The NFL draft is only days away and the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves in good shape to acquire young talent. Cincinnati had a different approach to this offseason choosing to be less active on the free-agent market and more focused on retaining key players.
Now that they have successfully done that (with the exception of Andre Smith), focus shifts to the NFL draft. Head coach Marvin Lewis and owner/general manager Mike Brown have almost set themselves up to draft the best available player with their first pick, No. 21. By re-signing players like Michael Johnson, Terence Newman and Rey Maualuga and acquiring James Harrison, the Bengals have earned the luxury of choosing from who is available rather than choosing based on team needs and weaknesses. Again, the exception being the right tackle position.
Whether or not Smith re-signs, according to head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals could still draft a tackle if he's the best player available. That theory will certainly be tested if Andre Smith doesn't re-sign because the top four or five tackles will likely be gone by the 21st pick causing the Bengals to either reach or wait.
"We're not going to reach and take a player we don't think is worthy of the value of the pick," Lewis told Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson.
Now that most of the other moving parts have settled, here is how I see the first three rounds playing out in Cincinnati.