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7-round mock draft seeks to fill Bengals’ glaring holes

Penei Sewell a lock as the Bengals’ first selection

NCAA Football: Oregon at Arizona State
Penei Sewell
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As things now stand, the Cincinnati Bengals are projected to have the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The consensus among most of the draft gurus is that Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence will probably go first to the New York Jets. The Jaguars, who currently sit in the second spot, are also likely to select a quarterback, either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson.

Round 1

Don’t expect the Bengals to take too much time running to the podium to select Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell at No. 3. Sewell, the 2019 Outland Trophy winner and Pac-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year, is already being compared to some of the better offensive tackles to ever play the game.

Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN’s king of the mock draft, calls Sewell “a plug-and-play left tackle in the mold of Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and Anthony Munoz. Yes, I’m saying he’s a Hall of Fame talent, and he’d be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in most other drafts.”

Sewell, at 6-6 and 325 pounds, is a once-in-a-generation athlete. His projected 40 time is 5.0 and he features quickness, strength and excellent hands. While he is not an overpowering run blocker, he is able to use his strength and size to turn defenders away from tackles.

Sewell is a no-brainer, just as Joe Burrow was last year. The question is where to go next. Cincinnati has glaring needs at defensive end, receiver and defensive tackle, and, even with the selection of Sewell, could use another offensive tackle.

Round 2

As of this writing, the Bengals stand dead last in the NFL with only 13 sacks through the first 12 games, so the most logical place to go would be defensive end. And the top defensive end likely to still be on the board when Cincinnati’s turn comes seems to be Michigan’s Kwity Paye.

Paye, at 6-4 and 277 pounds, has the size the Bengals covet and, with a projected 40 time of 4.79, also has the speed and quickness that can make him an instant success on the next level. He began the season with a multi-sack effort against Minnesota and has the versatility to line up inside at tackle.

While Paye has yet to record another sack after his hot start, he had 6.5 sacks last season, when he also recorded 15 tackles for loss.

Round 3

It looks like a sure thing that Cincinnati will be without the services of A.J. Green and John Ross next year, so receiver has to be a priority in next year’s draft, as well. And the best of that bunch who should be available when the Bengals pick in the third round is LSU’s Terrace Marshall, Jr.

Marshall, at 6-4 and 200 pounds, is another big receiver in the mold of Green and this years rookie sensation, Tee Higgins.

Marshall is the Tigers’ leading receiver this season with 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last year, playing behind Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, Marshall still managed 46 receptions for 671 yards and 13 scores. Because of his height and jumping ability, Marshall would give the Bengals red another red-zone target.

Round 4

Defensive line was a game of musical chairs this year, with one defensive tackle after another going the injury route. Despite that fact the D.J. Reader should be back at full strength next year, and even with the return on Josh Tupou, who opted out of this season because of the coronavirus, Cincinnati could still stand to shore up the position.

The best bet for the Bengals in the fourth round of the draft would probably be Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. Wilson tips the scales at 6-5 and 317 pounds, yet has a projected time in the 40 of 5.2 seconds. Although Wilson has gotten off to a sluggish start this year and is primarily viewed as a run stopper, he still totaled five sacks, four passes defended and a forced fumble in 2019.

Round 5

As good as Sewell is, and even with a healthy Jonah Williams back in the lineup on 2021, Cincinnati cannot be satisfied with the state of the offensive line. While there is talent at the guard position, the Bengals need at least one more solid tackle, and there should still be one available in round five in the form of Stanford’s Walker Little.

Little, at 6-7 and 304 pounds, was considered a top prospect until he suffered an season-ending knee injury in the opener against Northwestern last year, and opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the draft. He was an impressive run blocker as a freshman, though, and showed improvement in pass protection as a sophomore before the injury.

Round 6

Because of the lack of depth at defensive end, this seems to be the best place to go with the Bengals’ first pick in the sixth round. And the top edge rusher likely to be available is Quincy Roche of the University of Miami.

Roche, at 6-4 and 235 pounds, is somewhat undersized, transferred to Miami after spending his first three years at Temple, where he tallied 26 sacks. He has good initial explosion off the ball and has the ability to get bigger.

Cincinnati has two selections in the seventh round, the second one coming via the trade of Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks.

Round 7: Part I

With their first selection in the seventh round, the Bengals pick Colorado State receiver Warren Stewart. At 6-6 and 206 pounds, Stewart is another big body who can run and has an impressive catch radius. Although Stewart opted out this year to prepare for the draft, he had an impressive junior season with 77 receptions for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns for the Buffaloes.

Round 7: Part II

Sticking with the mantra of “best man available,” with their final selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Vanderbilt defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo. At 6-6 and 280 pounds and with a projected time of 4.88 in the 40, Odeyingbo is exactly what the Bengals look for at the position.

Although he has shown the ability to set the edge and is a good run defender, Odeyingbo needs to work on his pass-rush production. But he is certainly worth the risk at this point.

Cincinnati’s 2020 draft picks have gotten plenty of work so far this year. Let’s hope the 2021 crew can be as productive, and that the results of that production finally begin to show up in the win column.