The Cincinnati Bengals were looking like a team that was set to get a top-three pick, which could have netted them Oregon Ducks tackle Penei Sewell. But after winning two of their last three, the Bengals will now pick No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the draft just months away as we enter the new year, the big-name analysts are going releasing their ideas of what teams may do. As for ESPN’s Todd McShay, the Bengals went in the direction many fans expected — offensive line.
McShay, in his first mock draft since the draft order has been set, paired the Bengals with Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. Here’s what he said on Cincinnati’s decision to take Slater.
“Just four teams allowed more sacks than Cincinnati this season, not something you want to see right after drafting a franchise quarterback at No. 1 overall. Jonah Williams, a 2019 first-round tackle, is the only entrenched starter on the offensive line at the moment, and with Joe Burrow returning from a bad knee injury, protection will be even more important in 2021. A 2020 opt-out, Slater projects best as an interior lineman — possibly at center — but he also has experience at both left and right tackle. With Penei Sewell gone, Slater is the top offensive lineman on my board here and will help fix a woeful unit with growing importance to the future success of this Bengals team. But also watch for the Bengals to try to move up to get Sewell,” McShay wrote.
The Bengals have been linked to a few different prospect, and they aren’t all on the offensive line either — even though that is a massive need for Cincinnati. The AFC North’s worst team in 2020 have been mocked LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and other players such as even Sewell, if he drops.
While fans would like to see Burrow get some additional protection, the Bengals will have ample opportunity to help themselves in free agency and then set their sights on a top-tier defensive end or cornerback, assuming they can’t re-sign both William Jackson and Carl Lawson.
That said, the next few months will be an interesting few for the future of the franchise.