CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-11-1)
LAST SEASON: The Bengals showed some life under rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and had some close losses in the first half. But injuries continued to mount and optimism waned even more when Burrow was lost for the season to a knee injury in a defeat against Washington in Week 11. Cincinnati put together a pair of wins on either side of Christmas, including a Monday night upset of the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers. The familiar weaknesses were evident in a rout by the Ravens in the final week.
FREE AGENCY: Lost defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson, receivers A.J. Green and John Ross, cornerbacks William Jackson and Mackensie Alexander, offensive linemen Bobby Hart and B.J. Finney, TE Cethan Carter, K Randy Bullock, RB Giovani Bernard and S Shawn Williams. Signed defensive linemen Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi, cornerbacks Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzi and Eli Apple, OL Riley Reiff and S Ricardo Allen.
THEY NEED: OL, WR, DE.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, CB, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Oregon OT Penei Sewell, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Florida TE Kyle Pitts.
OUTLOOK: With the fifth overall pick, the Bengals are eyeing Sewell, the 2019 Outland Trophy winner. Offensive line is a clear need, and Cincinnati signed 33-year-old free agent tackle Riley Reiff to try to shore it up. If Sewell is gone or the Bengals shift gears, Pitts or Chase could provide another top playmaker for Burrow. The Bengals’ biggest needs — offensive line, receiver and edge rusher — are considered the strongest positions in this year’s draft. Cincinnati could opt for one of the top skill players with the first pick and still find quality offensive linemen available later in the draft, but none the caliber of Sewell.
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