Needs: The Bengals have had back-to-back offseasons in which they lost more than they gained. This has caused the roster to lack talent and it’s in need of an infusion of youth and explosiveness. That has to come on both sides of the ball, including the offensive line and defensive line.
Additionally, the Bengals could use a No. 2 receiver as well as a running back to take the place of Jeremy Hill, who struggled mightily in 2016.
Picks: First round (9), second round (41), third round (73), fourth round (116,138), fifth round (153, 176), sixth round (193, 217), seventh round (227, 251).
David KohlDavid Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Barnett, DE, Bengals
The Bengals’ pass rush was underwhelming last season despite having Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap on the edge. They had just 33 sacks as a team, which was 19th in the NFL. Barnett is arguably the second-best pass rusher behind Myles Garrett, which is big praise. He fits perfectly as a 4-3 defensive end and would provide a spark to Cincinnati’s defensive line.
No. 9 is a sweet spot for Barnett because he’s not quite a blue-chip talent worthy of a top-five pick, but seeing him fall outside of the top 15 would be surprising. The Bengals are an ideal situation for him.
John Ross, WR, Washington
The Bengals already have one dominant receiver in A.J. Green, who also serves as their deep threat with Marvin Lewis gone. He’s obviously a tremendous talent, but he needs help on the other side. Ross would bring a different skill set than that of Green, forcing defenders to account for his speed whenever he’s on the field.
It would open up things for Green and Tyler Eifert in the middle of the field, which would in turn help Andy Dalton. He should be in consideration for the No. 9 pick.
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Robinson was once viewed as a lock for the first round, but that’s no longer the case. It’s unclear if he’ll be a guard or tackle in the NFL, and that’s fine. The Bengals have needs at both positions, so they can afford to try him out at both spots to see where he fits best.
More likely than not, he’ll end up at guard, similar to the way Kelechi Osemele and La’el Collins have after playing tackle in college. He could provide good value in the second round.
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
The Bengals have showed significant interest in Mixon, meeting with him at his pro day and having him in for a private workout. The Bengals could use an infusion of talent at running back with Jeremy Hill struggling last season, and Mixon would bring exactly that.
The Bengals have showed that they’re willing to take chances on players with character concerns, doing so with Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones most recently. Mixon has a lot of work to do off the field and has to prove this was an isolated incident, but landing with Marvin Jones may be good for him.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Vontaze Burfict is a downhill player who loves to hit. Unfortunately, he’s not great in coverage. Foster is a big hitter like Burfict, but his range in coverage is far superior. He can take over for Burfict as the team’s weak-side linebacker at some point while getting in snaps as the middle linebacker and on sub-packages.
There are concerns about his medical history, including his shoulder. That could cause his draft stock to slide, but a trade down would be risky for the Bengals if they attempted one. He may not last past 15, or even get to No. 9 at all.