The Bengals lost a lot of talent last offseason, and while the hope was that younger players would step up and fill roster holes after the team didn't do much in free agency, the house of cards instead collapsed, leaving the Bengals with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2007-8. They appeared to find a few long-term pieces in last year's draft but got nothing from top-10 pick John Ross. Now, they might have another top-10 pick to play with in 2018. How will they approach the offseason? Let's dive into it.
2018 draft picks
- Round 1: Cincinnati
- Round 2: Cincinnati
- Round 3: Cincinnati
- Round 4: Cincinnati
- Round 5: Cincinnati
- Round 6: Cincinnati
- Round 7: New England
The Bengals may enter the offseason with their original draft picks in the first six rounds. They traded Marquis Flowers to the Patriots before the season, picking up a seventh-round draft pick in exchange. But they also flipped their original seventh-rounder to Jacksonville conditionally for Chris Smith, which they'll lose with Smith making their roster.
Biggest offseason needs
- Tight end
- Offensive linemen
- More offensive linemen
The Bengals have the option of making a QB switch this offseason, as they'll be picking high in the draft and can save nearly $14 million on the cap by cutting Andy Dalton. Unlikely, sure, but crazier things have happened. If Dalton returns and aside from finding a healthier replacement for Tyler Eifert, all of the team's energy should be on rebuilding an offensive line that has been completely dominated most of the season. Clint Boling is a worthy keeper at left guard, but better starters must be found at every other spot.
On defense, the Bengals' needs will depend on which big contracts they move on from. The team can clear the entire 2018 contracts of players like Carlos Dunlap, Darqueze Dennard and Brandon LaFell, but all have contributed enough to be worth their deals. At the very least, expect the team to chase an upgrade at linebacker and an Adam Jones replacement in the secondary.
Prospects to watch
In 2013, the Bengals went with the "safe" selection of Tyler Eifert in Round 1, and despite his rash of injuries, that pick worked out well. When he was on the field, Eifert was one of the game's most efficient touchdown-creators. Andrews isn't the same prospect as Eifert, yet there are similarities in their size, athleticism, and strong hands.
Nelson will immediately improve the run game of whichever team drafts him. Unsurprisingly, without Kevin Zeitler this season, the Bengals' run game has struggled.
Rankin isn't the size specimen Cincinnati has targeted in the draft, but he's as fundamentally sound as they come and could play left tackle, right tackle or even inside at guard. The only ding on Rankin as a prospect is his lack of elite left-tackle size.
Indiana won't play in a bowl game, but Scales is still a linebacker Bengals fans should monitor during the predraft process. He's a springy outside linebacker who thrives against the run due to his quickness and tenacity getting off blocks. His physical traits lend to promising upside as a coverage linebacker.
Rashard Fant, CB, Indiana
Fant is the lesser version of Ohio State's Denzel Ward, who'll likely be picked in the first round. At 5-foot-9, and around 180 pounds, Fant won't be a boundary corner in the NFL, but his twitchy style of play and ball skills could make him a fun slot cornerback.