enigmatic nature and the Bengals' needs.

Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State: A lot of Bengals fans are quite familiar with Miller, given dual allegiances to Cincinnati and the Buckeyes, but it's unclear how well he'll translate to the pros. Miller was a team player and begrudgingly made the transition from star quarterback to athletic wide receiver. He has good size for the position at 6'2" and 215 pounds, but inexperience and a relative lack of stats in 2015 raise questions. Miller finished 2015 with 26 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with 42 rushes for 260 yards and another score. If Miller can show scouts he has fine-tuned some of the nuances of the position, it would be a big boost to his draft stock and the Bengals might be looking at wide receiver with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu set to hit free agency.

Cody Kessler, QB, USC: While the Bengals seem set at quarterback, think back to the end of the year. Andy Dalton went down with a fractured thumb, while AJ McCarron had a sprained wrist and left the Bengals with just Keith Wenning as a backup. Kessler is a productive, accurate quarterback who Todd McShay compared to Dalton this season. What he lacks in height (just 6'1"), Kessler makes up with character, leadership and productivity in a tumultuous USC atmosphere. The big questions surrounding Kessler is his ability and willingness to push the ball deep downfield. If he can do that with the same accuracy he has shown in every other throw, it will help him when April comes around.

Kyle Murphy, OL, Stanford: The Bengals used their top two picks on offensive linemen last year, but two tackles are set to hit free agency in Andre Smith and Eric Winston. Murphy is a true road grader and likely translates to a right tackle or guard in the NFL. He's massive at 6'7", 301 pounds (making tackle more likely) and was part of an offensive line that dominated the Pac-12 during the past few years. If he can flash a bit more in pass protection, it will help his stock, which is already relatively high. Fun fact: Murphy is my second cousin, so I'm personally hoping for a good week for him.

Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama: Between Emmanuel Lamur and Vincent Rey set to hit free agency and Vontaze Burfict looking at a three-game suspension, the Bengals will likely be looking at the linebacker position pretty high in the draft. Ragland is one of the best in the class and recently said he's on a mission to prove he can hold up in pass coverage, making him a true three-down linebacker in the NFL. Ragland isn't quite the big-play linebacker C.J. Mosley is/was, but he did win SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and was a first team All-American. He can't do much to hurt his stock this week, but he can propel himself up boards quite a bit if he flashes.

Evan Boehm, C, Missouri: A tip of the cap to my colleague Cody Tewmey who began talking this guy up recently. The Bengals are stubborn when it comes to admitting a mistake with a starter, but the center position is one they could look to upgrade this year. Boehm is big (6'3", 320 pounds), mean and durable, as evidenced by his 52 consecutive starts. Sometimes it's hard to really point out centers when scouting, but we have a feeling Boehm will shoot off the tape this week.

Aaron Green, RB, TCU: Hue Jackson snagged away Terrell Watson, while the Bills signed James Wilder, Jr. over the past couple of weeks, taking away the Bengals' two practice squad running backs. Green is a mid-to-late round pick who likely is a final roster candidate unlike Watson and Wilder, but with some questions surrounding Jeremy Hill this offseason, the Bengals might look at another talented back. Green had 1,272 rushing yards last year and had five receiving touchdowns in his Horned Frogs career. It's hard to see the Bengals looking to replace the newly-minted Pro Bowler, Cedric Peerman, or the versatile Rex Burkhead, but competition breeds excellence, right?

Here's how to watch the Senior Bowl:

WHAT: Senior Bowl
DATE: Saturday, January 30, 2016
TIME: 2:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: Mobile, Alabama
STADIUM: Ladd-Peebles Stadium
ROSTER: North teamSouth team