Who Will The Bengals Take In The 2019 Draft?
In recent years, the Cincinnati Bengals have been an up-and-down football team. This off season, they are already taking the shape of a different football team. Head coach Marvin Lewis was fired after 15 seasons in Cincinnati, and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Zac Taylor was hired to replace him in February. There is new potential for this football team as Taylor has led one of the top offenses in the NFL for the past two years. The team has scored an average of 20 points a game over the past three years, and has been one of the least productive in the NFL. This does not mean that the defense has been stellar, as NFL.com states, “Taylor is going to have to find playmakers on that side of the ball...”
The main presumption is that the Bengals will be looking to improve the defense, especially since the team released 2014 Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict. That loss at linebacker could make All-Big 10 LB Devin Bush from Michigan a wise choice, but he and LSU’s Devin White are first round talent and would not be available past that point.
While All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins remains an elite pass rusher, the front four still struggled in 2018. To play aside Atkins, a good pick would be Houston’s Ed Oliver, who is arguably the best lineman in this draft class, besides Alabama’s Quinnen Williams. One of the main problems that teams have with Oliver is that he is seen as undersized to play defensive tackle in the NFL. The average weight for a defensive lineman in the NFL is over 300 lbs., while Oliver weighs 286. If the Bengals decide to take a defensive end to play opposite 2x Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap, Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Michigan’s Rashan Gary are two good choices, since Ohio State’s Nick Bosa will probably go in the top 5.
Even though the Bengals recently re-signed CB Darqueze Dennard, the defense allowed 275 passing yards a game in 2018. If the Bengals want to improve that group, All-American Julian Love from Notre Dame would be a big move, since he was one of the top cover corners in college football last year. It would be interesting if the Bengals decided to take a safety, but if they did, they would try to get Delaware’s Nasir Adderley. Watching what he did in the Senior Bowl, most NFL scouts would tell you that this kid is ready for pro football. He is the cousin of Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, who was a defensive star in the 60’s and 70’s, as he won 3 Super Bowl titles with Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers and Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys.
While the defense was one of the worst in the league, the offense didn’t fare much better. While we did see an increase in production from running back Joe Mixon, he was one of the few bright spots the Bengals had offensively. The team lost their three best offensive players over the course of the season. It started when Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert broke his ankle in a win over the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Andy Dalton suffered torn ligaments in his thumb during a devastating home loss to the New Orleans Saints. Lastly, Pro Bowl wide receiver AJ Green was in and out due to a toe injury during the second half of the season.
There are a few interesting scenarios that could play out here. One is that the Bengals could take a QB as a potential replacement to Dalton. If the team wants to make a playoff push, Dalton might not be the right guy, since he is 0-4 in the playoffs and has only thrown 1 touchdown to 6 interceptions in those playoff games. If the Bengals decide to take a QB, West Virginia’s Will Grier would be the best choice, since some of the top choices such as Drew Lock from Missouri and Duke’s Daniel Jones probably won’t be available by the 11th pick. Also, Grier is probably the best pocket passer in this draft class outside of Ohio State standout signal caller Dwayne Haskins.
The main issue on offense is that Eifert is often injured and has not yet plated a full season in his 6 years with the Bengals since being drafted out of Notre Dame back in 2013. Another problem is that the Bengals had one of the worst offensive line groups in the NFL. With the departure of All-Pro Andrew Whitworth to Los Angeles, the O-Line suffered while allowing 37 sacks in 2018. This makes it logical to draft a lineman such as Florida’s Jawaan Taylor or Alex Bars from Notre Dame.
Although the Bengals have struggled at most positions in the recent years, there is a sense of renewal with the complete rebuilding of the franchise during this offseason. Whether or not the team improves on the field this year is still up in the air, but they can be a new feeling of pride to be a Bengal this season as there are so many new faces pointing towards a potentially bright future.
With the 11th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals will select, Rashan Gary, defensive tackle from Michigan.