While the Cincinnati Bengals have been virtual bystanders during the first phase of roster restocking, signing just one external player since free agency began March 12, that likely will not be the case in a little more than three weeks at the NFL Draft.
Already armed with two extra picks resulting from the trades of Carson Palmer (second round, 37th overall) and Chad Johnson (sixth round, 197th), the Bengals received an additional pair of compensatory seventh-round picks (240th and 251st overall) earlier this month at the owners meetings.
They are losing their first pick in the seventh round (227th) as part of the trade with San Francisco that brought Taylor Mays here in 2011. But the Bengals still enter the draft with 10 picks, which if they hold on to them would tie for the second-most in franchise history since the NFL went to the current seven-round format in 1994.
So the question is, what will they do with them? With three picks in the first 53 and four in the top 84, the Bengals have plenty of flexibility. A sampling of mock drafts from various national writers shows the team using its first pick (21st overall) on a wide receiver, tackle, safety, cornerback or linebacker.
A speed running back to complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis is high on team’s list of needs as well, although most experts don’t see any of the available backs as being worthy of a first-round pick.
Following are four positions the Bengals are most likely to address in the early rounds, along with a look at the top players available at each of those positions and their list of strengths and weaknesses.