(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cincinnati Bengals are still searching for that elusive first playoff win in the Marvin Lewis era despite reaching the postseason three consecutive times, a first in franchise history.
The team's ascent to playoff regular directly correlates with Andy Dalton's arrival at the quarterback position but the Red Rifle's subpar play in big moments has some wondering if the Bengals can take the next step with him.
Continuing to build the supporting cast around Dalton is what this draft will be about and the biggest priorities figure to be replacing defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins, who both fled to central Florida in free agency, as well as beefing up the cornerback position where Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury and Terence Newman will be 36 by next season.
Defensive end might be the thinnest position in this draft (although Missouri stalwart Kony Ealy and Auburn tweener Dee Ford both project as possible late first-round choices), while the top-tier offensive tackles figure to be gone by the time Cincinnati gets around to picking at No. 24 overall.
Corners like Jason Verrett of TCU and Bradley Roby of Ohio State may be around, though.
2013 Record: 11-5
Top Needs: CB, OL, DE
First Three Picks: No. 24, No. 55, No. 88
Number of Selections: 9 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7)
CALLING THE SHOTS: Owner Mike Brown is hands on while his brother, Pete, has the title of VP of player personnel. Lewis is the third part of this triangle of authority, one which seems dysfunctional at first glance but has hummed along and proven to be pretty successful in recent seasons.
RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame); 2012 - Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama), Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin); 2011 - A.J. Green (WR, Georgia); 2010 - Jermaine Gresham, TE (Oklahoma); 2009 - Andre Smith (OT, Alabama); 2008 - Keith Rivers (LB, USC); 2007 - Leon Hall (CB, Michigan); 2006 - Johnathan Joseph (CB, South Carolina); 2005 - David Pollack (OLB, Georgia); 2004 - Chris Perry (RB, Michigan); 2003 - Carson Palmer (QB, Southern Cal).