CINCINNATI — Fans and media went back and forth about the Bengals' fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for months before the team actually made their selection.
Ultimately, Cincinnati took wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. The former LSU star dominated college football at just 19-years-old.
Former Oregon tackle Penei Sewell was the runner up. Much like Chase, Sewell showed his potential at a young age.
That isn't the only thing the two have in common. Both guys opted out of the 2020 college football season. Despite taking a year off, both Chase and Sewell were the considered the top players at their respective positions in this year's draft.
There's no doubt that they have the talent to be successful, unfortunately both guys have struggled this preseason.
Chase and Sewell received the lowest marks on CBS Draft Analyst Chris Trapasso's report card that graded the best and the worst first round picks up to this point.
Chase received a D+, which was the second-worst grade behind Sewell, who had the lowest mark with a D.
"Three drops on three targets against the Washington Football team. That's the headline with Chase. And it's an ugly one," Trapasso wrote. "I'm, of course, not ready to bury him yet. Not even remotely close. Chase's hands were not a problem at LSU. In fact, he dominated in traffic in that epic 2019 of his. Chase has gotten open on a handful of the 10 routes he's run. His lone catch game on a play I hope the Bengals use with Chase frequently—a quick screen. He's A.J. Brown-esque after the catch."
The Bengals do plan on getting the ball to Chase in space. Look for him to run plenty of screens, drags and slants. He'll go deep too, but the Bengals are going to move him around and give him the ball in a variety of different ways.
As for Sewell, Trapasso is hoping the rookie settles in at his new position.
Every former NFL offensive lineman turned analyst will tell you—flipping from left tackle to right tackle (or vice versa) is a challenge," he wrote. "Like being right-handed and trying to write with your left. And Sewell has looked uncomfortable at right tackle. There's no way around it. The depth in his kick slide has been almost non-existent. He hasn't controlled blockers with power and longer rushers have gotten into his frame and put him on roller skates. The "wins" for Sewell have been few and far between. Not playing football in a year then joining the NFL to play a new position has made for a doubly difficult transition for the large, inherently gifted blocker."
Chase's drops are concerning, but it's way too early to panic. The same goes for Sewell.
After months of debate about who the Bengals were going to take, both players find themselves searching for answers with the start of the regular season less than three weeks away.
Read Trapasso's entire article here.
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