A hyperactive free agency period from the Cincinnati Bengals was not only exciting, but refreshing to watch as well. Several needs for the team have been filled for at least the 2020 season, but there are still major question marks regarding their roster as we inch closer to the NFL Draft.
On area Cincinnati didn’t focus a lot of effort in improving this month was the offensive line. Xavier Su’a-Filo was signed for what’s essentially a one-year deal and he’s not much of an upgrade over John Miller, who was their starter at right guard from last year. Su’a-Filo is projected to start at that spot, much like Bobby Hart is expected to compete with Fred Johnson for the right tackle job, but what if the Bengals found two upgrades at those positions immediately after selecting Joe Burrow with the first pick?
Joe Marino of The Draft Network decided that’s the route the Bengals should pursue in his latest mock draft:
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
While the right side of the offensive line is still shaky, the Bengals were uncharacteristically active in free agency adding the likes of D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Vonn Bell to their defense. With those reinforcements, the Bengals appear mostly ready for the Joe Burrow era to begin.
33. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
65. Robert Hunt, IOL, Louisiana
If you go through every position and tally off which players are supposed to go in the first round, you’ll probably end up with more than 32 players in total. Jones is a projected top-25 pick at offensive tackle, but it’s entirely conceivable that he slips through the cracks ends up as a high pick in the second round.
The Bengals would give him one of the best chances to start immediately, though it would be a transition since he’s never played anywhere else besides left tackle. Jones has the natural footwork and hand usage to make it work; he showed as much in the later portion of his final season at Houston and at the Senior Bowl.
Jones has the body to succeed at guard early in his career as well, but adding Hunt a round later would ideally keep Jones outside. Hunt is this year’s prime example of a college tackle sliding inside and dominating at guard. He has immense natural strength and distributes power in a clean and fluid manner. He’s everything Jim Turner should want to compete with Su’a-Filo.
The plain truth is that the Bengals aren’t likely to fill every one of their remaining needs in this draft unless they acquire more picks via trading down, perhaps multiple times. Snagging good players is never a bad objective, even if it means linebacker and wide receiver aren’t addressed before the third day of the draft. Protecting Burrow should be the primary goal anyways, and this plan fulfills that goal very nicely.