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Bengals shore up trenches in Mel Kiper’s first mock draft of 2024

The Bengals need to do a better job of protecting Joe Burrow, and Mel Kiper has them addressing that need in his first mock.

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals have several needs that they will need to address as they enter free agency, and with Joe Burrow on a mega contract now, it is more important than ever to hit on free agency moves and draft picks to keep the team in contention.

After Burrow suffered another season-ending injury, lots of eyes will be on what the Bengals do to keep that from happening again.

The people projecting the Bengals to add an OL in the 2024 draft include Mel Kiper. In his first mock draft of 2024, Kiper has the Bengals addressing OL with the selection of Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle J.C. Latham.

Here’s what Kiper had to say about Latham.

He can maul defenders in the run game, but he’s also light on his feet as a pass-protector. With Jonah Williams headed to free agency, Latham could slot in on the right side and be an instant starter. I could also see the Bengals look toward the defensive tackle class, with Jer’Zhan Newton (Illinois) and T’Vondre Sweat (Texas) still available.

Latham is an Alabama right tackle who was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school. He turns 21 in February, so he will be very young as he enters the NFL and should have the potential to grow even more as a player. He is a natural replacement for the Bengals’ current right tackle in Jonah Williams, who the Bengals may not be able to afford, especially since it seems they will likely be forced to tag Tee Higgins this offseason.

Notable players that the Bengals passed on include the top two players at another position of need in defensive tackle. Jer’Zhan Newton and Byron Murphy, both defensive tackles, were available at the Bengals pick at 18. Newton went in the twenties, and Murphy fell out of the first round in this mock.