The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-8 (4th in their division), and on a 1 game winning streak right now. This, of course, is coming on the heels of another injury to their depleted wide receiver core (this time Tyler Boyd with an MCL sprain). They have already shut down AJ and Andy, and hopefully Jeff Driskel and the merry band of misfits don’y win too many more of their remaining games. Why you may ask?
…well, ’cause they suck, and it seems like it may have finally sunk into Paul Brown’s thick skull during that atrocious three game losing streak. Even though they have no moved up in a lot of mocks I have seen, they are still sitting at that Lucky No. 13 spot in the draft. All the idiot “Draft Experts” are raving at the fact there are so many amazing defensive players, and how “we could see more than a dozen defensive linemen taken before the 20th pick”. While I don’t agree that will be true since a lot of teams need o line and qbs (as always), and more teams may trade up to draft said players. Hell, the Rams need tightends and wide receivers, not defensive tackles or edge rushers.
I digress. Sorry, mock draft “gurus” and “talent” scouts in the mainstream media really grind my gears. I mean, Deandre Ayton is the best rookie in the NBA? Nah, let’s keep it football related, how about you tell me again Mel Kiper how Trent Richardson is the best running back Alabama produced? Or how John Ross should have been drafted fourth and had the most talent out of anyone? Or how it’s a shame that other QBs are getting drafted over Christian Hackenberg?
Yeah, go back to your precious “rankings”.
Okay, enough of the tangent. The mock drafts right now are speculating that the Bengals (with no movement in the draft order) will take a linebacker. While I agree with the pick since the last linebacker taken in the first two rounds by the Bengals was Ray Maualuga back in 2009. So a decade later, it seems that they are conflicting reports on who they would select. Some are saying Mack Wilson (ILB Alabama) would be a good fit. Others (myself included) say that Devin White (ILB LSU) might be a better fit. While I personally hate Alabama and think that their defense/linebackers are overrated this year, I would not be upset. Both linebackers are good, and more than likely may be there. Why? Well, pretty simple…
In the last 10 years, a linebacker has been drafted in the top every year but one (2017 class, #13 pick saw first linebacker taken). Of those nine years, only two have been considered busts. Four years saw the first linebacker taken become an All-Pro (Aldon Smith #4 in ’09, Von Miller #2 in ’11, Luke Kuechly #9 in ’12, Khalil Mack #5 in ’14). The other three linebackers taken? All starting/rotation players on respective teams and still in league (funny fact: four of the last five first-pick linebackers taken in the draft all play on Da Chicago Bears). You may be asking though what this means for the Bengals, since the 2017 class saw a linebacker go #13, and the last 3 years have seen linebackers float around the 8th, 13th, and 9th picks respectively?
Easy, the Bengals need to lose more. I am not saying pull an NBA-level kind of tank, where they bench the starters and only play the backups. They don’t need to do that. I believe that they are more than capable of losing with the players they have currently. The main issue I see is that Marvin might try to coach to save his job. While he (thankfully) has worn out his welcome, he might try and scrap together a decent season so he can try and get another job after this season. That is what scares me: the human desire for safety. He WILL want a new job, so he shall try and prove he can coach up this ragtag group of misfits. I am not saying the Bengals need to lose every game and jump into the top five in the draft. That would be horrible. However, I do believe that management should take a hard-line approach and suggest that this is the course they wish to take.
I agree that they need to take a linebacker. The Burfict experiment needs to end, so a replacement that doesn’t get hurt every other week needs to be acquired. Where the draft “experts” see the glut of defensive line talent as a plus, and see a rush to be made to snag them, I see the opposite. A surplus (based on simple economic principles) means a lower sell point to get rid of said surplus. If you are a team, why would you waste the 6th overall pick to draft the 4th best defensive tackle (I don’t see how Ed Oliver slips there, but those are where some have him landing)? There is no point if the 5th best DT is nearly the same as the 20th best DT. Why waste a pick in the first when you could get someone like him in the second? This is why the Bengals need to start tanking to rise higher. They need a linebacker just as bad as the Giants and Jaguars need new quarterbacks. Hell, if they rise high enough, they could flip that pick to a QB-desperate team, trade down, get more picks, and still get who they want.
But let’s not get into draft strategies. This is solely why they need to tank because…well, they suck lol.