Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis held his annual pre-draft press conference Tuesday, and for the 16th consecutive year he followed the NFL protocol of saying nothing about what might happen this weekend, particularly Thursday night when the team is scheduled to pick 21st in the first round.
“I don’t see what advantage you would ever have of saying anything as a club prior to the draft,” Lewis said. “What advantage do you have unless you’re picking first? It makes no sense to do that.
“If you desire a certain player and another club does as well, maybe they’re more motivated to move in front of you and pick that player if that’s a player they covet as well,” Lewis added. “To me, that doesn’t make much sense. We go through the process and do the evaluations and stack the board and … let things fall the way they may.”
While avoiding talking about specific players, Lewis did point to one position as being not as deep in recent years.
“I’m not sure there’s as many highly ranked defensive backs, compared to recent years,” Lewis said.
The Bengals have taken a cornerback in the first round every other year since 2012, beginning with Dre Kirkpatrick, then Darqueze Dennard (2014) and William Jackson (2016).
The position wasn’t viewed as an area of great need each time the Bengals went in that direction, but every year there are players they have ranked highly who end up sliding for whatever reason. And when that happens, the franchise philosophy has been to grab them even if there are pressing needs elsewhere.
But predicting the path in 2018 based on past drafts may not be effective with the Bengals employing a pair of coordinators who weren’t in their current positions a year ago. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was the quarterbacks coach during the 2016 and 2017 drafts, and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wasn’t even with the organization.
“It’s a new and different mentality, because their experiences are new and different,” Lewis said. “They have the ability to put their influence into the process, with how they see things with their input. That’s going to be important.
“Bill has been here for two years, so he has a little bit of an idea,” Lewis added. “Teryl is brand new in being here. It starts with the things that are important for me first off, and then we go forward from there. Guys we feel are smart enough, fast enough and physical enough are going to come into this building. Those are the values that are important to us.”
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The Bengals own 11 picks in the draft. They have multiple picks in the third (two), fifth (two) and seventh rounds (three), and they don’t have any picks in the sixth round.
The first round will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, with rounds 2-3 taking place Friday evening at 7 and rounds 4-7 beginning at noon Saturday.
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