The Bengals have secured the No. 1 overall pick after losing to the Dolphins in Week 16.
Now that the word has come down that Chase Young may finish his senior year at Ohio State rather than declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals’ choice as the projected number one selection is an easy one if they get the top pick.
But who else might Cincinnati select in next year’s draft? Today, in the season’s first three-round mock draft, we take a look at three players who would fill some holes for the Bengals in all the right places.
Joe Burrow, the newly-crowned Heisman Trophy winner, is now everyone’s top choice. The Heisman capped a spectacular week for Burrow, who won the Maxwell Award as the best overall player in the country, the Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, in addition to being named the Associated Press player of the year.
Burrow, at 6-4 and 216 pounds, has led the LSU Tigers to a perfect record of 13-0 and to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff rankings.
An Ohio State graduate transfer who came to LSU in 2018 with two years of eligibility remaining, Burrow completed 78 percent of his passes this year while throwing for 4,715 yards, 48 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also rushed for 289 yards and added three touchdowns on the ground.
A prototypical NFL quarterback with excellent size, mobility and outstanding accuracy, Burrow dominated the SEC this year, including the game that counted most against Alabama, where he threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns while completing 31 of 39 passes.
Burrow threw for over 300 years in every game but two this year. In a season opening victory against Georgia Southern, he threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns while completing 85 percent of his passes. In week six against Florida, Burrow threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns while completing 21 of 24 passes.
Some scouts have questioned Burrow’s arm strength, however, and there is this word of caution from Walter Football that is likely to give every Bengals’ fan pause:
“Because of the skill-set limitations, they see him as a prospect similar to Andy Dalton or Derek Carr.”
That notion aside, Burrow is hopefully the franchise quarterback the Bengals have been seeking and will oversee a transformation that will see Cincinnati back among the NFL’s elite in a short period of time.
But before that can happen, the Bengals will have to fill a few more glaring holes in their lineup. And as any fan will tell you, it all begins with linebacker.
Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is projected to be a late first round, early second round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Hopefully, he will still be on the board when the Bengals make the first selection of the second round.
At 6-2 and 238 pounds, Murray is a heat-seeking missile who is all over the field and always seems to be around the ball. He is aggressive and a good tackler and has the ability to be a three-down starter in the NFL. He is good in zone coverage and can cover a lot of ground with his 4.67 speed in the 40, and has been compared to a young Thomas Davis, the former first-round selection of the Carolina Panthers and a three-time Pro Bowler.
If Cincinnati takes a quarterback and linebacker in the first two rounds, its third-round selection has got to be an offensive tackle, and Prince Tega Wanogho of Auburn certainly fits the bill.
Wanogho, at 6-7 and 301 pounds, is slated to go anywhere between the first and third rounds and would make an ideal addition to the Bengals’ much-maligned group. He has an outstanding skill set but needs work on his technique. He is long and athletic and does well as a positional blocker in the run game, and has been compared to Greg Little, the second-round selection of the Panthers’ last year.
Of course, nothing ever works out as planned. But, who knows, maybe this is the year that the Bengals get lucky and the chips finally fall their way.