The Bengals secured their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, last year; however, they failed to protect him at all. Hits accumulated at an enormous pace until Burrow suffered a devastating knee injury versus Washington. After also losing AJ Green to the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, questions arise as to what the Bengals should do at their pick.
Thanks to the Jets trading Sam Darnold and the 49ers sending an enormous package to move up to pick three, the first three picks are almost guaranteed quarterbacks (not to mention potentially four as well). With at least one generational talent seamlessly guaranteed to fall to their lap, all eyes are set to see what the Bengals do to bring this franchise to its long-needed success.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Team Mock Drafts.
Round 1, Pick 5: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This was a toss-up between Sewell and Pitts. Both are generational talents that will impact their respective franchises for years to come; however, the depth at tackle is solid enough to address it in another round. If the Bengals were to give up Pitts here, there is a major drop-off to the next tight end. The Florida weapon can play anywhere and, honestly, he can replace A.J. Green’s role if Zac Taylor wants him to. The versatility and opportunity cost at this pick makes this obvious. Side note: Ja’Marr Chase would be a great option, but he is not a generational talent like these two, and the depth at wide receiver is amazing.
For more on Pitts, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 2, Pick 38: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
A solid offensive line is a top priority to protect Burrow and make this offense succeed. Riley Reiff was brought in on a one-year deal, but that is only a patch, not a solution. Radunz proved to the world that he is worth a first-round pick at the Senior Bowl. He is amazing, to put it lightly. The drop-off from Sewell to Radunz day-one is not that far whatsoever. The issue lies in the potential that was lost from the Oregon product: our report states that he could be the greatest tackle of all time. For now, Burrow will not be complaining.
For more on Radunz, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 3, Pick 69: Meinerz Quinn, C/OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater
Both the guard and center spots are atrocious. Meinerz lit it up at the Senior Bowl and shocked the world. His pro-day numbers support the insane athleticism that many saw in one-on-ones. The only reason the Bengals can snag an amazing prospect like Meinerz here is just because of the level of competition. This seems to be quite the narrative, because just like Radunz, Meinerz showed that he can dominate at the highest level. Once again, Burrow will be smiling.
For more on Meinerz, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 4, Pick 111: D’Ante Smith, OG/OT, East Carolina
Do you sense a common theme? There are two: build the offensive line and build it with Senior Bowl standouts. Smith dominated at guard and also (for a few reps) at tackle in Senior Bowl one-on-ones. Michael Jordan was the reason for Burrow’s injury, and now he is replaced. Smith may be a top-64 player in this class at guard. Almost two times the value later, the Bengals scoop up their starting guard for at least four years. If the Bengals are to compete, this needs to be the route they take: they addressed defense heavily in free agency, so they need to address offense more now.
Round 5, Pick 149: Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Speaking of the Senior Bowl, the only reason Jones could ever fall this far is due to his performance in those one-on-ones. Before the Senior Bowl, he was locked in as a top-70 prospect. His tenacity, aggressiveness, and overall game are excellent, especially for this value. Jones will provide day-one impact on a roster that desperately needs the depth after losing Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap.
Round 6, Pick 190: Justin Hilliard, LB, Ohio State
Hilliard is a PFF top-100 player and is deservedly so. He plays at such a consistently high level that his play does not drop off that far from his compatriots Pete Werner and Baron Browning. For a sixth-round pick that sounds like quite the steal. Vontaze Burfict’s loss is still felt to this day, and maybe Hilliard can bring back some of the fear factor that once resided in that linebacker corps.
Round 6, Pick 202: Khyiris Tonga, IDL, BYU
Talk about a space-eater. For this value, the ability to get a day-one starter on the interior is phenomenal. In a division where running the ball is so critical, this is the perfect fit. A defensive tackle is not a need, but it certainly could use a boost. The upside Tonga brings for the value is second to none. Write in this pick as one of the most impactful for this draft for years to come.
Round 7, Pick 235: Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
This was quite the steal. Powell may not be an elite option, but he certainly is worth a fifth-round pick. He saved the day for Clemson when Justyn Ross was out for the whole year. Powell demonstrated that he could have a starting role in the NFL, and to grab that in the seventh round is insane. The Bengals drafted Tee Higgins from Clemson last year, so they already showed that they like this program and their receiving products. This draft was perfect for the Bengals, and Burrow should be finally able to unleash his potential.
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