Super Bowl finalists Bengals looking for cornerbacks and line depth

FILE - Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. (23) defends against North Carolina State's Emeka Emezie (86) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 25, 2021. Booth is a potential pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in next week's NFL Draft as the team seeks depth at cornerback.  (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

FILE – Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. (23) defends against North Carolina State’s Emeka Emezie (86) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 25, 2021. Booth is a potential pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in next week’s NFL Draft as the team seeks depth at cornerback. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

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31, 63. CINCINNATI BENGALS (13-8)

LAST SEASON: Bengals coach Zac Taylor entered his third year under considerable pressure to show results – and he did. With (generally) healthy quarterback Joe Burrow returning from a devastating knee injury that prematurely ended his rookie season in 2021, and eventual Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati n wasn’t quite a juggernaut. But he was hot in December and rode the momentum all the way to the Super Bowl, winning in a thrilling playoff. The team’s dire need was an upgrade to an offensive line that couldn’t protect Burrow and consistently set up lanes for running back Joe Mixon. Burrow has been sacked a league-high 70 times in 20 games.

FREE AGENCY/TRADE: The Bengals quickly resolved O line issues through free agency, adding G Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras and T La’el Collins. Also signed TE Hayden Hurst and TE Nick Eubanks. Franchise label placed on S Jessie Bates III. Lost T Riley Reiff, DB Michael Thomas, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DE Zach Kerr, T Quinton Spain, TE CJ Uzomah, WR Auden Tate, CB Darius Phillips, LB Jordan Evans, CB Vernon Hargreaves III. Released C Trey Hopkins, T Fred Johnson, CB Trae Waynes. Re-signed WR Stanley Morgan, WR Trenton Irwin, CB Eli Apple, CB Tre Flowers, WR Mike Thomas, QB Brandon Allen, DT Josh Tupou, LS Clark Harris, DE BJ Hill, LB Joe Bachie, CB Jalen Davis, WR Trent Taylor , TE Mitchell Wilcox, S Ricardo Allen retired.

WHAT THEY NEED: CB, DL, OL.

THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, S.

FIRST POSSIBLE CHOICE: Clemson CB Andrew Booth; Washington BC Kyler Gordon; Florida BC Kaiir Elam; Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum.

OUTLOOK: The Bengals have a revamped offensive line, but wouldn’t mind adding more guys to that unit, especially if Linderbaum is still available. What they need are cornerbacks after cutting the oft-injured Waynes and losing depth to free agency. Apple was re-signed but he had consistency issues last season. Cincinnati has added franchise building blocks Burrow and Chase with its initial picks over the past two years. With the 31st pick this time around, the Bengals are hoping to land a cornerback who will compete for a starting role with Apple and make a difference right away. The Bengals may also have their eye on some defensive linemen.

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