The Bengals will be picking no sooner than 31st and no later than 32nd in the draft order. Offensive line and cornerback are being pegged as the likely positions they’ll target with their first-round pick, but in most years, many of the top prospects with first-round grades are usually off the board at the very end of the opening round.
In his latest two-round mock draft, ESPN’s Jordan Reid slotted one of the better o-line prospects to the Bengals in Boston College’s Zion Johnson.
You could make a strong argument that Johnson was the most consistent offensive prospect through the week of practices at the Senior Bowl. After playing guard and tackle during his career, he spent time at center in Mobile and showed minimal signs of drop off despite never before playing the position. Johnson has a rock-solid build (6-foot-3, 314 pounds) and the strength to match, and the Bengals are a team desperately in need of better offensive linemen in front of quarterback Joe Burrow. Johnson could fill any of the three interior spots.
The Bengals have made a habit of targeting Senior Bowl players in recent years. Drew Sample, Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson, and Akeem Davis-Gaither are just a handful of examples. Johnson did his best to stand out at Mobile and boosted his stock into the first-round conversation for sure.
With guard-center versatility, Johnson could fill one of multiple holes on the Bengals’ roster. Even after taking him, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Cincinnati double down at offensive line with their second-round pick, but Reid has them going with UCLA cornerback Tariq Woolen, who boasts incredible size for the position:
At nearly 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Woolen is a slender but vertically built corner who played wide receiver two years ago. His technique is still raw, but his transition skills, ability to make plays on the ball and upside make him a fit in the Bengals’ versatile coverage scheme.
Free agency will provide more clarity as to what the Bengals do in the draft, but o-line and cornerback seem to be the likely positions they’ll address in late April.