The Bengals went much farther than I think most of us anticipated this past season. This NFL Draft will determine if they keep pace with the ever-evolving AFC.
The Bengals and Joe Burrow took the city of Cincinnati to their first SuperBowl in a very long time. They are building something special there in Cincy. But, the NFL is constantly changing, and they need to keep up; we saw their flaws in the Superbowl, and they did not do a lot to fix them. Here in this mock draft, the Bengals do, and they stay atop the AFC North.
1st round pick 31st overall- Daxton Hill, S Michigan
We watch the Bengals get torched in the Superbowl this year; Daxton Hill will fill multiple roles. If not for Kyle Hamilton, he would easily be the best safety in this draft. There is a slight chance he won’t make it to the Bengals, but in my draft, he does, and they get an elite playmaker.
He’s got the size, speed, and arm length to play safety and corner. He can be used multiple ways and instantly upgrades that defense, and I would expect his play to earn him a C on his chest in the next year or two. He is one if not the most dynamic playmaker in the secondary in this year’s NFL Draft. He will come in on day one and play all three downs.
2nd round 36th overall- Dylan Parham, IOL Memphis
Joe Burrow is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, but it doesn’t matter if he cant stay on his feet. After fixing a hole on the defense, they start moving to keep him upright. After already having one injury, another could be catastrophic to his future.
Parham is a big mean guard and will be a solid player for years to come. Which also helps out Joe Mixon, let alone Burrow. He could be one of the more underrated players in this NFL Draft.
3rd round 95th overall- MJ Emerson, CB Miss State
While the 4.53 is a little concerning, he has a long gait, and his arms and size make up for it. They need a solid lockdown corner, and I would take Emerson over Eli Apple any day of the week and at the 95th overall pick; this is a great value. It might take him a year or two to take over the CB1 role, but he has the athletic ability and size to do so quickly. They are filling one of their most significant holes. Plus, who doesn’t love a corner who, at this point, is the same size and heavier than most of the WR1/2 in the league.
4th round 136th overall- Jalen Wydermyer, TE Texas A&M
His pro-day left a lot to be desired, and I trust the tape when that happens. He tested abysmally. However, his tape tells a much different story as he was one of the most effective tight ends in college over the last two years. This will replace what they lost, and I think he can take over the starting role over CJ in one to two years.
This kid is big, strong, and can do anything asked of him; I’m not worried about his horrid testing because he’s a dominant force when he has pads on, and getting him here is a gift for a team that’s already pretty loaded on offense. Look for him to play TE2, but slide out in wide sets.
5th round 154th overall- Otito Ogbonnia, IDL UCLA
This is a massive IDL who can play for a long time; he has his issues. But no one will run on this guy, and he can be a force as a rotational piece for a few years. With him, you get a guy you can drop in at nose tackle on any short-yardage situation, knowing he will take up a double team or fill a gap.
What he will be a couple of years from now is not sure, but at minimum, he is a great DT3 and, in run-stopping situations one of the best on the field. He might be an elite 3-4 defensive end if he was two inches taller.
6th round 209th overall- Kellen Diesch, OT ASU
Once again, we have to keep Joe Burrow upright. I don’t see Diesch coming in day one and competing for a tackle spot, but he can in a few years. At a minimum, you get a great spot starting player at offensive tackle who can move inside if needed.
The value here is good, and Burrow needs all the help he can get on the offensive line facing some of the front sevens he will see in his own division. I love his speed, but he’s too tall to push inside full time. However, the NFL is changing, so don’t be surprised if he comes in on pulling guard situations with his size and speed.
7th round 226th overall- Damarion Williams, CB Houston
Going back to the bucket to shore up that secondary that got torched all year. He will be helpful in year one as a rotational player and might have some solid upside. But, they need depth at this position, and if they need to go four-wide with corners and match up based on size and speed. He can help with that. He lacks arm length and height, but that’s one wild verticle at his height. They may be able to get more out of him, but at the least, he can come in on special teams and dime packages.
7th round 252nd overall- Abram Smith, RB Baylor
The Bengals know that Joe Mixon cannot always pull off an entire season; this kid is a bowling ball. He will be helpful in short-yardage situations and can pass protect. I would not expect him to climb high up the depth chart as far as usage goes, but he would be good in pass protect and short yardage, even used as a fullback at times in an RPO or a trick play.