The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets. The Cincinnati Bengals are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
While the Cincinnati Bengals weren’t expected to blow the world away, many did think the 2020 season would go a little better than 2019. The main reason for this, Joe Borrow. The first overall pick and boy-wonder for the Bengals was finally playing. The team also took Tee Higgins in the second and then really bolstered their defense. This was especially true in free agency when they grabbed DJ Reader, Vonn Bell, Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes.
Unfortunately, the one area they really didn’t address was the offensive line. This along with injuries upon injuries would be the story of the 2020 season for the Bengals. Between Joe Mixon, Trae Waynes, DJ Reader, Geno Atkins, Trey Hopkins, C.J. Uzomah, Jonah Williams and sadly Joe Borrow, the Bengals were mired in injuries. They would beat the Steelers and Titans, two playoff teams, along with the Jaguars and Texans while tieing with the Eagles to go 4-11-1 in 2020.
There were some great performances though during the 2020 season. The duo of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell proved to be one of the better safety groups in the NFL. The return game with Darius Phillips and Brandon Wilson were also very strong. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are about as surehanded as it gets. The young linebackers also got better as the season went on. Lastly, Joe Burrow when healthy was electric.
It is for this reason along with the pickups of Riley Reiff, Trey Hendrickson, Larry Ogunjobi, Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie, Ricardo Allen in free agency that many are thinking the Bengals make a big jump in 2021. Now some areas have been addressed and they can focus on filling some of the major holes they still have.
2021 NFL Picks
Cincinnati will have nine picks to use in the 2021 NFL Draft
First Round (one pick): No. 5
Second Round (one pick): No. 38
Third Round (one pick): No. 69
Fourth Round (one pick): No. 111
Fifth Round (one pick): No. 149
Sixth Round (one pick): No. 189
Seventh Round (two picks): No. 231, No. 233
IOL- Of every need for the Bengals, this one is the biggest. Frankly, a mixture of Quinton Spain, Michael Jordan, Billy Price and Xavier Su’a-Filo are not going to get it done for the whole season. Once Trey Hopkins is back, center will be better and Spain can be serviceable but grabbing talent here should only help.
Tackle- Jonah William and Riley Reiff are a solid tandem at tackle. The problem is that Williams cant stay healthy and Reiff is only here for a year. The backup options of Adeniji and Johnson are fine as backups but not starters. The Bengals still absolutely need to get everyone they can to protect Joe Burrow.
EDGE- Similarly to tackle, EDGE rushers were addressed with Hendrickson after the Bengals lost Carl Lawson to the Jets. That said, it is only him and Hubbard when looking at the roster currently. Getting another guy who can rush the quarterback is extremely important here and having a rotation of whoever that is along with Hendrickson and Hubbard is definitely not a bad thing.
Linebacker- The young core of linebackers are starting to come together. Should they continue to improve the trio of Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither could be one of the most underrated positions on this team. That said Markus Bailey is still an unknown and Jordan Evans provides more intrinsic value than ability on the field.
Cornerback- With Trae Waynes healthy and the additions of Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie, this unit looks to be solid. That said the depth behind them of Phillips and Apple are fine but not great. Getting one more cornerback to round out the cornerback position certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Wide Receiver- There are some people who cover the Bengals that have been saying this position needs help badly. When looking at the position, they are 100% correct. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are really good but not enough. Auden Tate is more of a situational player and Mike Thomas is a really nice backup. That said in today’s NFL with great quarterbacks, having three really good options and then the rest of these guys would absolutely help the Bengals offense.
Tight End- Lastly tight end while not being the biggest need is absolutely one they need to address. Drew Sample was surprisingly good at catching the ball last season and Uzomah when healthy is a good option too. That said, neither are true number one options. If the Bengals can find a better option or even someone who could develop into one, they should seriously consider it.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 5: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The trade between the 49ers and Dolphins helped the Bengals in a major way. Now it looks like there maybe even all four picks before them will be quarterbacks. That leaves the Bengals with their pick of the lot between Sewell, Chase and Pitts. The thing is that the Bengals desperately need help on the offensive line and Sewell is a generational talent. Taking him and bumping Williams or Reiff to guard makes this team’s line just that much better. When the goal for the team is keep Joe Burrow healthy and let him do his thing then drafting Sewell makes the most sense here.
Pick No. 38: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
He may not be Chase, but being able to get Terrace Marshall in the second would have the Bengals jumping out of their seats. Marshall was a big part of the LSU Championship along with Joe Burrow and that former connection may be just what the Bengals need. He is 6’4 and is the outside guy that would allow for Boyd to permanently play the slot. With a trio of Higgins, Boyd and Marshall for Burrow to throw to, Cincinnati would have one of the deadliest and likely most underrated offenses in the NFL.
Pick No. 66: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (FL)
Some have Jordan going in the mid to late second and others in the third. If he is available to the Bengals in the third then they absolutely should take him. Jordan was initially thought to be the best tight end in the class going into the 2020 college football season. Then Pitts showed up and Jordan had a below-average year with Miami. With Jordan, the Bengals can seriously stretch the field. There is no doubt that Burrow will have plenty of weapons and if this situation happens then the Bengals will be loaded after day two of the draft.
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