The 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28, which means that The Game Haus will be debuting 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 2022 NFL Draft targets. The Cincinnati Bengals are the subject of today’s 2022 NFL Draft profile.
The Bengals shocked the NFL world last season, as they won the AFC Championship Game and were the AFC representatives in Super Bowl LVI. Their record ballooned from 4-11-1 in 2020 to 10-7 in 2021 and first in their division.
Cincinnati secured their first playoff win since 1988 over the Raiders in the Wild Card Round, ending the longest postseason losing streak in American professional sports. After that win, Cincinnati knocked off the AFC’s number one overall seed in the Titans, despite Joe Burrow being sacked nine times. To top it off, they defeated the two-time AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs for the second time in one month in the Championship game.
2021 was an overwhelming success for the Bengals franchise. Now, the team must try and continue their dominance despite a massive uptick in talent across (almost) the entirety of the conference. Here is how they can use their first three draft selections to return to the Super Bowl.
2022 NFL Picks
Cincinnati will have three pick to use in the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick): No. 31
Second Round (one pick): No. 63
Third Round (one pick): No. 95
Offensive line- The poor construction and play of the offensive line was the main reason the Bengals lost the Super Bowl. Despite the work they have done on the line through free agency, more depth and talent is needed.
Tight end- Cincinnati lost their starting tight end, T.J. Uzomah, in free agency. They need a replacement, not just for pass-catching purposes, but a good blocking tight end also serves their offensive line needs.
Cornerback- The defensive back play was good in 2021, but the team could also use an upgrade on the outside to keep up with the new talent in the AFC.
2022 Draft Targets
Pick No. 31: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Iowa’s football program has a reputation of sending high-quality offensive line talent to the NFL. If the Bengals do want to continue to rebuild this offensive line through the draft, taking Linderbaum is as close to a sure thing as Cincinnati can get at the second-to-last pick of the first round.
Linderbaum is a Rimington Trophy winner, a unanimous All-American and a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection. In the draft, interior offensive linemen tend to fall while tackles rise. There is a real chance this Iowa Hawkeye could end up being the most solid in the entire 2022 draft class, despite his supposed value.
Pick No. 63: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
There are some very talented defensive ends falling to late second round in many a mock draft. Keep in mind that getting to the quarterback in this conference will now be more important than ever, so if the Bengals see one they cannot turn away, do not be surprised if they forgo their secondary in this round.
While Taylor-Britt’s stats do not necessarily jump off of the page, he has the makings of a solid cover corner. He secured 51 total tackles, one sack, one interception and eleven passes defended in 2021, while starting all 12 games. As he secured more playing time from his sophomore season onward, his stats stayed relatively consistent (if the COVID-shortened 2020 season were to be adjusted).
That’s what the Bengals need, is consistency at this position. Not a flashy pick, but could pay dividends very soon.
Pick No. 95: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Simply put, Ruckert is the easy choice if he is available with this pick. He is a solid tight end who will enter the NFL directly from a pro-ready offense, which is about all the Bengals can ask.
Ruckert had 309 yards and just three touchdowns, which is a downturn from what his 2020 was shaping up to be. In that short season, he had 151 yards and five touchdowns. But it should be taken into consideration that there were multiple early round pass catchers on the Buckeye’s roster last season, so the goal line workload shrunk.
This pick works for Cincinnati, if he is available. Plus, he’ll get to stay in Ohio, so maybe it’s a win-win for both sides.
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