The Cincinnati Bengals have acquired their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. What they failed to acquire is a protection system for Burrow and as a result, he tore his ACL in November.
Burrow can be the real deal but only if his talents are maximized. The Bengals have a pair of wide receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who can help Burrow thrive in the NFL but they could use a ‘Z’ wide receiver and a tight end to complete the unit.
On defense, the Bengals need to strengthen their secondary and could use cornerback help on the outside and in the slot. The situation will get even worse if William Jackson III walks in free agency. Adding more interior defensive linemen, particularly a pass-rushing defensive tackle, could help unlock Carl Lawson’s talents and a developing secondary, assuming Lawson is retained by the Bengals.
More than anything, the Bengals need to grow and add to their offensive line. It is their absolute highest priority. Cincinnati has had an alarmingly bad offensive line far too long and protecting Joe Burrow should now be the focus of the offseason.
Round 1 Pick 5: Rashawn Slater, offensive lineman, Northwestern
The dire need resides on the offensive line and the most likely scenario includes offensive tackle prospect Penei Sewell being off the board at this juncture. Cincinnati would then be forced to select the next best available offensive line prospect, which is Slater. The Northwestern product has the experience to play tackle or guard and would provide an immediate upgrade at either position.
Round 2 Pick 6: Aaron Banks, interior offensive line, Notre Dame
One of the better interior offensive line prospects in the draft, Banks adds a reliable presence in the middle of the offensive line. Assuming the Bengals are able to acquire another offensive lineman in free agency, this would bolster the offensive line almost to completion. At this stage, the Bengals can start to breathe a bit easier about keeping Burrow upright and begin to turn their focus elsewhere in the later rounds.
Round 3 Pick 5: Tre Brown, cornerback, Oklahoma
A stud in Mobile during the week of Senior Bowl practice, Brown possesses an impressive combination of athleticism and coverage skills that are badly needed for a struggling pass defense. Brown projects to be a slot cornerback in the NFL, as he stands in at just under 5-foot-10 but that is another position in need of an upgrade, so this selection amounts up to a solid add. Assuming they re-sign William Jackson III, then two out of the three cornerback positions are suddenly very well-defended.
Round 4 Pick 6: Dayo Odeyingbo, interior defensive lineman, Vanderbilt
One of the better defensive linemen, Odeyingbo has seen his draft stock dip after he tore his Achilles in January. The Vanderbilt defensive lineman projects well at either a seven-technique position or a three-technique, which are both needs for this Bengals defense. Assuming Cincinnati re-signs edge-rusher Carl Lawson and one-technique defensive tackle Mike Daniels, the addition of Odeyingbo will help maximize the pass-rushing potential of three-quarters of the defensive line. If Odeyingbo can bounce back to original form, this selection would be an absolute steal on day three.
Round 5 Pick 5: Dyami Brown, wide receiver, UNC
The Bengals currently employ ‘X’ receiver Tee Higgins and big slot receiver Tyler Boyd. What they lack in the passing game is a quick-game ‘Z’ receiver to help maximize Joe Burrow and his passing offense. Brown isn’t known for being a burner but he can be a juiced-up ‘Z’ receiver to complete the young wide-out corps. As a day three pick, Brown would be expected to develop and grow into the offense as a reliable third option.
Round 6 Pick 6: Daelin Hayes, edge-rusher, Notre Dame
Another Senior Bowl stud, Hayes took reps lining up against the tight ends in pass coverage and was one of the more pleasant surprises with how well he did. Hayes projects to be more of a stand-up outside linebacker who can rush the edge, which would either replace or complement Carl Lawson’s play style. Having some coverage abilities will only enhance his value as a versatile pass-rusher who could also immediately contribute on special teams.
Round 7 Pick 5: Deonte Brown, interior offensive line, Alabama
The Alabama offensive lineman falls way down the draft in this mock, as a result of weight concerns. He recently weighed in at 360-plus pounds at the Senior Bowl. With a roll of the dice here, Cincinnati would be wise to invest in this low-risk/high reward type of player. The Bengals would obviously need to round him into shape but Brown could serve as adequate depth at the very least.
Round 7 Pick 7: Paddy Fisher, linebacker, Northwestern
Joining Slater is his Northwestern teammate on defense, as Fisher offers ideal leadership and natural instincts at middle linebacker. While he won’t wow the NFL with his athleticism, he owns the type of resume and intangibles worth using a late-round flier on. Fisher could immediately contribute on special teams and also add depth to a linebacker unit riddled with question marks. This completes a strong overall draft haul.
*The Official 2021 NFL Draft Bible publication is now available for pre-order! Reserve your copy today or go ‘All Access’ and gain instant access to our scouting report database, featuring 500+ profiles and updated daily. Nobody brings you the names you need to know like NFL Draft Bible, become a disciple today and order here!