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Bengals take familiar name rather than trade back in Mel Kiper’s newest mock draft

Mel Kiper shook things up by introducing trades to his most recent mock draft, but the Bengals stayed at five to take a franchise-changing tackle.

Oregon v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Mock draft season is always interesting. Fans and analysts spend plenty of time creating and critiquing mocks for months. One thing that is different about most mock drafts is the absence of trades.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is usually one of those people who avoids predicting trades on top of predicting what practically every NFL team will do in the first round. However, in his most recent mock draft, Kiper has introduced a few trades to shake things up. This help gives a more realistic idea of where certain players will get drafted, and who is more likely to fall.

In this mock draft, the Bengals end up winning by staying where they are and taking one of the best players in the draft:

5. Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

No team in the top 10 has a clearer need than the Bengals’ hole at tackle. They have to keep quarterback Joe Burrow on his feet. Sewell, who opted out of the 2020 season, is my No. 2 prospect overall. The 2019 Outland Trophy winner has everything teams want in a franchise left tackle. Even though he didn’t play last season, his tape from the previous two years is enough to make him the top tackle in this class. Cincinnati could get a 10-year starter.

The fit is an obvious one. The Bengals currently need all the offensive line help they can get. Sewell comes in and starts right away. Jonah Williams either shifts to right tackle this season or soon down the road. That just leaves some holes on the interior of the offensive line to fill. Even if the Bengals add a tackle in free agency, Williams would likely get slid inside to guard next to Sewell on the left side.

The more interesting part of this mock is what Kiper predicts prior to the Bengals selection. We all know that Trevor Lawrence is going to the Jaguars first overall, but then Kiper has the Falcons winning a bidding war for the second overall selection. The trade up two selections ends up being a little more costly than expected, but Kiper explained why the Falcons gave up so much to get the rights to Zach Wilson.

So for Atlanta to move up two spots, it’s going to have to send the Jets the No. 4 pick, likely its second-round picks this year and more picks. That’s a lot to give up, sure, but there is going to be competition. The Jets should take the best deal on the table, and this one means they only drop two spots and pick up prime assets after that.

That means things could’ve been even better for the Bengals if the quarterback needy Falcons lost the bidding war and remained in front of Cincinnati. Meaning three of the four picks in front of them likely would be quarterbacks. As it stood in Kiper’s mock, the Dolphins reunited DeVonta Smith with Tua Tagovailoa, and the Jets ended up snatching Kyle Pitts to give Sam Darnold a versatile weapon.

This left the Bengals with an interesting choice. They are sitting there with Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase still on the board with a possible quarterback needy team right behind them in the Eagles after trading away Carson Wentz. In fact, they will likely get some pretty tempting trade offers in this very position to move back so another team can draft a potential franchise quarterback.

Are guys like Sewell and Chase more valuable than players like wide receiver Jaylen Waddle or tackle Rashawn Slater with more picks? That is an interesting debate Cincinnati’s front office and coaches will have to discuss.

It is hard to be made with the Bengals landing an absolute stud at a position that has been a major need for far too long now in Sewell, though.