As the free agency dust has largely settled, the focus is now on what the Cincinnati Bengals plan to do with the 31st overall pick in the NFL Draft in less than a month.
With three new starters signed on the offensive line, a linebacker room that appears set, elite skill players on offense and a defense that was among the best in the league last season, the Bengals are able to draft more freely, with no glaring holes remaining on the roster.
In two recently released mock drafts, some have the Bengals sticking with a method they’ve used many times before - taking a cornerback.
Bengals Wire has Cincinnati picking up Kaiir Elam out of Florida.
“The Bengals have done an excellent job adding to their offensive line this offseason and they finally have assembled a unit that should give Joe Burrow time to throw the football. These additions in free agency allow the team to fortify their defense through the draft. Adding Kaiir Elam will give this secondary some much-needed length and athleticism—in a loaded AFC, you can never have too many corners.”
Making a good point about the way the AFC has loaded up this off-season and the Trae Waynes signing never panning out, a tall, athletic corner may be just what the doctor ordered.
Another target connected to the Bengals is Tyler Linderbaum out of Iowa, but Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic has them passing on an offensive lineman in favor of Kyler Gordon out of Washington.
“The obvious quandary here is Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum still being on the board. But the Bengals made three additions to the offensive line in free agency, including adding Ted Karras and planting him at the center position. That’s on top of the three draft picks they spent on the line last year. They finally feel comfortable enough to pass on the draft’s top center. Instead, they fill the most glaring need on the roster at cornerback. Eli Apple is the current starter, but this pick would allow a first-rounder to come in and try to beat him out. The feisty, physical, playmaking Gordon would be an ideal fit in coordinator Lou Anarumo’s system next to Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton.”
Dane Brugler has them also passing on Linderbaum for the defensive backfield, but choosing to address the safety position instead.
“It feels crazy that the Bengals would pass on Linderbaum, but I agree with Paul. With the additions the Bengals have made on the offensive line, the target with this pick shifts to cornerback. But is Gordon worth a first-round pick? I have my reservations, especially after he fell short of expectations at the combine. Safety isn’t an immediate need, but neither Vonn Bell nor Jessie Bates are under contract beyond the 2022 season and Georgia’s Lewis Cine would be a great fit.”
Safety isn’t a position we’ve seen addressed much, but with the uncertainty around Bates and Bell, it shouldn’t be ruled out.
Here’s to not needing franchise altering players in the first round!