When it comes to draft philosophy, the Cincinnati Bengals are pretty consistent.
If there is a quality offensive lineman or defensive back available when they are on the clock in the first round, they usually go in that direction.
In fact, that has happened 11 times since 2003.
With the Bengals having the 28th overall pick in the first round, it wouldn’t be a surprise if director of player personnel Duke Tobin and coach Zac Taylor look to those areas again.
While Cincinnati looks relatively set with its starting group on both sides of the ball, depth issues remain in a couple of areas.
Cincinnati also might be looking down the line when approaching this year’s draft.
Disgruntled offensive tackle Jonah Williams, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and defensive tackle D.J. Reader are going into the final year of their contracts.
Taylor, who will be taking part in his fifth draft with the Bengals, remains a huge supporter of Tobin.
“We’re always looking to maximize our draft picks, but I think that’s where we’ve got such an advantage with Duke and our scouting department with the experience that he’s got just being in Cincinnati and understanding the draft classes coming in,” Taylor said.
“He does a great job giving our coaches a head start on what they need to know and how they can help in the process and drafted some really good character players that have high upside and we’ve got to continue to do that as we move forward.”
While Tobin said he always has an eye on the future, the immediate goal is to see if the Bengals can win their third straight AFC North Division title — and get back to the AFC championship game.
They are also trying to get to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.
“Our focus every year is to make the best team possible for this coming season. We don’t want to mortgage the future and say, in a year from now, we’re not going to be able to be competitive or two years from now, we’re not going to be able to be competitive,” Tobin said. “We’re not mortgaging the future, but we’re trying to make the best team possible for this coming season.”
The previous time the Bengals had the 28th overall pick in the first round was 1992, when they took cornerback Darryl Williams.
Cincinnati has a total of seven selections in the draft.
Right tackle, tight end and depth in the secondary.
Williams is projected to start at right tackle, but he has been plagued by injuries and has requested a trade after the Bengals signed Orlando Brown Jr. to play left tackle.
Cincinnati native Paris Johnson Jr., who went to Ohio State, would be a storybook pick, but he is expected to be long gone by the time the Bengals are on the clock.
Tennessee’s Darnell Wright and Ohio State’s Dawand Jones are more likely to be available.
The Bengals signed free agent tight end Irv Smith Jr. and re-signed Drew Sample, but the rest of the group is thin.
There is a strong group of tight ends expected to go in the first round, with Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer or Utah’s Dalton Kincaid being intriguing possibilities if still on the board.
“Just because the class is good doesn’t mean somebody is going to fall in the right range to us and be the best player available when we go. But yes, the class is very good,” Tobin said of the tight ends during the scouting combine.
Cornerback is another position where the Bengals are concerned about depth, especially with Awuzie coming off ACL surgery.
Quarterback and wide receiver.
Besides likely making Joe Burrow the league’s highest-paid quarterback at some point this year, Bengals ownership would like to get an extension done with wide receiver Tee Higgins, who is in the final year of his rookie deal.
Fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase would be eligible for an extension next year.