- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Bengals should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Two weeks ahead of the NFL draft, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Box Defender
Linebackers Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans and especially Preston Brown are as average as the day is long. Strong safety Shawn Williams is coming off a year of highs and lows; he regularly got near the ball in coverage but did not always tackle with aggression or aplomb. In the very least, the Bengals could use depth at his box safety position. Overall, the second level of this defense is too mediocre to consistently make big plays in what’s expected to be an execution-based scheme. New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is unknown as a play-caller but is most familiar from his days serving as coordinator Kevin Coyle’s secondary coach in Miami. (It should be noted that Coyle was the secondary coach in Cincy from 2016-17.) If Anarumo employs Coyle’s foundation, the Bengals will play mostly traditional coverages. That requires defenders who make plays in the middle of the field.
Hidden Need: Quarterback
New head coach Zac Taylor might be genuine in his praise of Andy Dalton. Indeed, Dalton’s sharp pre-snap IQ and comfort on timing-based throws between the field numbers make him a strong stylistic fit in Taylor’s scheme, which is expected to be similar to that of Taylor’s previous boss, Sean McVay. That said... after eight seasons, Dalton remains inconsistent in muddy pockets, which is why he’s been inconsistent overall. That puts a ceiling on what he can do. With that ceiling, we’ve seen that a team can get to the wild-card round, but not further. If a QB the Bengals love is still on the board, they should take the plunge.
Also Looking For: Offensive Line Depth
The starting five spots are adequate (though, at guard, just barely), but this O-line is one falling domino away from having problems.
Who They Can Get
At 11, it’s more likely to be a linebacker than a safety. LSU’s Devin White is a legitimate top-10 prospect, and Michigan’s Devin Bush isn’t far behind, but it’s a top-heavy LB class with a fall-off after those two. (Conversely, there’s depth at safety but no top-10 talent.) If it’s a quarterback, there’s a real chance Missouri’s Drew Lock and/or Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins will still be on the board (if nothing else, Haskins should appeal to Brown due to the savings on travel expenses).
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