After an exciting beginning to the NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals head into Saturday with four more picks, including the first pick of the day.
After selecting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow in Round 1, they chose Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins in Round 2, and Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson in Round 3.
Outside of quarterback, I don’t think their first three picks will exclude them from drafting any position. They could absolutely bring in another wide receiver or linebacker today, so let’s start there.
There are some big names still available at receiver including Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson and Texas’s Collin Johnson. Both are excellent at high-pointing the ball, which the Bengals value.
If they want to go speed with this pick, they could go with Rhode Island’s Isaiah Coulter who ran a 4.45 at the combine or Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins who ran a 4.35.
They could turn to Texas A&M’s Quartney Davis, Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis, Syracuse’s Trishton Jackson, or Senior Bowl standout Antonio Gandy-Golden.
Even after adding Josh Bynes in free agency and Wilson in Round 3, the Bengals lack depth at linebacker.
Perhaps the best two options are Akeem Davis-Gaither from Appalachian State and Markus Bailey from Purdue. Both are excellent in coverage and only on the board still due to injury concerns.
Oregon’s Troy Dye and Wake Forrest’s Justin Strnad are both excellent athletes who excel in coverage but struggle with tackling and getting off of blocks.
Conversely, Cal’s Evan Weaver and Michigan State’s Joe Bachie are incredible tacklers but limited athletically.
Another position where the Bengals lack depth is edge (defensive end/outside linebacker). With the team running a lot more odd-fronts with standup edge defenders, they could afford to add someone like Trevis Gipson from Tulsa, who is a true 3-4 outside linebacker.
Another option is Boise State’s Curtis Weaver whose biggest negative is that he doesn’t look the part, but the man is productive with 34 sacks in three seasons.
Syracuse University has a pair of intriguing ends in Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman, who could be great late-round options.
Along the interior, Baylor’s James Lynch should be in play as should Northwestern’s Joe Gaziano.
Lynch had 13.5 sacks last season as a 3-4 defensive end. He would essentially be a defensive tackle with the Bengals, playing 3 and 5-technique opposite Geno Atkins in the 3-4 defense.
Gaziano has 30 sacks in four years, giving him the all-time record at Northwestern. He brings the same versatility as Lynch and is a great fit for the Bengals defensive scheme
I tried to warn everyone that the Bengals probably weren’t going to draft an offensive lineman early, fortunately there are still some great options available today.
Prince Tega Wanogho is a massive human being with incredible athletic ability. The Auburn offensive tackle is relatively new to football and has an extremely high ceiling. He was unable to participate in the Senior Bowl due to a medical red flag, which may be why he is still on the board, but this guy is a top talent who could be an institution at offensive tackle.
Kansas tackle Hakeem Adeniji is another incredible athlete who could develop into a starter. South Carolina State’s Alex Taylor and LSU’s Saahdiq Charles are also intriguing developmental options.
Kicking it inside, Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz had hip surgery in 2019 which impacted his tape, but if he can get back to where he was in 2018, he is a top talent.
Other options on the interior include Ben Bartch from St. John’s University in Minnesota, Michigan’s Ben Bredeson, Fresno State’s Netane Muti, and Oregon’s versatile Calvin Throckmorton.
Tight end seems like an unlikely position for the Bengals to attack, but two of my top three are still on the board. Each brings something very different to the table.
Florida Athlatic’s Harrison Bryant is essentially a big receiver who is excellent after the catch because he is so hard to bring down. He compares himself to George Kittle, but his blocking definitely needs to improve for that comparison to be apt.
Missouri’s massive Albert Okwuegbunam is more of a blocker, but he ran a 4.49 40 which makes him an interesting developmental prospect in the passing game.
The Bengals already took steps to recreate their defensive backfield through free agency, but I expect them to add another defensive back today.
Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley is an incredible player who has won matchups against some of college football’s top receivers, including Jalen Reagor and Denzel Mims. He would be a great addition.
Troy Pride Jr. did not have great film at Notre Dame, but stood out for his ability to mirror receivers and jump routes in one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl.
There are also several versatile cornerbacks who could also play in the slot. This is important since Mackensie Alexander is only on a one-year deal.
This includes Virginia’s physical Bryce Hall, Louisiana Tech’s ball-hawking Amik Robertson, and UCLA’s silky-smooth athlete Darnay Holmes.
At safety, Michigan’s Khaleke Hudson has all of the makings of a versatile safety/linebacker hybrid. Which is a great fit in Cincy.
Maryland’s Antoine Brooks Jr. looks like a potential special teams stud, which could fill a few voids left by Clayton Fejedelem .
Speaking of special teams, let’s talk about the kickers.
Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship was the big name throughout the season but it was Georgia Southern’s Tyler Bass whose massive leg stood out at the Senior Bowl.
Top 5 Options
- Prince Tega Wanogho - offensive tackle - Auburn
- Bryce Hall - cornerback - Virginia
- Akeem Davis-Gaither - linebacker - Appalachian State
- Curtis Weaver - edge - Boisie State
- Antonio Gandy-Golden - wide receiver - Liberty