CINCINNATI — The Bengals need to upgrade their offensive line and their wide receiver core in the NFL Draft later this month. They also need to add another edge rusher.
The good news is their major needs line up with the depth of the draft. Lance Zierlien of NFL.com ranked each position group in this year's draft class.
He had wide receiver first, followed by offensive tackle, interior offensive line and edge rusher.
"For the second year in a row, the receiver position appears to be the deepest in the draft. For what it's worth, I actually have the top three receivers in 2021 ranked above the top three receivers from last year, both as a group and individually," Zierlein wrote. "Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle all have game-breaking elements to their play, while targets like Elijah Moore and Kadarius Toney are going to be nightmares to cover from the slot. It's also worth noting the amount of size/speed prospects with good upside that will be available on Day 3 of the draft."
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Offensive tackle was in second, followed by interior offensive line.
"Last year featured some outstanding first-round talent, and while this year presents a similar offering, there are definitely more holes to poke in this year's potential first-rounders than there were in last year's group," Zierlein wrote about the offensive tackle class. "Rashawn Slater feels like a safe player but may get kicked inside eventually. Penei Sewell boasts lots of upside but needs to prove he has improved his play strength and consistency after opting out of the 2020 season. While the top end falls below last year's group, this class is actually much deeper in Rounds 2 through 4, and it should produce a fair number of future starters."
The Bengals had the worst guard play in the NFL last season. They need to draft one, maybe two prospects that are capable of playing guard and/or center.
"After landing in last place on last year's list, this position is very quietly developing into one of the deepest in the draft," Zierlein wrote. "Alijah Vera-Tucker will be considered the headliner if he's drafted as a guard instead of a tackle, but setting him aside, players like Landon Dickerson, Quinn Meinerz, Aaron Banks, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith should all become starters and may go as early as the second round. Even beyond the aforementioned talent, your team should find players with a chance to become eventual starters into Day 3 of this year's draft."
The Bengals will likely take Sewell or Chase with the fifth pick in the draft. Regardless of the route they take, they're going to need to address their four biggest weaknesses at some point in the draft.
Cincinnati has eight total picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, including two sixth round selections.
Check out Zierlein's entire article here.
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