How free agency alters the Cincinnati Bengals draft board

  • 2020 Free Agency
  • 2020 NFL Draft
  • Cincinnati Bengals
By Kyle Smith March 23, 2020 0 Comment
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The Cincinnati Bengals finally delivered on the hopes of an active offseason, and its effect will be seen as they finalize their draft board.

From Ian Rapoport to Duke Tobin, director of player personnel, fans were given hope of the Cincinnati Bengals finally preparing to upgrade their roster. Cincinnati fans were sent into a frenzy after the first day, and a half of free agency went without business. Barring placing the A.J. Green franchise tag. Tuesday afternoon, however, panic turned to happiness as the front office stuck to their promise and began singing multiple free agents to over $100 million in total money. Emptying their wallet effects the Bengals’ draft board in a positive light as they build toward the future.

Active Free Agency

Cincinnati signed five total players in the first week of free agency. The Bengals made their first splash signing in D.J. Reader, a defensive tackle from Houston. Minutes later, it was announced that they also agreed to a contract with Trae Waynes, cornerback from the Minnesota Vikings. Over the next two days, the Bengals would add guard Xavier Su’a Filo, cornerback Mackensie Alexander, and wide receiver Mike Thomas. In an aging roster lacking competitive talent, these additions were welcomed whole-heartedly across the fan base.

Dormancy Led to Complacency in the Draft

Over the past few seasons, the Bengals have been dormant in the offseason. Cincinnati’s lack of spending forced their hand into drafting for need rather than positional value or talent. John Ross was drafted 9th overall after Cincinnati failed to find respectable replacements for Marvin Jones Jr. and Mohamed Sanu. Billy Price was an unfortunate oversight of positional value and need when he was picked 21st in 2018, only to be replaced by Trey Hopkins a year later. Last season the Bengals drafted Drew Sample in the second round due to Tyler Eifert‘s inability to stay healthy. By finally addressing many defensive needs, Cincinnati set up their roster to allow a “best-player-available” mentality.

Drafting for Talent, Not Need

It is the worst kept secret in football that the Cincinnati Bengals are going to draft Heisman winner Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. 32 picks later, they kick off the start of round two. The Bengals were not able to sign a top-tier linebacker, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the field. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the top linebackers, Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen are projected to go in the first round. On the other hand, exceptional players such as Zack Baun, Grant Delpit, Jeff Gladney, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, Xavier McKinney, or Jalen Reagor could be available and should be drafted regardless of need.

The Bengals have the opportunity to turn their team around. Instead of forcing an early pick due to need, they can draft using the best-player-available mentality by simpling picking the top player on their draft board.

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