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Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 1.0

Designing a Cincinnati Bengals mock draft has to start with a key tenet; build around quarterback Joe Burrow by any means necessary.
Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

Designing a mock draft for the Cincinnati Bengals has to start with a key tenet; build around Joe Burrow. The organization admitted as such when Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin conducted a press conference on March 8, 2021. Regarding Burrow, Tobin said, “we’re going to do everything we can to build around him and give him the opportunity to really shine and show what he can do. And so it’s going to start with him.” Coupling praise and plan in his statement, he put pressure on his own front office to strengthen their core. 

Regardless of a need to help Burrow, the Bengals are in the midst of turning the corner from re-builder to playoff contender. Adding pieces to compete for the playoffs over the next half-decade with Burrow will be key. Still, the team has ample needs and won’t be able to address them all in one off-season. Their biggest need, finding talent on the offensive and defensive line, can be a focus of the draft. While they still need to find Burrow more weapons, protecting him and attacking the opposing quarterback are focuses. While their free agency period will be full of questions, it could change the landscape of their draft. Regardless, they have a great chance to add talent and grow their core. 

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 1.0; Building for Burrow and Bolstering the Trenches

Round 1, Pick 5 – Penei Sewell, Tackle, University of Oregon

Though this is a mock draft, the Cincinnati Bengals seem likely to select Penei Sewell if he’s on the board. Though Cincinnati has the fifth pick, an interesting slate of young passers could allow him to slide into their hands. While Sewell isn’t an entirely polished prospect, he has the ceiling of an elite NFL tackle. For a team building a core and needing to protect Joe Burrow, this is a perfect fit. Other options exist, including reuniting Burrow with LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase. However, Sewell is heavily rumored to be the Bengals’ preferred pick. 

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Round 2, Pick 38 – Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina

Jaycee Horn could fill a huge need for the Bengals if he’s selected in the second round. The team faces a very tough free agency decision with William Jackson III and doesn’t have another answer at perimeter corner. Horn has a long, stocky frame that allows him to compete with receivers on the outside. What really impresses is Horn’s physicality on the outside. He boxes with opposing receivers at the point of catch, breaking up passes against tough SEC receivers. However, he did grab only two interceptions a season ago and needs to improve his ball skills. Regardless, he’s a good second-round option and could start alongside Trae Waynes from day one.

Round 3, Pick 69 – Marvin Wilson, Defensive Tackle, Florida State

A former five-star recruit, Marvin Wilson would be an intriguing choice for Cincinnati. He has a high-ceiling and overwhelming physical tools. While he might not be the traditional gap-filling interior tackle, he creates pressure with ease. Pairing Wilson with D.J. Reader inside would allow Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson better opportunities to bring down opposing passers. With the departure of Geno Atkins looming, the Bengals need a player like Wilson to rise and fill the gap. 

Round 4, Pick 111 – Sage Surratt, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest

After sitting out the 2020 season, Sage Surratt is quite an intriguing prospect. Standing 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Surratt is currently a little undersized, but muscle could make him a menace. He compiled 1,001 yards, 66 receptions, and 11 touchdowns as a junior, driving opposing defenses crazy. Never playing with an elite quarterback, adding Surratt to Burrow’s arsenal could benefit both. Surratt has excellent hands and seems to make tough catches look easy. Seemingly, as long as a passer puts it close, Surratt can find a way to track the ball. He might not be an elite talent, but he projects as a long-term NFL contributor. 

Round 5, Pick 150 – Drake Jackson, Center/Guard, University of Kentucky

In their continued effort to build-up offensive line depth, Drake Jackson seems like a potential late-round steal. While he doesn’t do anything with excellence, Jackson does a lot of things well. Playing center at Kentucky, he was a leading the line that produced the SEC’s second-best rushing attack. Kentucky finished just behind Alabama with 2,162 rushing yards in 2020. Jackson is an incredible run blocker already but could use some refinement in the passing game. If anything happens to Trey Hopkins or Billy Price, Jackson is a solid plug-and-play fit for the Cincinnati Bengals in this mock draft. 

Round 6, Pick 192 – Jonathon Cooper, Defensive End, The Ohio State University

Receiving high praise for his high character at Ohio State, Jonathon Cooper fits the mold that Zac Taylor greatly desires in Cincinnati. While he has room to improve on the edge, he’s a good developmental prospect for the Bengals with a high ceiling. Granted, Cooper posted just 3.5 sacks last season at Ohio State and nine total across five years with the Buckeyes. Still, Cooper can reunite with Hubbard and develop in the ranks with Cincinnati, who desperately need help on the edge. 

Round 7, Pick 231 – Ta’Quon Graham, Defensive Tackle, University of Texas

In 2020, the Bengals learned that having depth across the board is invaluable. After losing Renell Wren and Josh Tupou as opt-outs in 2020, the team was in constant rotation on their defensive line. Adding a solid contributor like Ta’Quon Graham, who can push the pocket, adds more help and depth, a formula for growth in Cincinnati. Graham was a four-year starter at Texas and while he doesn’t provide sacks, he’s competitive and helps slow down opposing running games. Simply put, Graham is a low floor, medium-ceiling prospect and a solid seventh-round target for Cincinnati. 

Round 7, Pick 233 – Brenden Knox, Running Back, Marshall

In a developmental selection to bolster their running back group, Brenden Knox is an interesting solution. While they could look at a more valuable prospect earlier, Knox fits the mold of a Cincinnati rotational runner. At 6-feet, 223 pounds, Knox has a pretty good size. During his junior year at Marshall, he ran for 887 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished third in C-USA in rushing yards this season and finished first just a season prior. Playing in a pro-style offense at Marshall, he earned his chops selling RPOs to opposing defenses, something he does well. He doesn’t hit the hole with tremendous intensity but is hard to bring down. He has the potential to develop into a solid player in the NFL.

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