Cincinnati Bengals: Tom Savage

For a lot of teams, next week's draft will be an opportunity to select players early who are expected to contribute right away.

The Cincinnati Bengals aren't one of those teams.

Since they didn't lose many starters off the 2013 team, the Bengals enter 2014 with a mostly set roster. Depth, and adding players who can soon take over for aging veterans are the primary concerns for the Bengals in this draft. As a result, the question is worth asking: how important is this draft to the Bengals?

One reader asked that question this week, and it's where we begin this week's Bengals mailbag:
Normally we would be spending this weekend putting a few finishing touches on the last few pre-draft stories and blogs.

But alas, there are no finishing touches being placed down this Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to a draft process that's ending in May instead of the traditional April, you'll be seeing much more pre-draft coverage for another two weeks.

The long march to May 8 continues.

Many of you have grown more curious lately about what the Cincinnati Bengals' draft plans might be and are anxious about understanding why they might take a slot cornerback over an offensive lineman with their first-round pick, or draft a defensive end instead. I'm here to answer those questions in Part 1 of our two-day Bengals mailbag. The second part will deal with issues related to players currently on the team.

After winning the AFC North for a third time and going 11-5, the Cincinnati Bengals have the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. A cornerback, interior offensive lineman or linebacker would make sense for that first-round pick. In the rounds that follow, quarterbacks, defensive linemen, safeties and running backs could be drafted by Cincinnati.

Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft hit ESPN's Insider page Thursday. His first-round choice for the Bengals is a player with rather local ties.