We tend to talk about the NFL Draft the same way we tend to talk about most things anymore: in absolutes. We make it black and white, right or wrong. If my team takes this guy draft this guy, they got it right. They take this guy, they got it wrong. GRRRRR!
In reality there's few rights and wrongs, at least none that we can judge immediately, with the draft. There's more that goes into teams deciding which players to pick than even the most sophisticated and well-informed fans realize, and as fans, our preferences for which players we want are less about being right and more about individual perspectives and preferences.
Which brings us to our Bengals.
There are a few different perspectives from which to approach the ninth pick in the draft, none of which are wrong.
There's the perspective that most of us tend to come from when we assess draft possibilities: team need. We watched the Bengals last season, we saw what they didn't do well, holes opened up, and now, they need to address those deficiencies and fill those holes quickly, with the best possible player.
From this vantage point, it makes sense to address the defense first, bolstering the front seven with one of the better defensive ends in the draft. This is where Derek Barnett would come into play, or if he falls, an inside-outside D-lineman like Jonathan Allen. Or, despite some red flags, Rueben Foster to boost the linebacker corps. Maybe Haason Reddick to do Haason Reddick things.
Wanting one of those guys isn't wrong.
There's also the perspective of looking at the entirety of the draft, trying to find the best value, and maybe using it to acquire as many prime assets as possible. From here, it makes sense for the Bengals to explore trading down- something Dave Lapham and I discussed yesterday - to grab with a later pick a player they could take at number nine, but also add a pick or two somewhere else, preferably early. It's a good, deep draft, and the Bengals could use help everywhere, so why not use the ninth pick to help more than one spot?
This perspective isn't wrong.
And there's the perspectives that include taking the best player regardless of position, adding depth to a position ground that has quality, and trying to find the player that can make the biggest impact. That perspective may steer you toward the Bengals taking a pass catcher. The speed of John Ross, the go-the-ball ability of Mike Williams, the tantalizing combo of production of body type of Corey Davis, or even the possibilities of combining OJ Howard and Tyler Eifert.
I can look at what the Bengals are doing tonight from any of those perspectives. And there's a good chance that their approach with how they handle the first round will reflect one of them. There does exist a few potential scenarios that I'd be less than thrilled with. Taking an offensive lineman would feel like a draft-and-develop move that a team looking to contend next season can't afford, and I'll be happy with them sifting through all of the running backs not named "Joe Mixon" on Friday and Saturday. Barring something along those lines, given the fact that I view this year's draft from any of these three perspectives, chances are that I'll come away understanding why the Bengals did what they, and hopefully, we'll all be pretty happy about it.