The Bengals are going to spend most of their premier draft capital on directly helping Joe Burrow. The real question is in what order? Will they use the 5th pick to take an offensive weapon, consensus would say that would be Ja’Marr Chase? The two played together at LSU in 2019 and they led the Tigers to a national championship. Or does the front office believe that they best way to help Burrow is to protect him? That is certainly a top priority as he is coming off a torn ACL and the injury is the only reason why he did not finish 2020 as the most sacked quarterback. Regardless of how good the talent is, it’s difficult to have your young franchise quarterback go on to play at a high level for over a decade like Burrow seems capable of doing. Just look at the Colts and the Andrew Luck situation. One of the best quarterback prospects of all time, but the team seemed to never actually invest in the protection of him.Embed from Getty Images
Chase gives this offense a number one threat right out of the gate and one that they should have for many years to come. It’s unbelievable that this team should have the opportunity to reunite Burrow and Chase and try to replicate what they both did in 2019 at LSU. Tyler Boyd may also not be on the team beyond 2021, so receiver will be a major need next year if not addressed now. With a trio of Burrow, Chase, and Higgins all on rookie contracts and an expanding salary cap, I would argue that it’s easier to add impact veterans on the offensive line than it is to add impact receivers.
Just this offseason, Cincinnati added Riley Reiff to shore up the right side of their line. Other stars like Trent Brown, Gabe Jackson, Corey Linsley, Rodney Hudson, and Trent Williams are just some of the names that were either available free agents or found new homes this offseason. If they had been in the market for a receiver, the options were less than enticing. Nelson Agholor and Corey Davis were notable signings, along with former Bengal A.J. Green. I would expect the pool of available linemen to be deeper and more talented than the pool of receivers moving forward as well.
In the second round of our Bengals mock draft 2.0, we project Cincinnati to take linebacker Nick Bolton.
The Bengals addressed the down-lineman on defense with the additions of Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi, but there are still a lot of question marks at the linebacker level. Bolton would fill the void at the heart of the defense and would develop into a tackling machine that this defense desperately needs.
The big question here is why not an offensive lineman? Certainly, a valid question and one that we seriously considered. The tackle spots seem set with Riley Reiff and Jonah Williams, so what guard or center would they take here over a hugely needed linebacker? Creed Humphrey is still available, but there projects to be impactful interior lineman still available at the start of the 3rd round. They would be selecting a player who spent serious time in college at the tackle spot, but appears to be destined to move inside at the NFL level.