Following the conclusion of the first 15 games of the final NFL Sunday this season, the Bengals are locked into the fifth pick after having a chance to move up to the third pick, but the Texans (third pick going to Dolphins) and Falcons (fourth pick) both lost in Week 17.
The Eagles, who still play Washington later, can pick no higher than sixth due to having a tougher strength of schedule.
Top 5 picks in the 2021 Draft set ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 4, 2021
All told, the Bengals’ recent two-game winning streak only ended up costing them two spots in the draft. I think it’s safe to say the Bengals ending their 11-game losing streak to the Steelers, as well as a two-year drought of no road wins while building positive momentum toward 2021, was worth it.
Had the Bengals managed to beat Baltimore in Week 17, they could have dropped down to the 10th pick. But the Ravens had other plans en route to a 38-3 win over the shorthanded Bengals.
Even though the Bengals will likely miss on a franchise tackle prospect in Penei Sewell, they could still have a chance at other franchise-changing prospects like LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, or Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith.
Now, the question is who will be making the pick for Cincinnati when draft time rolls around. Will Zac Taylor still be the head coach? Will Duke Tobin still be what amounts to the GM?
Very likely on both, but never say never.
In addition to securing their draft spot, the Bengals also now know their 2021 opponents. They were already set to face the AFC West (Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers) and NFC North (Packers, Bears, Lions and Vikings), as well as six games vs. the AFC North (Steelers, Ravens, Browns).
Because the Bengals finished in last place in their division, they’ll face the last-place finishers of the AFC East (Jets) and AFC South (Jaguars).
Of this group, five teams will be in the playoffs (Chiefs, Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Packers). The Bengals will also likely get a reunion game at home vs. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who was instrumental in the Bengals’ emergence in the early 2010s, which included six playoff berths in a seven-year stretch. Four of them came during his time as the defensive coordinator before he left to become the head coach of Minnesota.
What game are you looking forward to most next season? Who do you hope to see picked in the 2021 draft? Let us know in the comments section!
2021 Bengals Opponents
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cleveland Browns
- Green Bay Packers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Minnesota Vikings
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Jacksonville Jaguars