The Cincinnati Bengals have done a pretty good job this offseason so far filling their biggest need — the struggling offensive line — with accomplished veteran players.
That leaves them in a position fans aren’t used to recently. This team isn’t forced to draft based on need. We also will have to wait pretty late on draft night to see the Bengals pick at No. 31. Could that wait be longer, though?
In a recent mock draft done by Kevin Hanson of Sports Illustrated, he has Cincinnati moving out of the first round after a number of highly rated defensive targets get drafted.
The notable names off the board include cornerback Andrew Booth (29th), cornerback Kaiir Elam (25th) and even offensive lineman Zion Johnson (24th). With no real target left at pass rusher, corner or a glass eater offensive lineman, the Bengals feel comfortable in this scenario moving back to No. 40 with the Seahawks while also picking up an extra third round selection No. 72.
The biggest name the Bengals are passing up in this scenario is center Tyler Linderbaum, which would undoubtedly upset many fans. Linderbaum could theoretically slide right in as the starting center while moving Ted Karras to left guard. That would see the team upgrading at four of the five starting spots from the 2021 season along the offensive line.
In this two round mock the Bengals end up with edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie out of Penn State. He is a lighter edge rusher, but he has good length as well as some some great hands to make up for it. He likely would be a pass rusher in obvious passing situations to start while he bulks up a bit.
They also land cornerback Roger McCreary out of Auburn. That seems like a bit of a win at pick No. 63. He is a player that could easily be reached for do to the lack of depth after the top tier corners in this draft. Many of the corner considered “better” are career nickel corners, which isn’t something the Bengals need after inking Mike Hilton to a deal just last offseason.
He is a very physical corner who loves to play bump-and-run coverage. He has some issues with lateral quickness, but he has the ceiling of a very solid starting corner in the NFL. He may never be the guy you feel great about shadowing the opposing team’s top receiver, but the team really needs to find some youth on the boundary corner position. Having at least a year to learn with Eli Apple penciled in to be the starter is also a good situation for McCreary.
Unfortunately, since this is only a two round mock we can’t see exactly how the trade plays out. However, adding the extra top 100 pick for just falling back nine picks isn’t a bad value. Some would argue that Linderbaum wouldn’t be worth that, which is a valid argument. The picks they ended up with in this draft don’t exactly inspire the confidence that this move was a slam dunk at all.