The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t made the “big splashes” in outside free agency this year, but they have added a bunch of quality, new faces and are still speaking with others. Even so, they have work to do.
Wide receiver, and the interiors of the offensive and defensive line remain question marks. They may still address these with veterans, but the upcoming NFL Draft will also play a part in re-shaping the roster once again.
This week, John and Anthony broke down the moves, assess what could be next in the draft and even came up with a post-free agency commencement mock draft! Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator was used for the exercise on the podcast.
We only did four rounds, but we think we came up with a pretty good haul for the team. Check it out:
Orange and Black Insider post-free agency four-round Mock Draft
Team needs: Offensive tackle, offensive guard, wide receiver, edge rusher, interior defensive line
Round 1, Pick 5: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
Conundrum: The way the board fell, Cincinnati had Chase, Penei Sewell and Kyle Pitts fall into their lap. All appear to be blue chip prospects and should be able to help the team very early on in their respective careers.
Reasoning: We went with Chase for a variety of reasons, some seemingly strong and others that could be deemed questionable. When you look at what the Bengals have done in free agency, they’ve signed a starting tackle (Riley Reiff), a likely starting guard (Quinton Spain) and are currently showing interest in Brett Jones.
At wide receiver, the team has lost A.J. Green, Alex Erickson and John Ross to free agency. While predictable, they’ve only re-signed Mike Thomas, leaving voids at the position group. Oh, and there’s the whole Joe Burrow-Chase familiarity thing.
Round 2, Pick 37: Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Conundrum: Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis, a true guard by trade, was also on the board for us. With the team ostensibly needing a starting right guard at the moment, Davis would make a lot of sense.
Reasoning: The Athletic’s draft guru, Dane Brugler, thinks Leatherwood could also actually be a guard at the next level, given his history of playing both inside and outside with the Crimson Tide. It’s possible the Bengals try to find a lineman like Leatherwood who has tackle/guard versatility, starting him at the latter initially, only to groom him for the former as an eventual replacement for Reiff.
Also, Leatherwood absolutely blew up his Pro Day workout, surprising some with his athleticism for his size:
Alex Leatherwood is a OT prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.86 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 17 out of 1109 OT from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 23, 2021
Splits projected, times unofficial.
This OT class has not disappointed.https://t.co/O81O0SLWna #RAS pic.twitter.com/tU0SVLxE9S
Round 3, Pick No. 69: Rashad Weaver, Edge, Pittsburgh
Conundrum: Some really intriguing interior defensive linemen options were on the board at the time of this pick. USC’s Jay Tufele, Louisiana Tech’s Milton Williams and others would have been fun additions to the Bengals’ defense—particularly after they lost out on Sheldon Rankins in free agency.
Reasoning: Even though the Bengals paid Trey Hendrickson handsomely, they need more pass-rush help off the edge. Sam Hubbard is also a nice player, but adding in Weaver gives the team a quality rotation. Weaver amassed 14 sacks combined over the past two seasons with the Panthers.
Round 4, Pick 109: Quinn Meinerz, Center/Guard, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Conundrum: Which position group do you double-dip at early: offensive line or wide receiver? And, what about a quality interior defensive lineman?
Reasoning: Ultimately, the main priority this offseason is to keep Burrow upright and healthy. The Reiff and Spain moves help that goal, but Cincinnati failed to obtain one of those “needle-moving” signings this free agency period.
So, “draft and develop” it is. Trey Hopkins is on track to start the 2021 season after his season-finale knee injury, but having a contingency plan in place would be wise. Meinerz could become a favorite pet project of Frank Pollack, though Pro Draft Network’s Tony Pauline doesn’t think the small school lineman is a good fit for true zone blocking schemes, which is concerning.
Also on the podcast this week:
- What’s the deal with Trai Turner and why don’t the Bengals seem to be very interested in his services? Is it money, contract structure, or his uncharacteristically poor 2020 season? All of the above?
- The Bengals keep adding on defense through free agency and it seems as if Lou Anarumo may have more organizational sway than we originally thought.
- What are the Bengals doing at wide receiver beyond Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Mike Thomas?
- And more!
Thanks for listening!
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