James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


Why trading back was a big deal

Three weeks from today we will know who the Bengals picked in the first round of the NFL Draft. They traded the 12th overall pick to Buffalo in exchange for the 21st pick and LT Cordy Glenn (5th and 6th round picks were also exchanged).

I don't think there's a tackle in the draft that's worth the 12th pick. Instead of gambling or reaching on an unproven player, they went out and added Glenn. Trading back nine spots opens up their draft board. They've already addressed their biggest weakness, without reaching on a player based on need. I wouldn't be shocked if they took a defensive player with the 21st pick – linebacker, safety, defensive lineman, even a cornerback could make sense.

As far as offense goes, I think we can rule out wide receiver and running back. Clearly, they still need offensive line help – including a center. They also have a need at quarterback – does anyone buy into Matt Barkley as the backup quarterback? They've turned the 12th pick into Glenn and the 21st pick. Could they turn it into their long-term solution at quarterback?

There are arguments for and against the Bengals drafting a signal caller so soon. Clearly, they believe in Andy Dalton and want to build around him. They’re hoping the offensive line is improved enough to keep Dalton upright. They have plenty of needs outside of quarterback – and could completely revamp the offensive line. Let’s say Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame is available when they’re on the clock in round one and then they address the center position with the 46th pick. They would have turned the 12th and 46th picks into three new starters on the offensive line. That scenario would be eerily similar to what Minnesota did last offseason. Their offense had success with a quarterback similar to Dalton.

Let’s say the top lineman are gone when the Bengals are on the clock in round one. Is a linebacker like Rashaan Evans from Alabama or a safety like Justin Reid from Stanford worth taking? You could convince me of that, but would it be worth it if it meant passing on Lamar Jackson? Is it worth passing on a different quarterback who happens to fall on draft night? If Josh Rosen is there are you taking him? What about Josh Allen? Baker Mayfield?

The Bengals are playing with house money in the first round. Yes, they have plenty of needs they have to address. They also have 11 draft picks, they’ve moved down in the draft to secure a left tackle in his prime, and can keep an open mind to every draft scenario because of it.

I’m not saying Rosen, Mayfield or Allen will be there. Heck, I’m not sure the Bengals should draft one if they were – but they should be open to it. I’d be willing to bet they have high first round grades on some of these quarterbacks. If they’re on the clock and they feel like Jackson can be a significant upgrade over Dalton in a year or two, then they should take him. The same thing goes for the rest of the quarterbacks.

 I don’t expect them to take a quarterback with the 21st pick, but stranger things have happened. Maybe they trade back again in the first round, add another day two pick and take their favorite center. Center is probably their biggest need and they may feel like moving back is the best way to address it, while also getting an extra pick in return. Imagine if they traded back six spots, still took Frank Ragnow from Arkansas or Billy Price from Ohio State, while also adding a mid-round pick. This would give them the flexibility to draft a quarterback on day two.

Some of the players that could be available in rounds 2-3 include Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State, Kyle Lauletta from Richmond and Mike White from Western Kentucky. If they add an extra pick and plug the center need in round one, it would give them the ability to trade up (if necessary) throughout the draft to get the players they covet.

This is the beauty of the Glenn trade. It gives them a ton of flexibility. I wouldn’t be shocked if they have five players that play different positions in their sights on draft day. Their board should be wide open and hopefully they’ll keep an open mind with their first-round pick.

For more insight on the quarterback position, check out my interview with Dan Orlovsky.

Great insight on the Bengals draft, their offseason moves and what's next?

Travis Steele is the new head coach at Xavier.

Locked on Bengals - NFL Draft talk, Odell Beckham and more.

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