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National Analysts Continue to Question Bengals' Decision to Pass on Penei Sewell

Did the Bengals make the best decision for Joe Burrow's future?

CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is on track to be ready for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season after undergoing knee reconstruction surgery in December.  

Dr. Neal ElAttrache gave the 24-year-old rave reviews for how he's attacking the recovery process.

"He's doing all the work. He's worked his tail off and been an amazingly mature participant in his recovery. He's focused and great to work with," ElAttrache told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "Notwithstanding the nature of his injury and extent of his reconstruction, his knee is performing perfectly. We just had him tested out here [in Los Angeles] with a high-tech video and biomechanical evaluation and he was ahead of where we anticipated and well into the return to performance phase of his recovery. With him already performing this way, it's 'all systems go' for the start of the season."

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National analysts across the country discussed the news on Tuesday afternoon. They were happy for Burrow, but continue to question the Bengals' offensive line.

"My question isn't about the quarterback or Ja'Marr Chase, who they took with the first pick this year. It's around the offensive line because in taking Chase over Penei Sewell, left tackle out of Oregon, they said 'we are OK with the group we have protecting Joe Burrow,'" ESPN analyst Mina Kimes said. "A group that mind you finished 29th in pass block win rate last year, 24th in adjusted sack ratio. I don't need statistics. You watched him, you saw. Joe Burrow was running for his life half the time. This was a calculated bet that Jonah Williams, the former first round draft pick, can take another step forward at left tackle. That Riley Reiff, who they signed in the offseason, can help as well. But there is immense pressure on this group to allow less pressure on Joe Burrow. And they've got Danielle Hunter Week 1, Khalil Mack Week 2, T.J. Watt Week 3. We're going to find out really soon if it was a mistake to pass on Penei."

The Chase versus Sewell debate lasted for months. Cincinnati took the former and they couldn't be more happier to have the star receiver on their roster, but that doesn't mean that the decision was easy.

"Pressure on this offensive line unit and also pressure on their offensive line coach and also the decision makers who decided that it was more important to get Joe Burrow a weapon than it was to get him protection. When I spoke with sources in that organization in the weeks leading up to the draft it was explained to me that the priority was to get Joe protection and also to get him a weapon," Diana Russini said. "It didn't surprise me that they went with the weapon because I knew that was at least on the board for what their need was, but you have to figure there are people in that building who know they need that protection—they needed that offensive lineman and the organization decided that the receiver was way more valuable. So when we talk about pressure, there's pressure on everyone starting with the person that made the call."

There's no doubt that the Bengals had internal debates about the fifth pick, but they believe a star receiver like Chase, along with second round pick Jackson Carman offered them better value than what Sewell and a day two wide-out would've given them. 

Cincinnati had Chase higher than Sewell on their board. They didn't fold under the pressure that the national media put on them to take a lineman with the fifth pick. Instead, they took the top player on their draft board. 

Watch Schefter, Kimes and Russini discuss the topic below. 

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