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NFL1000: Cincinnati Bengals 2017 NFL Draft Preview

Posted on April 21, 2017 at 11:12 AM

By NFL1000 Scouts

Marvin Lewis has been the Bengals‘ head coach since 2003, a time when Cincinnati’s ultra-cheap ownership didn’t seem to think scouting departments were valuable expenses. For years, Lewis had to improvise and make do, and his 118-103-3 record and three losing seasons should be seen as a testament to his abilities—most coaches would not have posted such positive marks under those circumstances.

Going into the 2017 season, and coming off a 6-9-1 record, Lewis faces new challenges. Rumors have swirled about his possible firing and retirement, but he’s sticking around at least through 2017, and there’s a lot to be done.

This offseason, the team bid farewell to a number of franchise cornerstones: left tackle Andrew Whitworth, right guard Kevin Zeitler, defensive tackle Domata Peko and linebacker Rey Maualuga. In addition, there weren’t the kinds of free-agent signings that would lead to instant replacements—especially given the fact that, in 2016, Whitworth and Zeitler might have been the best two players Cincinnati had on offense.

As they head into the 2017 draft, the Bengals have clear needs along the offensive line and could use depth at running back and receiver. Though the defense was more consistent than the offense in 2016, the Bengals haven’t built the paradigm they had when they made the playoffs every year from 2011 through 2015: a team constructed to be deep and talented enough to make up for the deficiencies of quarterback Andy Dalton. Right now, it looks like a rebuild.

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