A two-win December may’ve taken the Cincinnati Bengals out of the running to draft former Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell. The 20-year old Sewell is currently projected to be drafted somewhere in the top five selections, and Cincinnati currently sits at the No. 5 spot in the current NFL Draft order.
If the Bengals truly desire Sewell, they will very likely have to trade up to get him, and that’s what ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks should happen. He explained as such in a recent episode of ESPN’s First Draft podcast:
“Cincinnati Bengals desperately need Penei Sewell for Joe Burrow to keep him upright and healthy coming off that knee [surgery], so I think you go from five to two, the Jets go down from two to five...and Bengals are happy from going to five to two to guarantee Penei Sewell...I think Sewell for Cincinnati makes a lot of sense.”
As a reminder, the Bengals have never traded up in the first round of the draft. They’ve only traded back, and the last time they did that this high in the draft order was almost 30 years ago. That pick ended up becoming quarterback David Klinger.
Editor’s note: The Bengals did trade up from the fifth-overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft to take Ki-Jana Carter with the first-overall pick.
Sewell has received no shortage of hype in the past few months. Kiper Jr. himself compared him to Hall of Fame tackles Orlando Pace, Walter Jones, and Anthony Munoz just last month. There is no going up from that, which is also entirely unfair to Sewell, but that’s a whole other another issue.
Whether or not the Bengals will be interested in Sewell depends entirely on what they do in free agency. Owner and president Mike Brown essentially pinned his team’s four-win season total on a lack of roster talent when he announced that head coach Zac Taylor would return. The Bengals have money to spend this offseason and there are many holes to fill along quarterback Joe Burrow’s offensive line. Logic and reports point to major spending at that position group.
By the time the draft comes around, the Bengals probably won’t be so desperate to trade up for an offensive tackle and do something they’ve never done before. Sewell might end up being as good as Kiper and others say he will, but the Bengals would only take him if he falls to them.