The 2016 NFL Draft has been lurking around corners and hiding out long enough. Now, with the boldness of a draw play on fourth-and-fifteen, the time has come. Mock draft scenarios have been done by everyone that claims a football pedigree. The Cincinnati Bengals will be ready with their war room selections. Head coach Marvin Lewis and the rest of the Bengals brass will be ready to surprise and delight both fans and analysts.
The Bengals have been able to field a winning franchise since 2009. Six consecutive playoff berths is a major accomplishment. Unlike the days of the Lost Decade, Lewis has been able to build teams that are consistently looked upon as competitive. With the exception of a few free agents, those teams have been built through scouting and the draft.
Cincinnati has become a model for NFL franchises to follow. Gone are the days of single digit wins and fans wearing paper bags over their heads. Bengals faithful are in expectation mode. There are more than a few analysts predicting great things from the team in Cincinnati.
The draft history of the Bengals says something quite different. Bengals brass has a tendency to snatch the highest graded player. That habit has led to landing both big talent and a few names that aren’t easily recalled. Cincinnati has learned from the mistakes of the past, given the success of the last six years.
Cincinnati’s director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, spoke about what the Bengals could possibly do with that first pick. Per the Cincinnati Bengals, he explained part of the process involved.
“I think there are a lot of people that spend more time worried about making deals than they do picking the right player.”
Tobin went on to discuss the mechanics of “dealing” versus having complete knowledge of the selection.
“I don’t necessarily view deals as a smart way to do it. Sometimes it’s necessary. But I think there are a lot of people that view making deals as clever or ahead of the curve when a lot of times it’s just noise. If you have extra picks and you feel the need to move up it certainly gives you a better chance to do it. Should they do that, good for them.”
Trading up is very rare, for Bengals brass. Even during the reign of Paul Brown, the Bengals have done it just three times. Looking at the caliber of players selected, it seems the Bengals would prefer to move down rather than up.
Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins are Pro Bowl players. Both were selected in the later rounds of the draft. Had the Bengals traded up, those would be spectacular players on other teams. Fan favorites Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard were also taken late.
Recognizing the holes on the defensive line will definitely be a priority. Losing defensive end Wallace Gilberry is more important than some Bengals fans realize. Margus Hunt and Will Clarke may be capable subs, but they have yet to prove what they can really do. If Dunlap or Michael Johnson goes down during the season, those are the immediate options.
As long as the Bengals address their priorities, draft experts should be relatively content. But as the later rounds approach, it gets harder to define what the Bengals will do.
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]