For the first time in franchise history, the Bengals have qualified for the postseason in consecutive non-strike seasons. But they still haven’t won a playoff game since the week before they destroyed Bo Jackson’s hip. To get to the next level, the Bengals need to make good use of their draft picks by addressing certain specific needs.
Right tackle: With Andre Smith still unsigned, buzz is building that the Bengals will move on from Smith and draft a new right tackle. That may be posturing by the Bengals. Regardless, until Smith is signed, they have a clear need at the position.
Running back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis played in 2011 and 2012 with teams possessing high-powered passing attackes. And yet he still can’t average at least four yards per carry. (He ran for 3.7 yards two seasons ago in New England and 3.9 during his first year in Cincinnati.) The Bengals would benefit from a tailback who can take advantage of all the attention paid to wideout A.J. Green.
Defensive end: Michael Johnson received the franchise tag from the Bengals before the market plunged. If Johnson hadn’t signed the tender offer, the Bengals quite possibly would have rescinded it. Come next year, then, Johnson most likely will hit the open market, and the Bengals will need to replace him. The sooner they start planning for that, the better off they’ll be.
Safety: If 2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick can stay healthy, the cornerback position will be in good shape. The safety position could use an infusion of young talent. The Bengals have been linked to Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro at No. 21, which would seem to make sense, if he’s still there when the Bengals pick. (Actually, they possibly could be able to trade down and still get him, but owner Mike Brown typically doesn’t like to play that game.)
Receiver: Mohamed Sanu emerged as a solid complement to A.J. Green last year, but depth at the position continues to be a concern. If the Bengals could find in the middle rounds another talented youngster, they could be set at the position for years to come.