Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Cornerback
Top corner Leon Hall is recovering from his second Achilles' tendon tear in three seasons and costs $6.9 million in salary and bonuses. LCB Terence Newman turns 36 before next season and was unavailable for Cincinnati's final four games due to a knee injury. 30-year-old nickel back Pacman Jones is an average cover man. Dre Kirkpatrick has been a first-round disappointment. The Bengals like plus-sized, physical press corners and may target one as early as the first round.
First day option: Bradley Roby, Ohio State - I know Roby had a dreadful game against Jared Abbrederis and Wisconsin on national television. I know Roby’s 2012 was better than his 2013 tape. But Roby’s year was not as bad as you think. I want him to get more physical on the edge and attacking in space, but he has the speed and mirroring skills to work with receivers in a straight-line and in breaks. Ohio State asked him to sit 6-10 yards off the line of scrimmage on 67 percent of his snaps last year. That is not fair.
Second day possibility: Pierre Desire, Lindenwood - Evan asked for a physical, press corner. Desir offers this despite rarely being tested when he pressed last year. In fact, he showed very well in off coverage and zone situations, passing off inside routes and picking up receivers moving into his area.
Third day flier: Bene Benwikere, San Jose State - Benwikere suffered a head/neck injury this year, but he flashed a lot of slot skill in 2012. The Bengals could use someone comfortable and experience on the inside. Benwikere is projected to go in the sixth- or seventh-round.
Video: Norris on Cincinnati's top need
No. 2 Team Need: Defensive Line
Whether it's an end or tackle, the Bengals need a defensive lineman to bolster their up-front rotation with RE Michael Johnson gone to Tampa and DT Geno Atkins coming off a Week 9 right ACL tear. I tend to believe the Bengals will prioritize upgrading the interior, with 2013 second-rounder Margus Hunt's role growing on the outside. For now, LE Carlos Dunlap is Cincinnati's only threatening edge rusher. Much will depend on how the coaching staff views Hunt's development.
First day option: Kony Ealy, Missouri - I do not value Ealy this highly, but I would love to see the Bengals staff work with him. The tools are there, and Ealy was the only “DL” at the Combine to pass my 3-cone threshold. However, he tends to work around blockers more than through them, and might have even been at his best rushing from the interior. He needs to consistently produce a powerful punch couple with leg drive. Developing hand use is critical.
Second day possibility: Aaron Lynch, USF - This, or with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota, are perfect landing spots for Lynch. The former Notre Dame stud has loads of talent, and was powerful and disruptive in an odd man front during his one season with the Irish. Then, after sitting out a year, Lynch flashes the same quickness, but did not look comfortable on the edge. His pre-draft process has not gone very well, so maybe Lynch could even be had in the third-round. Remember, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap also had questions coming out of school.
Third day flier: Chris Smith, Arkansas - Smith and Lynch could be flipped in this situation. I was not a huge fan of Smith’s style prior to the pre-draft process. He failed to use his hands to create a balance advantage and seemed to win on inside moves when facing heavy footed tackles. He displayed tremendous burst off the ball and a bit of a punch at the Senior Bowl to win on the edge at a fairly consistent rate.
No. 3 Team Need: Quarterback
Andy Dalton's final 2013 stats look pretty on paper, but his talent limitations consistently show up against the NFL's more competitive defenses, and he's now laid an egg in three straight playoffs. New OC Hue Jackson will attempt to mask Dalton's flaws more than outgoing playcaller Jay Gruden did with a run-first offense, and more defined reads and throws. Dalton is entering his contract year and isn't a franchise quarterback. Owner Mike Brown also hinted recently that he's on the fence about extending Dalton. An early- to middle-round quarterback pick is possible.
First day option: I highly doubt a QB is selected in round one, although I would love to see Teddy Bridgewater here.
Second day possibility: Zach Mettenberger, LSU - It was tough to figure out a quarterback, projected on the second day, that offers different traits than Andy Dalton. Mettenberger is one, as he stands in the face of pressure to fire downfield. Again, I think he was in a perfect situation to succeed and does not have a ton of functional mobility, although I think his game obviously suffers when moved off his spot. The rest of his game will have to be sped up, especially mental, due to that lack of mobility.
Third day flier: Brett Smith, Wyoming: Smith is exciting. Think of him as a poor man’s, robotic, Johnny Manziel. Despite not being invited to the Combine, Smith really should be drafted. he is not afraid to test tight coverage or different portions of the field.
Bengals 2014 Draft Picks (9)
First Round (No. 24)
Second Round (No. 55)
Third Round (No. 88)
Fourth Round (No. 123)
Fifth Round (No. 164)
Sixth Round (No. 199)
Sixth Round (No. 212)
Seventh Round (No. 239)
Seventh Round (No. 252)
Bengals Current First-Team Offense
QB: Andy Dalton
RB: Giovani Bernard
WR: A.J. Green
WR: Marvin Jones
TE: Jermaine Gresham
TE: Tyler Eifert
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Clint Boling
C: Mike Pollak
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Andre Smith
Bengals Current First-Team Defense
LE: Carlos Dunlap
RE: Wallace Gilberry
NT: Domata Peko
DT: Geno Atkins
MLB: Rey Maualuga
WLB: Vontaze Burfict
SLB: Emmanuel Lamur
LCB: Terence Newman
RCB: Leon Hall
FS: Reggie Nelson
SS: George Iloka