The 2015 NFL Draft is less than a week away. Anticipation builds within fan bases. Pressure mounts inside each team’s war room. And the moment creeps at a pace rapid, but stagnant at the same time, for the soon-to-be NFL players and their families.
Which team will make a big move? Who gets the steal? Who drafts the bust? Which move will lead to a Super Bowl?
These questions will begin to tick away as the careers progress of the future stars. But it all begins Thursday when the first of 256 players will find out who they begin their career with.
It’s likely that only a handful will make the Hall of Game. Only a few dozen will become mainstays on NFL rosters. Most will be out of the league in several years, on to different careers.
But for all 256, hearing their name called on stage, echoed on ESPN and NFL Network. Celebrating with their family and friends, and getting that call from an NFL head coach has been a dream since they first touched the pigskin.
For the teams: this is a day of hope, bright futures, better days. For some, it may mean getting that final piece to complete the playoff puzzle. For others, the hope will fade after a player does not make the progression, and it will be back to the big boards for in 2016.
The NFL Draft is upon us.
The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs each of the last four seasons, only to lose in the first round.
But that is not happening.
The Bengals recently gave Lewis an extension through the 2016 season. Dalton was re-signed to a deal last offseason. Even though both could still be sent packing at year’s end, I would not place a large sum of money on that outcome.
With that in mind, the Bengals have been quietly aggressive in building around Dalton and his weaknesses.
They went out and made an undervalued re-sign of Clint Boling in the offseason. They have supplied him with a potential top-tier running back in Jeremy Hill and an above-average No. 2 in Giovani Bernard. He has one of the top five receivers in the league with A.J. Green. And Dalton is backed up by one of the top defenses in the NFL, despite all of the injuries.
There are a few spots to take notice of, however.
That brings us to our first need. Another tight end.
The Bengals will not go after a tight end on day one or even day two most likely. But expect Lewis and company to target a late-round guy to try and progress him.
Another potential weakness, if not this season then next, is the offensive line.
So the Bengals could go offensive line more than once in the draft, including an early selection if there is a fit.
With an expensive free agency year upcoming the Bengals expect to lose a few players. Safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson are playing for contracts. Accompanying them are fellow defensive backs Adam Jones, Leon Hall, and Dre Kirkpatrick.
The Bengals are in need of secondary help, again maybe not this year but next, so look for them to attack the DB position at least one time in the draft with next season in mind.
The Bengals are always in the market for pass rushers and anyone that can help the depth of the front eight. So there is always a chance of them drafting a linebacker or defense lineman.
It is not necessarily a glaring hole, but with Geno Atkins still recovering from an ACL tear and Domata Peko being the second-worst defensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus, they could use interior help.
They also do not know what to expect from free-agent signee Michael Johnson after an abysmal season in Tampa Bay.
A defensive end/outside linebacker type of guy would fit well. He can work select downs and will not be expected to play right away. This is an area always to be on alert for when the Bengals are on the clock.
The Bengals could also go for a wide receiver, someone that can step into a legitimate number two role. With Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu getting ample opportunity, they have not shown for certain they can consistently fill that role. This is a position that, when healthy, is above average, but it could be improved upon to help Dalton out.
The draft strategy got a whole lot more simple for the Bengals when they signed Michael Johnson. That fulfilled the team’s only major need for 2015. What that enables them to do early is taking the best on the board. They could go any number of directions on night one depending on how things play out.
Several scenarios to watch out for:
If an elite receiver falls, it would not be a surprise to see them jump at the opportunity. Any of the receivers fit that, and Dorial Green-Beckham out of Oklahoma has even been rumored to slide into that spot. (I think he is a reach in round one.)
If a pass rusher that they desire, think Alvin “Bud” Dupree, is at No. 21 they would be ecstatic.
They could go offensive line if the sexy picks are gone.
The secondary could get an upgrade at any spot (corner or safety).
My ideal situation would have University of Kentucky product Alvin Dupree falling to No. 21. I envision someone swiping him early. If they skip on him in the first 20 picks, he is a steal at No. 21.
I see the Bengals getting a defensive end or outside linebacker, wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive tackle, tight end, safety, and corner for sure. They’ll double up on several of those positions I would expect.
As for the quarterback spot, maybe a late-round pick? A.J. McCarron being injured last season leaves some question marks, but for you Dalton haters, get on his bandwagon. Andy Dalton will remain at QB for the foreseeable future.
The 2015 NFL Draft begins Thursday and for the Bengals, the 2015 playoff push has already begun.