After missing the NFL Playoffs for the first time since Andy Dalton and AJ Green joined the team, members of the Who Dey Nation are anxious to see what moves the Cincinnati Bengals will make in the off-season, including 2017 NFL Draft prospects they are eyeing at the NFL Combine, positions that could be filled via free agency, and talent they could receive in a trade for backup quarterback AJ McCarron.
While Dalton and Green led the Bengals to five straight NFL Playoff appearances under the guidance of head coach Marvin Lewis from 2011-2015, their third-place finish in the AFC North left them out of this year’s post-season play. The last time that the Cincinnati Bengals won a game in the NFL Playoffs was in 1990. They’ve only made it to the Super Bowl on two occasions, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in both 1981 and 1988.
If Cincinnati wants to return to the NFL Playoffs and make a serious run at the Super Bowl, there are some needs that must be met. They have an obvious sore spot in their pass coverage, but they will have as many as 11 selections in the 2017 NFL Draft to help meet those needs. With several teams in the league still searching for a new starting quarterback, the Bengals have made it very clear that they are accepting offers for AJ McCarron.
Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL Scouting Combine
Thanks to four compensatory picks, the Cincinnati Bengals currently have a total of 11 selections to make in the 2017 NFL Draft. The extra selections, which will be spread out during rounds four through seven, came after the Bengals lost Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Nelson, Marvin Jones, Emmanuel Lamur, and Andre Smith prior to the 2016 season. As the NFL Scouting Combine continues in Indianapolis, Cincinnati’s director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, seemed optimistic, as reported by Cincy Jungle.
“We’ve got 11 draft choices. We’re going to make use of those… The draft is what we use as the lifeblood of our organization so we’re putting a lot of focus in this as we do for the whole scouting season.”
The rules for how the compensatory picks were handed out changed this year. And while Tobin isn’t especially pleased with how things turned out, they will try to make the best of the situation. The exact picks the Bengals currently have by way of the compensatory system includes round four (No. 138 overall), round five (No. 178 overall), round six (No. 219 overall) and round seven (No. 253 overall).
While it’s still too early to make any real guesses at who the Bengals want to grab at the 2017 NFL Draft, Cincy Jungle suggested ten names that Cincinnati fans should be watching during the NFL Scouting Combine. Running back Alvin Kamara (Tennessee), offensive tackle Cam Robinson (Alabama), and kicker Austin Rehkow (Idaho) performed on Friday. On Saturday, tight end David Njoku (Miami) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (Clemson) perform for the scouts. Several defensive ends and linebackers of interest will be around on March 5, while defensive backs Adoree Jackson (USC) and Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) will be there on March 6.
NFL Free Agency & Trading AJ McCarron
While Jimmy Garoppolo (New England Patriots) and Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills) are two of the most talked-about quarterbacks on the market during this NFL off-season, Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron could end up starting for another team this year. As reported by CBS Sports, Tobin told the press that they aren’t actively trying to get rid of McCarron, but are listening to any offers that would prove advantageous.
“We’ll listen to whatever anyone is thinking. We’re not actively looking to diminish our football team by trading AJ McCarron… It has to be something we feel is valuable enough to warrant doing that. What it is, I don’t know. Who it is to, I don’t know. It’s not ideal to trade guys within your division, particularly at that position. But we listen and if something comes up we’ll certainly announce it to all you guys.”
Fans are also waiting for Cincinnati to re-sign tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler, who will officially become free agents next week. And as Stripe Hype noted, the uncertainty of defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones staying in Cincy — and the assumption that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is leaving — are even bigger concerns. There are also guys like running back Rex Burkhead who could end up leaving the team without much fanfare.
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This year’s NFL Scouting Combine began on February 28 in Indianapolis, and will wrap-up on March 6. NFL Free Agency officially begins on March 9 at 4 p.m. EST. The 2017 NFL Draft will take place over three days, April 27-29, at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The 2017 NFL Season begins on September 7.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]