The Bengals are going to be an interesting selection come draft night. It really depends on how the picks in front of them go.
Will a linebacker like Devin White or Devin Bush fall to them? Could they address Andy Dalton’s successor? One of the Bengals biggest needs that has been the least likely to be addressed in most mock drafts has been their need at offensive tackle.
The Athletic’s Jay Morrison introduces a scenario in his most recent seven-round mock draft that could lead to Cincinnati to addressing their need at offensive tackle. Here is his first round pick for the Bengals:
Round 1 (11th overall): Tackle Jawaan Taylor, Florida
As badly as they need linebackers, and as steep as the drop in talent is after the two Devins, this still feels like a best-case scenario for the Bengals even with the Broncos plucking Bush right out from under them. Even if the Broncos and everyone else in the top 10 pass on Bush and he’s still sitting there, it feels more likely the Bengals target the offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Taylor will have every chance to beat out Bobby Hart to be the starter at right tackle Sept. 8 in Seattle. The surprising signing of Hart to a three-year, $16.2 million contract last month didn’t mean the Bengals view him as their starter. It simply was an assurance that they wouldn’t have to go into the draft being absolutely forced to take a tackle. Taylor started at right tackle as a true freshman at Florida and stayed on that side of the line for three years, so that should ease his transition to the pro level.
Taylor would clearly be an upgrade at right tackle. He could probably come in and start at that position for years, and hopefully when Cordy Glenn moves on, move to left tackle. His floor is absolutely a starter at right tackle though. He is athletic and powerful, and aside from cleaning up some minor technical things he is pretty much the dream tackle for NFL team, especially with the regression in overall talent at that position.
One of reasons so many people are split on whether the Bengals will actually address offensive tackle in the first round isn’t because fans disagree on the need. It is more that it is questionable whether the Bengals view it as a need.
In Morrison’s mock, it provides the most likely situation for Cincinnati to make this pick. Both White and Bush had already been selected ahead of the 11th overall pick. Ed Oliver was also off the board, which left Taylor with little competition. Even offensive lineman Jonah Williams had already been selected.
This is a pick that will greatly help the offense that saw Bobby Hart struggle to consistently be even a reliable right tackle. He struggled with penalties and in pass protection. He occasionally flashed potential as a run blocker, though. Taylor would instantly come in and secure that side of the football and ease Andy Dalton’s worries.
The reason most fans have an issue with the possibility of the Bengals passing up on securing an instant starter at linebacker is illustrated with Morrison’s mock, though. Obviously in this draft, Cincinnati didn’t have that option, but it serves the same purpose to show the issues it causes.
Morrison didn’t have the Bengals addressing their need at linebacker until the third round with Vosean Joseph out of Florida. Joseph has potential, he has the athletic ability to cover and move around the field better than most Bengals’ linebackers. However, he struggles with diagnosing plays. He also has issues getting off blocks.
That means the Bengals will likely end up relying on guys like Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans and hoping that Malik Jefferson shows he was worthy of the third round pick spent on him last season.
This is really a hole the Bengals have dug themselves into. They have talked at great lengths about how they need to address the linebacker position after it was the clear weak link to the Bengals 32nd ranked defense last season. They didn’t properly address it via free agency. They only re-signed Brown, who got injured early last season, and he ended up playing hurt before being put on injured reserve.
Meanwhile, The Bengals re-signed Hart to a deal that gives him fringe starting right tackle money, and their new offensive line coach Jim Turner talked about how much he believed in Hart even before the team re-signed him.
That leaves linebacker as the far more pressing need, and it is unfortunate that need may play into the Bengals drafting a player they don’t think is as good as someone else at a position of need. However, that is the position the Bengals have left themselves in after the free agency worked itself out.
What do you think about the Bengals addressing offensive tackle with the 11th overall selection? Also if you want to see the rest of Morrison’s draft you can find that here.