Bengals off-season additions give them ‘flexibility’ with first-round pick


Cincinnati approached the offensive line through free agency and could still go that route, but the Bengals have already added three new starters, so it’s not as big of a need.

While there are spots across the board that could be improved, the Bengals will have the option of going with the best player available instead of hitting a certain position. Tobin said Bengals decision makers “are flexible to take guys for the future if that’s what needs to happen.”

This flexibility also means the Bengals would be open to negotiation to add more picks. Cincinnati already has recent second-round history — in 2021, 2019, 2018 and 2017 — and if the 31st pick is considered the same, the organization could keep that pattern.

“It’s just (pretty much) an opportunity,” Tobin said when asked about the second-round trading trend. “It’s not something that we go into the draft saying, ‘We’re going to trade that second-round pick and walk away. If the opportunity arises and the board is what we want it to be, then we consider doing those things. It is serendipity. It happened for us and it worked in some cases. You need to be flexible as the project progresses. We are flexible to the opportunities that come our way. And we’re also aware that if we back off, we might not get the guy we’re looking for. So it depends on who stays, how we feel about them, and how many of them we care about.

Tobin said most of those decisions came from “impulse” calls that prompted a trade as the pick approached, but most of the time the team looking to move forward is the aggressor.

It also helps the Bengals that his draft class looks deeper at fullback than in recent years, and they’re seeing good talent in multiple positions. Tobin didn’t point to specific positions deeper than others, but said there would be peaks and valleys.

“I think there are guys everywhere,” Tobin said. “Every year it’s weird in that sometimes there’s a lot of players in one round that we’re rating, then maybe two rounds where there’s hardly anyone, and then it picks up late. This year has these peaks and valleys. So if we don’t go here, we’ll probably have to wait until the end of the project to address this position. So we know it’s going in. I won’t go into detail on how which we see every position of here, but yeah, this draft has some of these peaks and valleys and some of these valleys that are important to us, we’ll have to try and navigate as the draft goes.”

The Bengals’ draft board has some semblance of general player rankings, but Tobin said they organize them more into “buckets” by putting guys of similar ability together in different positions. Decision makers won’t leave a bucket of guys deemed to have a higher level of talent just to reach a position of need in a “lower bucket”.

Cincinnati is trying to push its own simulation project into three rounds, but Tobin said it was almost being treated as a “worst-case scenario.” Either way, the Bengals will enter the draft next week feeling well-prepared, even with the uncertainty that comes with being selected so late.

“We talk about everything,” Tobin said. “We try to stack the groups of positions, then we start discussing how to stack them, whatever the position. This is what we do. We did it this morning. We’ll continue to do that this weekend and early next week and try to solidify how we stack them. Player A against Player B against Player C and whatever the position. Sometimes there’s a big drop in that stack and you can draw a line and say, “OK, that’s where we drop.” We want to put one of these guys above the line rather than below. This can determine whether you are ready to trade or not.

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