Donald Page/Associated Press
There are many different directions in which the Bengals can go this year.
Round 1, Pick No. 24: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
Let's trust Peter King and Chris Mortenson on this. If Bridgewater is available, the Bengals should snap him up because he is clearly the best quarterback in this class. Even though the draft process has made many sour on him, Bridgewater's tape should erase those concerns.
Too much has been made about Bridgewater's frame and not enough has been made of his ability to be an immediate starter. He has the intelligence and precision required to be an above-average starter from Week 1 of his rookie season.
Round 2, Pick No. 55: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice.
If there is one spot on the roster that the Bengals need to address early in the draft, it's the cornerback position. Philip Gaines is a very talented player who needs time to develop. The Bengals have veterans in place as well as a strong coaching staff who can take the time to develop Gaines into a quality starter.
Gaines isn't exceptionally young, he just turned 23, but he could sit for up to two years before being inserted into the lineup.
Round 3, Pick No. 88: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee.
Ideally, the Bengals would like to add a player who can compete with Clint Boling for the starting left guard spot or a potential starting center during the first three rounds of the draft. However, in this draft that player doesn't fall to them.
Instead they take the best value offensive lineman available, Antonio Richardson. Richardson is a tackle with incredible athleticism. He needs to develop better technique, but in terms of pure physical talent he has long-term starter potential.
Round 4, Pick No. 123: Devonta Freeman, RB, FSU.
The Bengals have good depth at the running back position, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis shouldn't be around much longer. With Giovani Bernard entrenched as a starter, they will only be looking for complementary players at the position in this draft.
Freeman's value at this point of the draft is too tempting to pass on. He could immediately compete for playing time as a nickel back because of his pass protection, meaning the Bengals could be more diverse in how they use Bernard.
Round 5, Pick No. 164: Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College.
Pierre-Louis will remind the Bengals of a shorter Emmanuel Lamur. Lamur was expected to be an important player for the defense in 2013, but injury stopped his season before it began. Defenses are moving towards having more linebackers who can cover, so adding Pierre-Louis to not only compete with Lamur for playing time but maybe also play with him in certain packages makes sense.
Round 6, Pick No. 199: Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan.
Andrew Hawkins departed for the Cleveland Browns this year. The Bengals don't necessarily need to replace him with someone from the draft, but they can add a player who could offer that skill set and be a punt returner by taking Jeremy Gallon in the sixth round.
Round 6, Pick No. 212: Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami.
Seantrel Henderson has the physical talent of a first round pick, the production of a third round pick and the character concerns of an undrafted free agent. It's tough to determine where Henderson will go, but some teams will likely have him completely off their boards.
The biggest issue for Henderson is that he failed a drug test at the combine. A number of players have done this in recent seasons and still gone on to success in the NFL, including Vontaze Burfict of the Bengals.
Round 7, Pick No. 239: Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford.
Round 7, Pick No. 252: Kerry Wynn, DE, Richmond.
After failing to find a defensive end they were comfortable taking in earlier rounds, the Bengals spend two picks on athletes in the seventh.