4. Jamie Collins and Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2019 NFL Draft with a massive, gaping whole at the inside linebacker position. After releasing Vontaze Burfict, almost everyone expected them to address the position either in free agency or early in the draft.
But, like poor franchises tend to do, the Bengals completely ignored the position, only selecting former Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis in sixth round. While Davis may eventually grow in to a nice piece for the team, it is unreasonable to expect that he’ll be ready to be the starting middle linebacker by September. That sort of growth rarely happens.
The team is fortunate that it has plenty of draft space to address the position with remaining available free agents, and one could expect them to do so in the very near future. There are, also and surprisingly, still a couple of really solid starting-caliber middle linebackers on the market, and Cincinnati should seriously pursue Jamie Collins.
It may not matter. The Bengals are likely to be among the worst teams in the league this season. But, the team should not give up on building a quality defense simply because it is unlikely to be wholly competitive. If I were general manager Mike Brown, I’d sign Collins to a longer-term deal (than what is typical for this point in the offseason) and use him as the building block of the future for a team that needs a reboot and new identity.