The Bengals have a lot of needs, as evidenced by them selecting at fifth overall in this years draft. They are set at two positions, quarterback and running back. Everything else needs at least additional depth and many need quality starters. The safety room needs depth and they need linebackers to compete with their draft picks from the last two drafts. They lost William Jackson and replaced him with Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie, neither of which are near the level of Jackson. On the defensive line, they are replacing Geno Atkins, who barely played, with Larry Ogunjobi. While Ogunjobi might not be as talented as Atkins, Atkins may be starting to decline and did not give them anything last season, so anything is an upgrade over last year. They flipped Carl Lawson for Trey Hendrickson which at best is most likely a wash, and probably a slight downgrade, but they get Hendrickson at a much better contract. They need to add starters for most of the offensive line spots, with Jonah Williams being the only long-term starter on the team. They have two good receivers, but everyone after that has been a disappointment. Their tight ends have been solid, but not anything special. All in all, there are a variety of ways the Bengals can attack the draft and will most likely improve as long as they take good players regardless of position.
Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State, 6’5″, 301lbs, 9.28 RAS
Samuel Cosmi, Texas, 6’5″, 315lbs, 9.99 RAS
Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa, 6’8″, 311lbs, 10 RAS
Walker Little, Stanford, 6’7″, 313lbs, 8.9 RAS
The Bengals still have a need at offensive tackle despite the signing of Riley Reiff. He is on a one year deal and may need to kick inside anyways. Their best option is to select Penei Sewell at 5, but if they don’t do that they will need to get someone on day two. Radunz and Cosmi could both use some development in terms of anchoring, but they both are athletic freaks at tackle who will be upgrades day one. Having Reiff slide inside to guard not only gives an upgrade at tackle, but also one at guard. Spencer Brown and Walker Little are both good athletes as well but have a lot of inconsistency in their play. They can develop while playing, and still giving the Bengals a better five man group than they had last year. While I would still recommend selecting Sewell at 5, the best option would be Cosmi in the second round if they go wide receiver round one.
Interior Offensive Line
Landon Dickerson, Alabama, 6’5″, 333lbs
Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma, 6’4″, 302lbs, 10 RAS
Wyatt Davis, Ohio State, 6’3″, 315lbs
Josh Myers, Ohio State, 6’5″, 310lbs
Trey Smith, Tennessee, 6’5″, 321lbs, 9.91 RAS
The interior of the Bengals’ offensive line was bad last year. They could go for either a guard or a center to upgrade the line. They previously spent a first round pick on a center and it didn’t work out. Now, they need to fix that mistake and protect their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. Dickerson and Humphrey are the top two centers in the class, and both could go late first round, or early second round. Dickerson has injury issues, but is an extremely powerful lineman, who could even kick out to guard if needed. Wyatt Davis is one of the top five tackles in the class even after an extremely disappointing season after being projected as a mid-first round pick. Josh Myers is a solid starting caliber center. Trey Smith is an athletic guard who struggled with pad level and lacked good leverage, but is very physically dominant. He was a highly rated recruit coming out of high school.
Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame, 6’6″, 306lbs, 8.56 RAS
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama, 6’5″, 312lbs, 9.68 RAS
Jalen Mayfield, Michigan, 6’5″, 326lbs, 4.89 RAS
Jackson Carman, Clemson, 6’4″, 317lbs
Getting versatile linemen can help the Bengals to get their best five on the field. All four of these linemen are viewed as potentially playing both depending on who you ask. In my opinion, Eichenberg is definitely best as a tackle, and Mayfield is definitely best as a guard. Leatherwood and Carman can most likely play both positions.
Pat Freiermuth, Penn State, 6’5″, 251lbs
Brevin Jordan, Miami (FL), 6’2″, 247lbs, 4.54 RAS
Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame, 6’3″, 241lbs, 8.91 RAS
Hunter Long, Boston College, 6’5″, 254lbs, 8.6 RAS
The Bengals should consider taking Kyle Pitts at 5. They reportedly are between Ja’Marr Chase and Penei Sewell. If they don’t take Pitts, they could use a high caliber tight end. They currently have Drew Sample and CJ Uzomah, but could use an upgrade. If they take Freiermuth, he can be an immediate upgrade. In round three, Jordan, Tremble, and Long could all play with Sample and Uzomah and hopefully develop over the next few years. While it is not the biggest need, they could use an upgrade. My recommendation would be to draft Freiermuth in the second round, if they decide to draft a tight end at all on day two. The most likely scenario is picking either a tight end who fell or waiting until day three to get a developmental tight end.
Joe Tryon, Washington, 6’5″, 259lbs, 9.29 RAS
Jayson Oweh, Penn State, 6’4″, 257lbs, 9.92 RAS
Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest, 6’3″, 268lbs, 9.74 RAS
Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL), 6’6″, 266lbs, 7.75 RAS
Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt, 6’5″, 276lbs
Payton Turner, Houston, 6’5″, 268lbs, 9.74 RAS
Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma, 6’2″, 253lbs, 5.13 RAS
The Bengals did not have a good pass rush last year, and in the offseason they replaced Carl Lawson with Trey Hendrickson. They currently have Sam Hubbard opposite of Hendrickson, and nothing behind them. Tryon and Oweh are players who could play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 due to their athleticism, but would give the best year one production in a 3-4. Basham and Rousseau are bigger ends who can kick inside on passing downs. I believe Rousseau’s best fit would be as a defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end and gaining an additional twenty pounds, but NFL teams will most likely draft him to play defensive end in a 4-3. In round three, Payton Turner is a freakish athlete that has experience playing inside as well. Perkins can develop into a good 4-3 defensive end in a few years. Odeyingbo tore his Achilles in January and may not be back for the beginning of the season. I do not think it would be the best use of resources to select a defensive end in round two given their other needs. If it were me, I would select Payton Turner if he was available in round three.
Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU, 6’2″, 205lbs, 9.77 RAS
Dyami Brown, North Carolina, 6’0″, 189lbs, 8.38 RAS
Nico Collins, Michigan, 6’4″, 215lbs, 9.57 RAS
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State, 5’11”, 194lbs, 4.72 RAS
By all accounts it appears that the Bengals are leaning towards Ja’Marr Chase at 5. If they do not take Chase, they will look to add an outside receiver on day two to give Burrow another weapon. Marshall has versatility to play outside or in the slot, and is a gifted athlete. He played mainly outside in 2019, and mainly in the slot in 2020. Dyami Brown can also play inside or out and provides a good downfield threat. Nico Collins is an outside receiver who provides a good height/weight/speed profile and can hopefully develop into a very good wide receiver. Tylan Wallace best trait is how he plays 50-50 balls. He has played mainly on the outside, but could provide slot versatility. If the Bengals don’t go Chase, their best option would be to select Terrace Marshall Jr. from LSU. You would reunite Joe Burrow with one of his former college targets, and Marshall has the potential to be a number one receiver given he would be complemented by Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.