As time wore on towards the onset of the 2021 NFL Draft, the options for the Cincinnati Bengals narrowed. Namely, they were whittled down to two primary options: Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and LSU wide receiver, Ja’Marr Chase.
Rumors and reports began to pile up that Cincinnati was dead-set on taking Chase at No. 5 overall. Those reports became reality on Thursday night, as the former Tigers standout was reunited with his college quarterback teammate, Joe Burrow.
Not everyone in Bengals Nation was thrilled with this pick, though. A dividing line was drawn in the sand amongst the faithful, pinning those who wanted an offensive lineman against a skill position weapon.
On Thursday night, our Cincy Jungle podcast group went live as the draft kicked off, went through the Bengals’ pick of Chase and far into the first round with reactions of how things played out.
As it comes to Chase, even those on “Team Sewell” have to concede the myriad of abilities he brings to the Bengals. Comparisons of A.J. Brown and a faster Anquan Boldin make us all hopeful for what’s ahead.
The group all noted how Chase “plays bigger than his size”, in that facets of his athletic profile provide him abilities that a wideout with A.J. Green’s height gave the Bengals for a decade. Chase wins 50/50 balls, out-jumps defenders with regularity and has that Steve Smith-like knack to fight for the football with everything he has.
This aspect of “playing angry” seemed to be an aspect to his receiving repertoire that went a bit unnoticed. His speed, separation and domination of the SEC as a 19-year old were talked about often, but the physicality got lost in the conversation a bit.
As Zim WhoDey, Matt Minich, John Sheeran and myself continued to discuss the benefits of Chase, it took a turn towards how his arrival can actually have a positive effect on offensive balance and a ripple effect for other individual players on offense.
Having a receiving corps headlined by Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd forces defenses to be a bit more honest than they’ve been over the past couple fo seasons. Defenses now have more of a “pick your poison” dilemma when facing the Bengals.
Some other points of discussion:
- Will Chase take some responsibilities off of Higgins’ plate, allowing the team to utilize both players more effectively to their respective strengths?
- Who are some of the best offensive line options available on Night Two?
- Can Chase and Burrow come close to replicating their LSU success in the pros?
- And much more
Overall, we were pleased with the pick, but also have a little bit of an “incomplete” grade to the selection. By that, we mean that this pick has to be predicated on the Bengals shoring up the offensive and defensive lines over the next few rounds. Heck, maybe even another receiver could be in the mix.
Our thanks to all of you who joined us live throughout our marathon show and afterward!
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