Taking a dive into wants vs. needs with the 2024 NFL Draft nearing for Cincinnati

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, it’s tough to decipher what each team needs versus what they want.

Every year, each team has their list of “needs” and “wants,” and sometimes it’s tough to decipher what they are. What’s the difference?

You have to take a step back and look at the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Offensively, the Cincinnati Bengals had a bunch of strengths, but there are a few wants they could target.

Defensively, they had quite a few weaknesses, and there are a bunch of needs they need to target. As most of us predicted, the Bengals followed in their footsteps like the last few years and made a few splashes, some bigger than others.

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They filled a huge gap in the defensive backfield with the signing of safety Geno Stone. This team was one of the league-leading teams in allowing explosive plays, as they had major gaps in their secondary. Stone should help close those after a breakout year last season with seven interceptions, including one against Joe Burrow.

For the second straight offseason, the Bengals signed a stud offensive tackle, arguably one of the better ones last season, in Trent Brown. Joey B now has two different, 6-foot-8, 350ish-pound men protecting both sides of him.

Brown will replace Jonah Williams at right tackle after the latter departed for Arizona.

Now, in my opinion, the biggest splash of free agency didn’t come on a monetary deal, but more so quality. The man who helped this squad reach the playoffs for the first time in 30-plus years and made play after play, Vonn Bell.

Bell left a year ago in free agency to join the Panthers, but now he’s back with Cincinnati on a one-year deal. That will be a major addition to a safety room that was clearly in over its head last year.

Obviously, as you sign new players to the team, you’re going to lose some guys, some good and some bad.

Unfortunately, the team lost some good guys. Joe Mixon was thought to be released and then was traded to the Houston Texans.

With the availability, the Bengals didn’t sign a big name back to replace Mixon but a quality one in Zack Moss.

Formerly with the Bills and last season with the Colts, the 26-year-old had a solid season a year ago. As a backup to Jonathan Taylor, he proved himself as a starter. Taylor sat out the first few games and then got banged up through the season.

In 14 games, Moss had almost 800 yards last year. He will now be a part of a dangerous 1-2 punch with Chase Brown.

The Bengals lost their massive brick wall on the defensive front in DJ Reader. He signed with the Lions.

Chidobe Awuzie also signed a deal with former Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who is now the Titans head coach.

With a clear need at defensive tackle, the Bengals signed Sheldon Rankins to a two-year deal. He also has experience against the Bengals, as he was able to slide right past the offensive line to get Burrow a couple of times.

Nick Scott is the only loss the team had that didn’t hurt them too much. Scott underperformed for the team last season and didn’t have too much of an impact. The team re-signed two of the three tight ends from last year, Tanner Hudson and Drew Sample, which came as no surprise.

The Bengals would later reel in Mike Gesicki to upgrade the tight end room. He’s another guy who isn’t a huge name but has huge potential, especially with the history of tight ends coming to Cincy, performing well, creating their identity, and signing elsewhere (with the exception of Irv Smith last year, who was a bust), Gesicki comes to town already somewhat established, spending five seasons with the Dolphins and last season with the Patriots.

Now since free agency has died down, and the draft is right around the corner, this is the time when the team sits back and decides what the team still needs versus what they desire.

In free agency, they lost a safety but gained two, lost a running back and gained one, lost an offensive tackle but gained one, lost a defensive tackle, then gained one, and finally lost a cornerback. Most of the positions they lost they gained back immediately, but they could still use depth.

But what’s most important?

After free agency, I don’t think their needs changed too much, but a couple of things might have changed. Some needs could be: offensive line, defensive line (everything starts at the line, on both sides), DB/S, for depth purposes, RB for multipurpose use, WR for depth with one receiver on a tag and another in limbo in free agency and a couple more coming off rookie seasons.

Finally, they could need a TE for depth or long-term starting purposes.

The closer we get to the draft, the more it becomes clear the Bengals will stick to normalcy again and go with the best player available (BPA). There’s nothing wrong with that at all. You just have to be careful with choosing wants and desires over what’s necessary for the team to have in order to play at an elite level all season.

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Title: Taking a dive into wants vs. needs with the 2024 NFL Draft nearing for Cincinnati
Author: Andrew Hines

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