With the NFL combine starting Feb. 22, we're taking a look at positions of need and who the Cincinnati Bengals might be looking at during the combine at those positions.
Position of need: Offensive line
As we mentioned in Monday's look at the Bengals' pre-combine situation at running back, there really aren't many pressing needs for the team this offseason. Cincinnati has finally become a consistent playoff contender and appears to be one of, if not the most, stable teams in the AFC North. When it comes to personnel moves, not much needs to be added to make the Bengals better. At this point, the two things separating them from reaching the Super Bowl are consistently good play from their quarterback, and flat-out execution in the postseason. The talent is there for a long run into January, it's just about using it properly when the regular season ends and the playoff calendar begins. One of the pieces of talent the Bengals are hopeful about retaining starting next month is offensive tackle Anthony Collins. If they aren't able to keep the lineman in free agency, they still feel confident in those playing ahead of and behind him on the depth chart. Whether Collins ultimately stays or goes, the Bengals still might look to shore up their offensive line depth via the draft. New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's call for a more physical offensive attack could make it even more important for the Bengals to add to their line in the event the physicality causes attrition to the unit as the season goes along.
Three players the Bengals might be targeting (all three are expected to attend the combine)
Morgan Moses (OT), Virginia: Moses mainly makes this list because of the way he wowed me after I watched him from afar the week of the Senior Bowl. He seemed to demonstrate mostly sound technique and proved he can pass protect about as well as he can run block. He was noted before the Senior Bowl as a good run blocker. While he should be available when Cincinnati makes its first-round pick at No. 24, it's doubtful that Moses will be available in some of the later rounds; times the Bengals might desire to draft an offensive lineman. Still, the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder is one to watch.
Brandon Thomas (OT), Clemson: A likely mid-rounder, one of the characteristics about Thomas that could make him an intriguing draft pick is his versatility. Although he started all of Clemson's games at left tackle last season, he also spent time playing guard, like Bengals Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth. Thomas' shorter size -- he's 6-foot-3, 316 pounds -- might make him better suited for guard. In the event the Bengals don't bring back right guard Mike Pollak in free agency, they would need another guard to pair with Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling and Whitworth. It's likely the Bengals will try to bring back the unrestricted free agent Pollak, though.
Anthony Steen (OG), Alabama: The Bengals' love affair with players from the SEC has been well-documented. As one of the top guards in the college conference in 2013, he was one of the key pieces to the Crimson Tide's balanced offensive attack. He won't get as much attention as some of his Alabama teammates, but Steen should be available in the middle rounds. The Bengals have selected at least one offensive lineman from the SEC in three of the last five drafts. Steen's shorter size -- 6-foot, 310 pounds -- could make him a candidate for playing center, too. If Pollak leaves, the Bengals would lose a player who can play both guard and center. By drafting Steen, they might be able to make up for the versatility that would be lost with Pollak's departure.