One of the biggest weeks on the NFL calendar is finally here, as the bright lights of Las Vegas attracts the biggest stars from the college football ranks. The 2022 NFL Draft is upon us!
The OBI crew unveils its final mock draft on the show, while giving a “State Your Case” and another fun “Remember When...?”. We decided to do the mock draft a little differently this time around.
Instead of relying on mock draft simulators, we shot from the hip a bit, using Bengals’ past draft trends, tracking some of their pre-draft visits this spring and general hunches. So, while we made consensus picks, we also have a couple of alternatives to look for.
And, while we didn’t go seven full rounds, we have a few names to watch for on day three. Have a look at what we came up with:
Round 1, Pick 31: Andrew Booth, Jr., Cornerback, Clemson
In nine of the last 19 drafts, the Cincinnati Bengals have taken either a cornerback (five times), or an offensive lineman (four times). The offensive-minded Zac Taylor has had his way in his first three drafts by selecting a franchise left tackle, quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, but it’s Lou Anarumo’s turn now.
The Trae Waynes splash unfortunately blew up in their faces, so they’re going to go with the cheaper, younger option at a premier NFL position. There are a handful of names to go with here at No. 31, but Booth checks a lot of the boxes.
Aside from a core injury, he’s active, agile and has good measurables. Anarumo has preferred to use corners who are physical, and Booth had 37 tackles last season. Even if the technique needs refinement, the willingness is there.
Booth is a twitchy, hyperactive cornerback and that plays into his corner more often than not. However, sometimes it’s something that needs reining in. The Bengals have met with Booth in the pre-draft process.
If Kyler Gordon is available, he has to be an intriguing option. The straight line speed aside, his size and versatility have to be something in which Anarumo has noted.
We’ve done a full profile on him, and while he’s the second-best corner on his team in this year’s class, he seems to have traits that perfectly fit the AFC North. If the Bengals don’t grab him, don’t be surprised if Baltimore or Pittsburgh pounce.
Additionally, we can’t rule out Kaiir Elam here, either. He seems to be the most boom-or-bust of the group, but if he puts it together, he could be a solid NFL corner.
Elam’s solid sophomore season and NFL lineage will have teams intrigued, but injury and 2021 production dip concerns will also have teams thinking hard about him.
Round 2, Pick No. 63: Perrion Winfrey, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma
Houston’s Logan Hall and Connecticut’s Travis Jones have to be ultra-intriguing, but sitting and waiting at No. 63 for them may be a fool’s errand. Yes, I know I’m breaking “Anthony’s mock draft season Rule No. 1” in not assuming who or who won’t be there, but we’re going on a relatively strong hunch.
Cincinnati has been doing its due diligence on researching interior three-tech(-ish) defensive linemen and Winfrey was on their list of pre-draft contacts. He’s one of those Bengals-coveted big school producers with 16.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in two full seasons of playing time with the Sooners.
He’d rotate with B.J. Hill to help fill the big void left by Larry Ogunjobi. When you look back at recent (and some not-so-recent draft classes by the Bengals), the middle rounds are where the pounce on defensive linemen—in fact, Justin Smith was the last defensive lineman in which they used a first-round pick.
Tight end remains a need, so if somehow Trey McBride or Greg Dulcich are here, they Bengals may be tempted to pounce. They tried to fill the void left by C.J. Uzomah with Hayden Hurst, but he’s only on a one-year deal.
Nebraska center Cam Jurgens might be another option here, if they feel he can step in and allow Ted Karras to move to left guard.
Round 3, Pick 95: Jeremy Ruckert, Tight End, Ohio State
Cincinnati needs a tight end. They haven’t traditionally valued it much in the draft (just two first-round picks at the position ever) and this may be a sweet spot for Zac Taylor to get his first offensive weapon in the draft.
Ruckert was a little bit of an afterthought in the Buckeyes’ offense, with talents like Chris Olave and Garrett Wison getting the lion’s share of stats, as evidenced by Ruckert’s 309 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Ruckert has good size at 6’5” and 250 pounds, shows willingness as a blocker and most believe he has high NFL potential, despite the low stat numbers. He won’t be needed to be Cincinnati’s TE1 right away but could develop into that role beyond Hurst’s contract.
Other possible options:
Safety remains an area of concern with expiring contracts coming up for both Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. Add in Ricardo Allen’s retirement and you can see how a contingency plan could be needed before night three ends—it’s just a matter of how the board shakes up.
Offensive line, or edge rusher may also make sense here. However, don’t be surprised if wide receiver somehow gets in the mix by round three or four. One intriguing mid-round guy is Calvin Austin III of Memphis.
He’s of a completely different mold than the other Bengals wideouts (5’8”), but he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash and could have special teams abilities. He isn’t just a slot guy either—most of the production on his 1,149-yard, eight-touchdown season came from the outside.
Our thanks to those who joined us for the live show, or you can download it afterward on your favorite platform afterward!
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