The Bengals first overall pick seems pretty clear at this point. The drama surrounding the pick seems fairly manufactured at this point, but there is plenty more for Cincinnati fans to distract themselves with leading up to the draft. Like what the team will do with their second round pick. A recent mock draft by Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak actually brings up a situation where Cincinnati doesn’t end up making a pick in the second round, but instead they trade back into the end of the first round to select another difference maker for their rebuilding team.
The trade has Cincinnati sending their Round 2 (No. 33 overall) and Round 5 (No. 129 overall) picks to Tennessee who sends back their Round 1 (No. 29 overall) selection in order for the Bengals to take LSU linebacker Patrick Queen.
I think Patrick Queen is clearly worth a first-round selection, especially in this class. Queen has a high ceiling as an underneath zone defender and is a quality run defender as both a WILL and a MIKE. Unlike a lot of smaller linebackers, he’s not cautious. He’s super aggressive working down into the trees and plugging gaps to unlock his teammates. The Bengals just grabbed the captain of their offense from LSU; now they get back up into the first round for the captain of their defense, getting ahead of Green Bay at No. 30 and Kansas City at No. 32 — both were strong candidates to take Queen in Round 1.
There are two things to talk about here, which includes the idea of trading up as well as drafting Queen. We’ll talk about Queen first. The linebacker has been ascending since the National Championship as well as the analysts having time to catch up on tape of the young linebacker. He has a ton of room to grow as he will be turning 21 in August. He also only really started his last season. He is incredibly athletic, and he has incredible instincts that led to 12 tackles for a loss last season. Queen may not be a finished product, and he may not be able to step in and dominate the NFL, but he has the capability to grow into that role very quickly.
Now comes the theory of whether the Bengals should trade back into the first round. They are in a very interesting position with the first pick of the second round. They really only moved up four spots to land a prospect the team likely coveted at a position of extreme need. They also hopped a few very obvious landing spots for Queen, which means if they really want to land Queen this may be the only way of pulling that off, and only having to send a fifth round selection isn’t giving up that much if it means landing a player the franchise views as valuable.
Whether Cincinnati pulls off a trade like this could depend on how much they like a player like Queen more than a prospect like linebacker Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma, who ended up reaching the second round of this mock draft. Things could also change if an incredible top 10 talent starts inexplicably following, which seems to sometimes happens.
If they love Queen, this move makes a ton of sense, but if they feel comfortable with Queen or Murray then they should just hold back. There is also the possibility that they end up sitting back and no one they feel strongly about falls out of Round 1. In that case a trade back makes sense.
Fans should get comfortable with the Bengals going in multiple directions with their second round pick based on how the first round falls. It is easy to say Cincinnati should trade up for player X, or that they should trade back because no one will fall to their pick. However, we always see some shocking things on draft night, so it becomes a matter of who should the Bengals be comfortable trading up for and when they should be ready to trade back.