CINCINNATI — The 2021 NFL Draft is one week away and the Bengals have a tough decision on their hands.
Do they take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase at No. 5?
All three players are available in this mock draft due to an unprecedented run on quarterbacks. It's a great position to be in, but it's also a tough decision.
Here's what I think the Bengals will do in the 2021 NFL Draft!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. New York Jets (2-14) – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Bengals get their man. After months of debate, Cincinnati takes Chase with the fifth pick.
The coaches and scouts love him as a prospect. He's a strong, physical wide receiver that's willing to do the little things. He's a quality blocker, hard worker and he's going to walk in as the Bengals' top option on offense.
They desperately need a downfield threat. Someone that can take pressure off of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Chase can do that and so much more. His intelligence is another part of his game that most people don't talk about.
Joe Burrow praised Chase's football IQ earlier this week. Interestingly enough, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan described what the Bengals are looking for at the wide receiver position earlier this offseason.
"A guy that can stretch the field and push the field with his speed. Enough to where teams are at least concerned about it," Callahan said. "They don't have to be a 4.2 [40-yard dash] or anything like that, but just enough to be a concern for a defense that draws attention. We have smart receivers and we need more smart receivers. Guys that understand coverage, understand route recognition, understand conversions, understand that the quarterback is really smart and we work at his pace. You gotta be able to handle his brain and his tempo—the way that he wants to work. Be able to see things the way that he sees them—fast because that's what he expects."
There are plenty of other bread crumbs out there and they all lead to Chase being the pick at No. 5. The Bengals are hoping that taking a receiver in the top five works out just as well as it did 10 years ago with A.J. Green.
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6. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
7. Detroit Lions (5-11) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
9. Denver Broncos (5-11) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Alabama
11. New York Giants (6-10) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
12. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
13. L.A. Chargers (7-9) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
15. New England Patriots (7-9) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State
18. Miami Dolphins – Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
19. Washington Football Team (7-9) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, OLB, Notre Dame
20. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
22. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
23. Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Trevon Moehrig, S, Missouri
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
25. Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
26. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Azeez Ojulari, DE, Georgia
27. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
28. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
29. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
30. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
31. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Samuel Cosmi, OL, Texas
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
38. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Adding Leatherwood in round two is a dream scenario for the Bengals. He has all of the physical traits necessary to play tackle in the future, but also has experience at guard. At 6-5, 312 pounds, Leatherwood has the size, arm length and frame to be a successful NFL player. Look for him to start at right guard in 2021.
The Bengals are banking on the former Alabama duo—Jonah Williams and Leatherwood—to protect Burrow for years to come.
69. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
If Williams makes it to round three the Bengals may sprint to the podium. He's an elite athlete and had a productive end to his college career in 2020.
Williams finished with 44 tackles (10 for loss), 4.5 sacks in 10 starts. Replacing Geno Atkins is much easier said than done, but adding a young player like Williams is a good start.
It's a shallow defensive tackle class, so there's a chance that he doesn't fall to the top of the third round.
111. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida
Forsythe is a big, strong offensive tackle that excels in pass protection. He's a perfect developmental prospect for offensive line coach Frank Pollack. The Bengals won't ask him to start right away, but at 6-foot-8, 307 pounds, he'll certainly be capable of contributing if needed.
Scouts believe he has some things to work on, especially as a run blocker, but that's exactly why the Bengals brought Pollack back to Cincinnati. Adding a guy like Forsythe would be huge for the future of Cincinnati's offensive line.
149. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Malcolm Koonce, Edge, Buffalo
The Bengals desperately need to bolster their pass rush and after landing a defensive tackle in round three, they add an edge two rounds later.
Koonce had 64 tackles and 14 sacks in his final two seasons (2019-20) at Buffalo. He was a first-team all-conference selection both years. He could easily be the best edge rusher available at this stage of the draft.
190. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
The Bengals need speed and that's exactly what they're getting with Stevenson. He finished with 147 receptions for 2,269 yards and 22 touchdowns in 32 career games.
He has the ability to return kicks and is electric with the ball in his hands. Adding a speedster with upside in this stage of the draft is a no-brainer.
Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette could also be in play if he's still on the board.
202. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
With Giovani Bernard no longer in town, the Bengals need to find a backup running back of the future. Mitchell ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and the speed translates to the field. He's an elite athlete that might not be ready to contribute right away, but has the talent and ceiling to end up becoming a contributor.
235. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) — Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
Bohanna is a big, strong nose tackle that could give the Bengals' some depth behind DJ Reader. At this stage of the draft it's about taking the best player available. It wouldn't be a shock to see the 6-foot-4, 327 pound defensive tackle get some playing time early in his career.
Pick By Pick Breakdown of the Bengals' Draft Haul
5. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
38. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
69. Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
111. Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida
149. Malcolm Koonce, Edge, Buffalo
190. Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
202. Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
235. Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
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