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Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: AFC North

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: April 18, 2020, 1:29 pm ET

The Rotoworld Football crew’s Ian Hartitz, Nick Mensio, John Daigle and Hayden Winks are breaking down every team's biggest needs, division by division, and Josh Norris offers potential solutions in this month's NFL Draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

Cincinnati Bengals

Notable Offseason Additions: WR Mike Thomas, OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, NT D.J. Reader, LB Josh Bynes, CB Trae Waynes, CB Mackensie Alexander, CB LeShaun Sims, S Vonn Bell

Starting Offense

QB: Andy Dalton
RB: Joe Mixon
WR1: A.J. Green
WR2: Tyler Boyd
WR3: John Ross
TE: C.J. Uzomah
LT: Jonah Williams
LG: Michael Jordan
C: Trey Hopkins
RG: Xavier Su’a-Filo
RT: Bobby Hart

Starting Defense

LE: Carlos Dunlap
RE: Sam Hubbard
DT: Geno Atkins
NT: D.J. Reader
WLB: Shawn Williams
MLB: Josh Bynes
SLB: Germaine Pratt
CB: Trae Waynes
CB: William Jackson
SCB: Mackensie Alexander
S: Vonn Bell
S: Jessie Bates

Team Needs

Quarterback: The rebuilding Bengals are going to take Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s draft, which they hope will solve the quarterback spot for many years to come. Andy Dalton will likely be traded or released, and Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala are lined up as the backups. Finley was dreadful in his midseason starts last year. Cincy could use a veteran No 2, so maybe they’ll even keep Dalton around for the final year of his deal as a mentor.

Offensive Line: The Bengals have needs all over the field. Their offensive line was 29th in adjusted line yards created in the ground game and 21st in adjusted sack rate as pass blockers. Last year’s first-round pick LT Jonah Williams will be back after missing his entire rookie season to shoulder surgery, and C Trey Hopkins inked a fresh three-year extension in December. Cincinnati has questions at both guard spots and could seriously use an upgrade on RT Bobby Hart. 2018 first-rounder Billy Price was drafted as a center but played guard under first-year coach Zac Taylor and is no lock to return in 2020 after grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 80 guard out of 82 qualifiers. He wasn’t drafted by this coaching staff. Michael Jordan wasn’t much better as PFF’s No. 78 guard last year as a fourth-round rookie. Hart was the No. 70 tackle out of 81 qualifiers. Xavier Su’a-Filo is only being paid $3 million per year on average. He’s no lock to start and shouldn’t be viewed as any sort of blockade to an incoming rookie.

Tight End: Tyler Eifert left for the Jaguars as a free agent, signing a two-year deal. C.J. Uzomah is fine as a starter and has shown flashes in the past, and Drew Sample is heading into Year 2 after being taken in the second round last April. Maybe this isn’t that pressing of a need, but it can’t hurt to surround presumed No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow with as much talent possible.


Bengals’ Draft Picks

Norris’ Options

1 (1). QB Joe Burrow, LSU - The correct pick. Burrow possesses great anticipation and is comfortable working off primary and secondary reads. Despite playing on an uber-talented team, Burrow still was forced to play off script and out of structure quite often, and he seemed to rise to the occasion every single time. Burrow finds comfort in chaos. He has the confidence and mentality to carry his team in moments when they should fail. That is a personality trait, and even quarterbacks with all of the skills don’t have it.

2 (33). LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma - The Bengals have lacked athletes at linebacker for years. Murray has a projected athletic profile in the 94th percentile and is an absolute nightmare moving forward, absolutely destroying play concepts in front of him. That would be useful against the Ravens, Browns and Steelers.

3 (65). WR Devin Duvernay, Texas - If all three receivers stay healthy for the Bengals, it’s a group you can absolutely win with. The issue is both A.J. Green and John Ross have missed extended time in recent years. Duvernay is an exciting downfield playmaker, especially out of the slot where he spent the majority of his time last season.

4 (107). G Jonah Jackson, Ohio State - The Bengals certainly like drafting Ohio State blockers, even if the results have been mixed. Jackson is a favorite of PFF’s Mike Renner as he constantly accomplishes his assignment despite lacking ideal measurements and athleticism.

5 (147). TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA - With Eifert gone, the team could use a playmaker at tight end. Asiasi is super comfortable with the ball in his hands with creating yards on his own and has a chance to make plays down the seam in the NFL.

6 (180). CB Lamar Jackson, Nebraska - A long outside corner who has issues losing early in routes, but has the length and athleticism to recover.

7 (215). RB JaMycal Hasty, Baylor - If the Bengals select a running back in the top three rounds, it likely reveals their thoughts on potentially signing Joe Mixon to a long-term deal. In this case, Hasty is added for depth.

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