Right now, the Bengals own the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which kicks off April 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. That’s the only thing we know for sure. But even that is subject to change.
The Bengals could decide to switch in the draft to pick another first-round pick and help shore up some of the gaps left from another year of free-agent frenzy that saw the defense almost completely reshaped.
Or Cincinnati could stay where it is and choose from a trio of “generational talent,” any one of whom could help the Bengals become a contender sooner rather than later. Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts have all been outwitted in Cincinnati by various experts.
So, assuming the Bengals stick around, and assuming all three are available when the Bengals number is called, who do they pick?
Most experts agree that Cincinnati’s top three needs are offensive linemen, wide receiver and lead backs. So that would seem to remove Pitts from the equation.
The Bengals did little to improve their offense during the offseason, but they selected former Minnesota Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff, a first-round pick for the Detroit Lions in the 2012 NFL Draft who has started in 127 of 135 games played in his career. run, to occupy the correct tackle position. And Cincinnati didn’t address the wide receiver position at all in free agency, despite the loss of AJ Green, returns specialist Alex Erickson and John Ross.
So two factors should play a role in Cincinnati’s selection. First, what is the position of greatest need? And second, among offensive linemen and receivers, which position group is the deepest to result in the least drop between the first and second round picks?
If the Bengals draft Sewell in the first round, that would leave them looking for a wide receiver in the second round. The best of the remaining group is likely to be Mississippi’s Elijah Moore, who ran an impressive 4.32 40 on his Pro Day. But at 5-9 and 178 pounds, questions about its durability abound.
Next up is probably Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, who, at 6-2 and 210 pounds, is the size the Bengals covet, and his 4.39 40 would give them the on-field threat they lacked.
If Cincinnati goes with Chase, then an offensive lineman would be available in the second round, and the best of the remaining group would likely be Samuel Cosmi from Texas. Cosmi, who is 6-5 7/8 and weighs 308 pounds, was named First Team All Big-12 in 2020. He ran 4.84 40 on his pro day and performed an impressive 36 reps on the bench press.
Next on the list is probably Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield. Mayfield, who won’t turn 21 until May, is young and relatively inexperienced and would be a development project. Which is probably not something the Bengals need right now.
It is time to choose.
With the fifth pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select: Penei Sewell, offensive tackle from the University of Oregon.
Due to his unique combination of size and speed, Cincinnati then goes with Bateman in the second round. Bateman, a three-year starter for the Golden Gophers, finished his college career with 147 receptions for 2,395 yards (an average of 16.3 yards per reception) and 19 touchdowns.
Unless they don’t.
It’s equally possible that the Bengals choose to select Chase at pick five and Cosmi, or another offensive lineman, at pick 38.
Either way, Cincinnati would have addressed its two biggest needs and selected players who will be accessories, and probably even All-Pros, in its lineup for the next decade or so.
Finally, a round without much drama. With the No. 69 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Pittsburgh Edge running back Rashad Weaver. Another three-year-old actor, Weaver recovered from a torn ACL to record 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2020. At 6-4 and 265 pounds, Weaver finished his career with 17 sacks and ran 4.85 40 on his pro day. .