Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

2018 Bengals draft: Price is right at center

The Cincinnati Bengals walked the tightrope of sticking to their board and attacking their needs when they emerged with a starting center in Ohio State’s Billy Price in the first round and a potential starting free-safety type in Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates III in the second round.

The linchpin of the draft was their trade in the second round when they slid from No. 46 to Kansas City’s spot at No. 54 while moving up 22 spots from Friday night’s last pick to No. 78.

That allowed them to not only get Bates, a player they coveted as they try to improve on a Marvin Lewis-low 10 interceptions last season, but also versatile Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson at No. 78. They were looking to improve their linebacker depth with Vontaze Burfict staring at a four-game suspension and trying to upgrade at a position where undrafted free agents Hardy Nickerson and Brandon Bell were pressed into service last season.

Throw in the selection of Cincinnati’s own Sam Hubbard in the third round with the pick before Jefferson and the Ohio State defensive end that’s pegged to be a rotational player was in the middle of a run in which the Bengals drafted six defenders in their first eight picks. That was the plan heading into the offseason. Address the last-in-the-league offense with free-agent moves involving coaches and players while bolstering the defense in the draft.

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