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Bengals end up with cornerback in o-line heavy mock draft

The Bengals end up snagging a physical corner in the first round.

Auburn v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals will be focused on fixing their offensive line this offseason. It is painfully obvious to everyone that finding protection for quarterback Joe Burrow is the biggest need. However, it isn’t the only position that needs attention this offseason.

In James Dator’s most recent mock draft for SB Nation, he had a very heavy amount of offensive linemen going before the Bengals pick at No. 31. Rather than having them reach slightly for another, he has Cincinnati going best player available with Auburn Tigers cornerback Roger McCreary.

Here is NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s overview of McCreary:

Press-man cornerback with physical limitations that could create occasional roller-coaster matchups on Sundays. McCreary is aggressive, with the play strength to bully the release and alter route timing. He lacks fluidity in lateral transitions from off-man and lacks make-up burst to stay connected to cross-country routes. Tall receivers have advantages on jump balls and fades, but finding catch space will be a chore for opponents when he’s in phase on vertical routes. He has average starting talent as a CB2/3 but needs to operate in a scheme that allows him to play hugged-up coverage, limiting operating space for wideouts.

The Bengals are going to need depth at cornerback in 2022. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton are easily going to repeat as starters, but the team still has to re-sign Eli Apple and Tre Flowers. Trae Waynes is also an almost certain cut for cap space.

McCreary would be a very interesting fit in Lou Anarumo’s defense. He would certainly have opportunities to get up and personal, but he may have to become better off the ball in the NFL.

In this scenario, a trade down may be the best option for Cincinnati. There isn’t even much in the way of interior defensive linemen available after the extraordinary combine performances of Travon Walker and Jordan Davis rocketed them up to way earlier in the first round.

There is also a good chance that a name of an offensive lineman that is getting talked about as an early second-round pick could get snagged by the Bengals here. Of course, that depends on how much Cincinnati takes care of the offensive line in free agency.

There are certainly worse-case scenarios than adding what could be a very solid starter to a cornerback room that has a bunch of players in their prime to show the rookie the way. He would also be a longer term solution than an Apple or Flowers could be.

It will be interesting to see how the Bengals could possibly navigate this scenario if it comes to pass.