Bengals should consider a speedy wideout in 2017 draft

CINCINNATI -- Now that the Cincinnati Bengals are three weeks into free agency, they have a more accurate picture of how the roster will look heading into the 2017 draft.

We're taking a look at each position, how it changed in free agency and where it stands now.

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Current roster: A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Alex Erickson, Jake Kumerow, Chris Brown, Alonzo Russell

Departures: James Wright (waived)

State of the position: It's almost surprising to say the Bengals wide receivers went through some growing pains last season, despite boasting one of the best receivers in the game.

But with Green unable to play in the latter half of the season, two departures in free agency (Mohamed Sanu to the Falcons and Marvin Jones to the Lions), and a group of rookies to break in, it was a long year for the position.

2017 is already looking more promising.

The Bengals re-signed Brandon LaFell, who joined the Bengals in free agency last season and had one of the best seasons of his career, catching 64 passes for 862 yards and six touchdowns. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis also noted that the veteran LaFell had a positive effect on Green.

"He aided in the development of A.J.," Lewis said after the season. "A.J. has never had somebody like Brandon LaFell around him. So that was great for A.J. And when A.J. went out, Brandon LaFell raised his level again to fill some of the void."

The Bengals should feel good about the development of some of their young receivers, including 2016 draft picks: Boyd and Core, along with Erickson as a kick returner. Last season, the Bengals were trying to incorporate four new receivers. There won't be as much turnover this season.

That could be good or bad, depending on how the receivers develop.

If the young players continue to rise, the Bengals will be heading into the season with a more stable outlook than last season. But because the offense was so inconsistent last season, the Bengals should be exploring every avenue to improve.

Even though the Bengals took two wide receivers in last year's draft, they shouldn't count out looking for a speedy receiver in the 2017 draft. The Bengals would be wise to get a receiver who could complement Green by stretching the field.

Early in the season, it was easy to key in on Green because the Bengals didn't have many other options. When Green went down late in the season, it gave some of the other receivers a chance to step up, but the Bengals need options next to Green that can produce consistently for 16 games.

Adding Boyd (603 yards, four touchdowns) was a start, but Boyd isn't a true burner. Finding a solid deep threat would give the Bengals a punch they've been lacking.

The Bengals don't necessarily need to find a receiver on Day 1, especially considering they have other positions of need, but adding another receiver is certainly something they should be considering.