The Bengals have one pick in each round in next week’s draft, plus compensatory selections in the final two rounds. The Bengals have mostly stayed put in recent drafts, exercising their picks and not moving around the board. In the last 10 years, they have made just two deals during the draft, moving back in Round One in 2004 and again in 2012.
Here’s a look at the Bengals’ top areas of need entering the 2014 draft:
Cornerback: The Bengals need reinforcements here. Their top corner, Leon Hall, is coming back from his second ruptured left Achilles tendon in the last three seasons. Also, key corners Terence Newman (36 in September) and Adam Jones (31 in September) are closer to the end than the beginning of their pro careers. Ideally, the Bengals will draft at least one cornerback capable of contributing in “sub” packages in 2014 and pushing for a bigger role in years to come.
Offensive line: The Bengals could go in a number of directions at this position. With starting left guard Clint Boling in the final year of his contract and recovering from a December ACL tear, bolstering the depth chart at guard could be in the cards. On the other hand, if the Bengals drafted a left tackle capable of starting right off the bat, they could conceivably move Andrew Whitworth inside. Also, the Bengals will need a new starting center after releasing Kyle Cook.
Defensive end: Michael Johnson’s departure leaves the Bengals to replace a key member of their defensive line. In addition to being one of the club’s top pass rushers, Johnson was dependable and durable, missing just one game in five seasons. Robert Geathers, who missed most of last season with an elbow injury, will return to pick up some of the slack, but the club could use one more pass rusher in their defensive line rotation.
Quarterback: Starter Andy Dalton has yet to miss a game in three NFL seasons and has thrown 80 touchdowns compared to 49 interceptions. However, he has struggled in all three of his playoff starts, all Cincinnati defeats. Also, he enters the final year of his contract. The Bengals’ new top backup, Jason Campbell, has familiarity with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s scheme and can get a team through a few games, but he’s not going to push Dalton. If the Bengals want to give Dalton some competition, it’s going to come via the draft.
Wide receiver: Is this a pressing need? No. However, with wide receiver one of the stronger positions in the 2014 draft, it would not be illogical for the Bengals to add a young pass catcher. When clubs can take away top receiver A.J. Green, the Bengals’ passing game can be vulnerable.