- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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CINCINNATI -- For much of this pre-draft period, this blog has examined the Cincinnati Bengals' draft history by focusing on what the franchise has done in the 13 years since Marvin Lewis took over as head coach.
While that's certainly not a bad tactic, it's also worth pointing out what the team has done since it's top officer has been making those choices. After all, with as much input as Lewis provides in draft meetings, team president Mike Brown contributes his fair share, too.
Remember, this is Brown's team. That point was driven home Wednesday when Brown surprised many by signing Lewis to a one-year contract extension. The move eliminates the pending lame-duck status Lewis would have had in 2015, the final year of his previous contract. It also should keep the coach around through the 2016 season.
So, as it pertains to this year's draft that begins in Chicago next Thursday, can anything from Brown's past be used as an indicator of how Cincinnati will proceed with its first-round pick?
That's what we tried to explore here. The short answer? This year, history doesn't really tell the story.
That's because the Bengals' biggest needs this season don't much align with the pattern the team has had in the 23 drafts since Brown became team president.
The below chart shows that since the 1992 draft, the Bengals have picked more linebackers (five) in the first round than players at any other position. Defensive backs are a close second, with four. Each of them has been selected since 2003, the year Lewis became head coach.
Although the Bengals have a need for linebackers, they aren't likely to draft any until the second day of the draft this year, at the earliest. The cornerback position also isn't high on their list of priorities this year.
Of the positions the Bengals have drafted the most in the first round under Brown, offensive tackle appears to be the team's biggest draft need this year. If the draft shakes out the way the Bengals would hope, it seems most likely that will be the position they target with the 21st overall pick. Miami's Ereck Flowers, Oregon's Jake Fisher and Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi are potential tackles who could be there when the selection is made.
In the Lewis era, the Bengals have drafted only one tackle in the first round -- current starting right tackle Andre Smith. He was picked sixth overall in 2009. Levi Jones and Willie Anderson were the other two picked during Brown's tenure.
If Brown's draft history isn't the strongest indicator of what the Bengals might do in the first round, can it still help project what the Bengals will do in the overall draft? Yes, that seems more possible.
Each of the five most-drafted positions during Brown's reign are among this year's draft needs. Expect them to take a safety, go after a receiver or two, draft a linebacker or two, commit to an offensive tackle and make a move on a couple of defensive linemen. With a massive group of potential 2016 free agents and aging veterans on the current roster, that's the driving force behind drafting at those positions.
This year, Brown's track record might not tell the story on how the Bengals will approach the first round of the draft.