Bengals prove they were right taking WR over OT in the 2021 NFL Draft

Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals found a superstar in Ja’Marr Chase. Here’s why they were correct for taking a wide receiver over an offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

In football, certain positions hold differing levels of value to each team, but some are unquestionably more important than others. Obviously, teams can’t win today without a competent quarterback, while positions like edge defender and cornerback are highly sought after each year.

One of the most important ‘money’ positions is offensive tackle. In today’s passing NFL, it’s extremely important to have players who can help keep a clean pocket for your quarterback as they typically get a hefty responsibility locking down the opposing teams’ best pass rushers.

When it came time for the Cincinnati Bengals to make their selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, many fans were disappointed when they went with LSU receiver, Ja’Marr Chase. With outstanding offensive tackle prospects like Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater ripe for the picking, the Bengals went with a wide receiver who had opted out of the 2020 season with the 5th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

This decision received a lot of scrutinies. In 2020, the Bengals had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. In fact, Joe Burrow wound up on IR after tearing his ACL on one particular play. The media was incredibly hard on Cincinnati for ignoring the offensive line to take a skill player… but that criticism didn’t last long.

Bengals made the right move in the NFL Draft

I don’t admit this often, as I am partial to building through the trenches, but I think the Bengals made the right decision by taking a wide receiver in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. But not just any wide receiver would have done the trick. Ja’Marr Chase is a remarkably special talent and has already shown why he’s one of the very best receivers in the NFL.

Though in his rookie season, Chase has managed to record 79 receptions for 1,429 yards and 13 touchdowns in the first 16 games of his NFL career, via Pro Football Reference. His 18.1 yards per reception lead all qualifying NFL receivers and he earned a remarkable 11.5 yards per target.

The connection between QB Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase has a chance to be the most lethal one-two punch in the NFL over the next decade, and even with competent receivers already on the roster, Chase has helped take this offense to another level. The Bengals are currently 5th in the NFL in scoring, according to Team Rankings, and they are only going to get better with time.

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While a gifted offensive tackle would have been a most-welcomed addition to Cincinnati, it’s hard to argue that the Bengals made a mistake by taking perhaps the most talented player in the 2021 NFL Draft. Perhaps this will change how teams and draft analysts view the wide receiver position moving forward.