Bengals coach on the draft: ‘We just need to make sure our team is getting better each and every year’

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor compared his team’s situation approaching the 2022 NFL Draft to the one it faced two years ago.

Then the Bengals picked Clemson receiver Tee Higgins with the No. 33 pick after every other team got a chance to make a pick.

Similarly, 30 other picks will be made before the Bengals are on the clock this year.

Of course, there is one big difference: The Bengals won’t be starting this draft by taking Joe Burrow.

“It’s not all that unique to what happened to us two years ago when we had the first pick and the 33rd pick where we were taking Tee,” Taylor said Tuesday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine. “You knew before the draft clock started who you were taking at one so you were doing all that work to get ready for the 33rd pick.”

Actually having Burrow in the fold is far form the only change in the last two years. The Bengals have also gone from a two-win team to one that came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl.

As expected, having a player like Burrow in the fold changes a lot for any team, especially when it comes to building a roster.

Not only do the Bengals appear to be set for the future at quarterback, there is also some hope Burrow’s presence will help attract more talent.

Taylor did not discount that notion, but he pointed out one thing is usually the determining factor when it comes to free agency.

“I think the money always helps with those guys,” he said with a grin, “but certainly I would imagine that people from the outside watched us play this year and saw a really talented team had a lot of success and had a lot of fun doing it. And I’m very proud of that, to be a part of that as a coaching staff where we enjoyed it. We enjoyed every step of it, and it was long and it was a grind, but we loved it. Our players liked that, and I think that really exuded outside the building and people around the world probably saw that. And we maybe hopefully gained some more fans from across the country and across the world.

“And, you know, if there’s some free agents that noticed that want to be a part of it as well and it fits where we’re at, then that’s certainly an extra benefit as well.”

After Burrow was sacked 70 times last season, the offensive line has been widely viewed as the area of the team most in need of attention, but Taylor and director of player personnel Duke Tobin both downplayed it Tuesday.

“We just need to make sure our team is getting better each and every year,” Taylor said. “And our offensive line, like Duke probably mentioned, did some great things for us this year. You know, we had two 1,000-yard receivers. Joe had all the success he had. (Running back Joe) Mixon had over 1,000 yards. That’s not done with with a bunch of guys that can’t get it done.

“So again, we’ll look at every area as we move forward to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward as the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals, and we look forward to starting that process.”

Taylor said the team would begin interviewing prospects Tuesday night, and he looked forward to getting to know a new class of players.

The players will meet the media every day beginning with receivers and tight ends Wednesday morning.

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