Cincinnati Bengals 2018 team preview
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The Cincinnati Bengals are just two seasons removed from a 12-4 record and AFC North division title, but things are going in the wrong direction. They finished just below .500 in 2016 and 2017, but it looks like they are going to have a couple four or five-win seasons before getting back to consistent double-digit wins. The only thing that has kept them from finishing last in the division was the Cleveland Browns.

Here is a breakdown of the Bengals for the 2018 season.

Head Coach

Marvin Lewis is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL. Not coincidentally, he is also second in wins. Lewis has amassed a 123-112-3 in 15 seasons as head coach of the Bengals. The Bengals have four division titles and seven playoff berths under Lewis. Prior to joining the Bengals in 2003, he was the defensive coordinator of Washington for one season and the Ravens for six seasons. He also has experience as a linebackers coach for the Steelers, University of Pittsburgh, University of New Mexico, Long Beach State University and Idaho State University.

Draft Picks

Round 1, Pick 21 – Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Price is a strong and athletic interior lineman. He has the ability to play both center and guard. He should step in and start at center immediately.

Round 2, Pick 54 – Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest. Bates is a playmaking, center-field type safety. He has good ball and coverage skills, but not a very good tackler.

Round 3, Pick 77 – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State. Hubbard has the size and college production teams look for but lacks the athleticism to be a dominant pass rusher. He will be an edge-setting defensive end that can force running backs to go in the wrong direction.

Round 3, Pick 78 – Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. Jefferson has good size and speed with the collegiate production to match. He has the athleticism to be a situational and special team standout for the Bengals.

Round 4, Pick 112 – Mark Walton, RB, Miami. Walton is an athletic, slasher-style running back that can hit the home run. He needs to be more decisive to take his game to another level.

Round 5, Pick 151 – Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State. Harris is a stocky cornerback that should excel in the slot. He has the ability to play outside with toughness. He needs to improve in man coverage.

Round 5, Pick 158 – Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia. Brown does not have a flashy tape from college but has the ability to move the line of scrimmage backward. He has situational depth ability right now.

Round 5, Pick 170 – Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan. Phillips is a coverage cornerback with the ball skills and short area quickness to play inside or outside.

Round 7, Pick 249 – Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo. Woodside lacks ideal size and arm strength but has the accuracy and football-IQ to be a sleeper quarterback prospect.

Round 7, Pick 252 – Rod Taylor, G, Mississippi. Taylor is a big interior offensive lineman. He lacks the athleticism and balance to be a starting offensive lineman but could be a versatile, depth blocker.

Round 7, Pick 253 – Auden Tate, WR, Florida State. Tate is a large target with good ball skills. He needs to improve his athleticism to create separation from defensive backs. He is an excellent short-yardage or red zone target.

Notable Additions

QB Matt Barkley (Cardinals) – Barkley has limited success and limited experience, but he will likely be the top backup Andy Dalton. He did not play at all with the Cardinals in 2017.

LB Preston Brown (Bills) – Brown will make an immediate impact on the Bengals as a run-stopping inside linebacker. He was tied for the league lead in combined tackles last season with the Bills.

Projected Starters

Offense

Quarterback – 14 Andy Dalton; Running Back – 28 Joe Mixon; Wide Receiver – 18 A.J. Green; Wide Receiver – 11 Brandon LaFell; Wide Receiver – 83 Tyler Boyd; Tight End – 85 Tyler Eifert; Left Tackle – 77 Cordy Glenn; Left Guard – 65 Clint Boling; Center – 53 Billy Price; Right Guard – 66 Trey Hopkins; Right Tackle – 74 Jake Fisher

Defense

Defensive End – 96 Carlos Dunlap; Defensive End – 90 Michael Johnson; Defensive Tackle – 99 Andrew Billings; Defensive Tackle – 97 Geno Atkins; Linebacker – 59 Nick Vigil; Linebacker – 52 Preston Brown; Linebacker –55 Vontaze Burfict; Cornerback – 27 Dre Kirkpatrick; Cornerback – 22 William Jackson; Safety – 36 Shawn Williams; Safety – 43 George Iloka

Specialists

Kicker – 4 Randy Bullock; Punter – 10 Kevin Huber; Long Snapper – 46 Clark Harris

Biggest Question

Have the Bengals fixed their offensive line?

The Bengals once had a very solid offensive line, but have consistently lost players to free agency over the years. Last season, they took the biggest hit when Andrew Whitworth signed with the Rams and Kevin Zeitler reached a deal with the Browns. Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals as the 28th offensive line in the NFL. They acquired Cordy Glenn from the Bills and drafted Billy Price in the first round of the draft.

To Answer That Question

No, not really

The Bengals will see better play from their offensive line. Glenn is an upgrade over Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle and Price should be a long-term upgrade over Bodine. However, Glenn is 29-years-old and not a long-term solution and Price is a rookie that suffered an injury at the combine.

There is never a sure thing, but Glenn is as close as there is. The Bengals should not be worried about Boling either. However, Price and the right side are huge question marks. Price is a rookie with no NFL experience. Fisher and Hopkins were not good last season and neither has shown anything to make you think they will take a huge step forward.

Outlook

The Bengals are going to get worse before they get better. There is no questioning that. They have a few good players, but not enough to get back to the playoffs or even seven wins.