During his final press conference before Thursday’s NFL draft, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor seemed to confirm similar sentiments that director of player personnel Duke Tobin echoed a week prior. The team seems more poised to stay at the fifth-overall pick rather than trade down and lose the chance to select the elite player they want.
“We feel like we’re going to get a premier player that can come in and help us win immediately,” Taylor told media members Monday afternoon.
Finding out which premier player has been an interesting task for all of us. Everyone knows that it’s really down to LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, and Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell, but there’s enough information out there to determine that Pitts isn’t really in the conversation. We’ve come to terms that it’s between Chase and Sewell.
When asked about both players, Taylor provided the expected mundane answers, praising them for their abilities and their potential. Taylor saw Sewell workout with his own eyes at Oregon’s pro day and recognized how special of a player he is to behold.
“Big, athletic, powerful.” Taylor said. “[He] can do a lot of things really well. Certainly you can see why he put himself in a position to be a top pick in the draft.”
Taylor didn’t see Chase workout, but the team had Tobin and wide receivers coach Troy Walters watch him. Taylor had similar praise for Chase.
“He’s a premier receiver in this draft,” Taylor said. “He does a lot of things really well, and when you watch the tape in 2019 it’s fun to watch Joe [Burrow] play again, because that’s the most recent tape you’re watching. Tremendous player, and it’s obvious why he’s put himself in the conversation to be a high pick.”
That quote about watching Burrow play with Chase is interesting in a vacuum, but when asked about the Chase-Burrow connection being a big factor, he quickly denied it.
“No, it’s one of the things that you weigh in,” Taylor said. “Certainly we take in a lot of factors; their production on the field, their character, their football IQ, what they bring to our locker room, what they bring to our team as a whole. Relationship with the quarterback, that certainly doesn’t hurt, but that’s just one of the many things we weigh in.”
Taylor later went on to state the obvious and say that their history together is not a negative.
Most signs point to the team leaning towards Chase over Sewell. Team beat writers, insider Malik Wright, and other well-informed names around the league are all going with Chase. And judging by Taylor’s comments on what he looks for in a receiver, it’s clear as to why.
“You do want a guy that can threaten the defense vertically,” Taylor said. “And you do want a guy that when the game is on the line, and you know you’re gonna get a one-on-one, [he] can go win that, you have that expectation. Those are the things you want as a part of your offense.”
Sounds like a certain receiver we all know.
Of course, the Bengals will be drafting at least one offensive lineman early in this week’s draft. But if there’s pressure regarding the Bengals taking one in the first round, Taylor isn’t admitting it exists.
“We are going to help our team win with whoever we take.” Taylor said. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I’m thankful that I don’t have to answer to everyone’s opinion, because I’d be here all day.... We feel like we’ll add a really great addition to the team on Thursday night.”
How are you feeling about the upcoming draft after hearing Taylor’s comments? Let us know in the comments!