It’s not even February yet and half of the NFL seems to be looking for a new quarterback.
The clubs drafting in the top four picks of the NFL draft will have a much easier time acquiring a new passer, and the Cincinnati Bengals will be praying that at least three of them will fly off the board before they’re on the clock.
That’s precisely what occurred in a recent mock draft from Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately for Bengals fans, Penei Sewell was the lone non-quarterback selected in the first four picks, which left the Bengals with arguably the best player on the board in Ja’Marr Chase.
Palazzolo offered a logical explanation for why the Bengals would benefit just as much from taking the best receiver on the board as opposed to just drafting the second tackle behind Sewell.
5. CINCINNATI BENGALS: WR JA’MARR CHASE, LSU
While Bengals fans would have loved Sewell to shore up the offensive line, Chase could end up being even better for their offense in the long term. He reunites with former LSU teammate Joe Burrow and gives the Bengals a solid route-runner who simply knows how to win at the catch point at each level of the field. Burrow does need better protection, but receivers who get open quickly also protect the quarterback, and Chase produced a 91.1 PFF grade in 2019 while averaging 21.2 yards per reception.
As the offseason progresses and team needs evolve, mock drafts will do so as well. By the time April rolls around, the Bengals may need a player like Chase more than Sewell based on how they attacked the roster in free agency.
It’s evident that the Bengals don’t want to go into the draft needing starters at offensive line. You can thank Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic for that critical information. If they focus most of their free agent spending on fixing that group, A.J. Green’s replacement at receiver may have to wait until the first few rounds of the draft.
Chase would be the ideal rookie pass-catcher to join Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in the receivers room. His history with Burrow is obvious, but Chase brings field-stretching and contested catch ability all in an NFL-ready body at just 21 years of age this upcoming season.
He might honestly be the right pick with Sewell and the other offensive tackles available as well, but we may not be ready for that conversation.