On Monday, a report surfaced that the Bengals planned to target pass-rushers after Round 1 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Coincidentally, the final Bengals.com Media Mock Draft has Cincinnati doing just that in Round 2.
Up first in this two-round projection is none other than Joe Burrow, as the LSU Tigers quarterback goes No. 1 overall in a selection made by Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson.
Burrow has been No. 1 on everyone’s big board that night in New Orleans he lifted his index finger into the air to celebrate a national title. All the way back on Jan. 14, a pandemic and what seems like a century ago. Everything that has emerged since has kept him there.
Then with the 33rd overall pick, the Bengals go with Wisconsin Badgers defender Zack Baun, one of the most intriguing pass-rushers in the 2020 draft class, and this was Hobson’s reasoning:
Back in February at the NFL scouting combine, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, said he was looking for a certain kind of backer: “Start with before the ball is ever snapped stuff … Command of the huddle, command of leadership. Communicative guy. A guy that can cover a back or a tight end or fit a gap. Leadership. Playmaking.”
Now two months later the beauty is Bynes can be that guy right away, but the 6-3, 235-pound Baun, a former high school quarterback, sounds like a worthy student. He would seem to fit the elements needed for a SAM backer with enough pop off the edge for 12.5 sacks last season married with deft coverage skills.
He also said at the combine there’s tape of him breaking up some deep passes and said one team that week called him, “The Toy,” because of his versatility. The Bengals saw that diversity in the Senior Bowl when he played off the ball against them for the North.
Baun could address the Bengals’ need for a linebacker and desire for another pass-rusher, as he was a force off that edge at Wisconsin as a senior this past season. He finished with 19.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 76 total tackles, one interception, two pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
Baun is widely viewed as a first-round prospect, so getting him with the 33rd pick would be solid value.
In this mock draft, some of the names still on the board for the Bengals in Round 2 include Baylor Bears wide receiver Denzel Mims, Iowa Hawkeyes defensive end A.J. Epenesa, and LSU Tigers safety Grant Delpit.