I love the draft.  I really do.  Along with the Super Bowl, first week of the regular season, last 16 weeks of the regular season and the playoffs, it’s my favorite event in the NFL.  Leading up to the draft, I’ll be writing draft previews for each team.  As the draft draws closer and we know more about who will be available and all that, I’ll revisit each team.  But for now, we’ll look at each team, their needs and what they might do.  Next up: The Cincinnati Bengals.

Season Review: Unlike the three teams picking a head of them, the Bengals don’t have a lot of reason for optimism.  They play in one of the best divisions in football, and recently watched the other perennial losers in the division, the Browns, have a nice upswing.  Not all hope is lost, however.  Marvin Lewis returns as head coach, and Carson Palmer played better without chronic distractions Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson Ochocinco.  The running game improved with Cedric Benson in the backfield, and the defense is strong, with a pair of excellent corners, a pass rusher who spent most of the year on IR (Kyle Van Den Bosch)

Needs: Andre Smith, last years #6 overall pick, underperformed all year, battling weight and attitude.  While he is not hopeless, the O line is a weak link, especially if the team parts ways with its second veteran receiver in as many years, as they are expected to.

What They Should Do: Cincinnati is in the unenviable position of looking at a reach to suit their needs.  Tackles Derek Sharrod (Miss. State) will be tempting here, as will Tyron Smith of USC. AJ Greene is certainly an excellent option, especially if they can find a trade partner to move Johnson.  Barring that, a trade would be awfully tempting.  If they can convince QB-needy teams below them that Arizona is about to pounce on Jake Locker, they may be able to move down and acquire more picks.  San Francisco (7), Tennessee (8), Washington (10) and Minnesota all would be in play to trade up.  If they can move down to 10 (which is the most likely option, since Shannahan is still looking for the next Elway, and will not be shy about spending Snyders money), they can still grab a top-flight lineman and acquire more picks.

What They Will Do: If they can’t move down- and don’t think they won’t try to package 85 and the pick (which, incidentally, will cause me to commit suicide) to Washington- expect them to grab a tackle.  This will be the test of exactly how much personnel control Lewis got in his new deal- AJ Greene should be the pick, but the first receiver taken commands a lot of money, and Mike Brown does not spend money like that.  If Lewis is calling the shots, it’s Greene, if not my money is on Sharrod.