The Bengals suffered by way of an terrible 2019 that noticed longtime starter Andy Dalton get benched (on his birthday!) amidst a two-win season. Cincinnati was unhealthy on either side of the ball, giving up 34+ factors 4 occasions and scoring 34+ factors solely as soon as. Dalton may be launched this offseason with none lasting harm to the Bengals’ wage cap, and his imminent departure ought to set the stage for a large rebuild in southwest Ohio.
That rebuild will absolutely kick into gear at this yr’s draft, which ought to carry reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow to Cincinnati. He gained’t be sufficient to repair this workforce all by himself.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-14), missed playoffs
The Bengals had been so very, very unhealthy in 2019, however their ineptitude got here with a reward: the highest total choose within the upcoming draft.
Earlier than free company:
- Offensive sort out: Cincinnati QBs had been sacked on greater than seven p.c of their dropbacks final fall, the 10th-worth price within the league. Deal with Cordy Glenn may be launched with zero cap repercussions this spring. Bobby Hart, he of the three-year, $16 million contract final offseason, may additionally give solution to an improve. With a brand new quarterback incoming, go safety needs to be the Bengals’ prime precedence on the veteran market.
- Linebacker: Cincinnati gave up 4.7 yards per carry and ranked 28th in Soccer Outsiders’ defensive run effectivity metric. Bringing in a productive tackler who can shed blocks and shoot gaps would add worth to a linebacker group that solely had seven non-sack tackles for loss in 2019.
- Quarterback: This isn’t a lot a necessity in free company as it’s within the draft, however Cincinnati may make use of a veteran backup to assist information presumptive prime choose Joe Burrow by way of his rookie yr.
What Cincy Jungle needs most this offseason: The Bengals have to do every part of their energy to make sure Burrow is about up for fulfillment as quickly as he arrives in Cincinnati. The offensive line wants a number of upgrades, primarily at proper sort out. Additionally they have to get A.J. Inexperienced re-signed (carried out) and discover a tight finish that Burrow can depend on (a lot much less carried out). Defensively, the Bengals should add an affect linebacker, ideally one in free company who’s able to make an on the spot affect and fill a gaping gap that’s been there for a number of years now. — Jason Marcum
After free company:
The Bengals had been lively on the open market. Signees D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, and Vonn Bell may assist speed up their return to the postseason. Whereas Reader ought to shine on the line of defense, Waynes, Bell, and Mackensie Alexander will attempt to overhaul the secondary.
- Offensive line: The workforce’s solely free agent signing alongside the offensive line was guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. That’s a pleasant begin, however Cincinnati must benefit from a deep properly of younger tackles at this yr’s draft.
- Linebacker: Cincinnati received higher up entrance and within the secondary this spring, however there are nonetheless gaping holes to fill in between these two spots.
- Quarterback: It’ll be Burrow, however the Bengals nonetheless want to determine if Andy Dalton can be shipped out of city or stay on the roster as a $17 million backup.
After the draft:
The Bengals by no means wavered on Burrow, and so they even received him an enormous goal with their subsequent choice, taking Clemson receiver Tee Higgins within the second spherical. Nonetheless, their solely offensive line pickup was Kansas OT Hakeem Adeniji within the sixth spherical.
Cincinnati waited till the third spherical to deal with the linebacker spot with Wyoming’s Logan Wilson, who has the potential to begin straight away. Additionally they added two extra linebackers, Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither (fourth spherical) and Purdue’s Markus Bailey (seventh), who may present good worth.
Dan Kadar’s draft grade: A-