Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals may need to find a defensive end who can fill Michael Johnson's shoes.
Though the Bengals have an excellent defensive line, anchored by tackle Geno Atkins and end Michael Johnson, the team could use more pass-rushers on the roster. Further, Johnson could be out the door in free agency, as well as fellow ends Wallace Gilberry and Robert Geathers. Though the Bengals do have the cash to keep at least two of these men around, there's no guarantee of it. Especially if they can find someone comparable and less expensive in the draft.
Depending on how free agency pans out, the Bengals could be in the market for a defensive end either early on or near the end of the draft. It all depends on if they'll need a starter come April or simply depth or a situational pass-rusher. What they see out of the ends in the combine will help inform their upcoming decisions with their free agents.
From big-name players like Bjoern Werner, Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah to second- or third-round prospects like Alex Okafor and Datone Jones, nearly every pass-rush capable 4-3 defensive end (or versatile 3-4 outside linebacker) is in play.
Some of those big names could see their draft stock slip after the combine, allowing the Bengals to grab them in the second round, or a marginal talent could stand out enough to warrant the Bengals to take him in the first round.
The Bengals have four picks over the first three rounds of this year's draft, and it stands to reason that they'll be choosing a defensive end, a linebacker, a safety and a running back with them. However, what happens at the combine will do much to determine in what order they make those selections.