NFL free agency begins next week, and with it comes hope that the Cincinnati Bengals will make significant upgrades along the offensive line.
Ideally, the Bengals will be able to land 2-3 impact linemen in the coming weeks, though they may wait to address one of those positions in the upcoming NFL Draft.
That’s where ESPN’s Todd McShay sees Cincinnati going in his latest mock draft, as he pegged Boston College Eagles standout Zion Johnson to be the 31st-overall pick. Johnson is listed as a center/guard prospect, so he could theoretically give the Bengals options at both guard spots and center, three positions that may very well have new starters when the 2022 season kicks off.
Here is what McShay said about Johnson.
You won’t find many mock drafts handing the Bengals someone other than an offensive lineman. It’s a glaring problem that led to 74 sacks allowed in 2021 between the regular season and playoffs, and their 48.8% pass block win rate was the NFL’s third worst. That’s disaster waiting to happen when you have one of the game’s brightest young passers in Joe Burrow playing behind that line.
Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann is one option, but I love Johnson’s versatility and smoothness in pass pro. He posted a 32-inch vertical jump, 32 reps on the bench press and 7.38 seconds in the three-cone drill — all top-four results among the offensive linemen. Riley Reiff and Quinton Spain are off to free agency, and Johnson is putting in work at center, meaning he could play any of the interior positions for Cincinnati.
The 6-foot-3, 312-pound Johnson is ranked 39th overall among 2022 draft prospects at ESPN. He allowed zero pressures in 2021 while primarily at left guard, according to ESPN’s advanced stats, and just one sack in 2,288 career snaps at Boston College.
Johnson actually started at left tackle during the 2020 season, so he’s got experience throughout the offensive line, something the Bengals like having with their linemen.
What say you? Would this be a good pick for Cincinnati late in Round 1? Let us know below and in the comments section!