The State of the Bengals:
In 2021 the Cincinnati Bengals turned the corner from a bottom 5 team in the league to a Super Bowl contestant. Riding the backs of Joe Burrow and rookie standout Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals have put together what seems to be an elite foundation of core players on the offensive side of the ball.
Looking to repeat their success in 2022 and beyond, the Bengals still have their fair share of holes in order to make another title run. Cincinnati’s needs on defense revolve around the secondary, where they could use help at corner and a running mate at safety alongside Jessie Bates.
On offense, another tight end could be in the mix, as well as help on the interior offensive line. Cincinnati has spent its last five first-round picks on the offensive side of the ball, but that may change this year with #31 as well as two others in the top 100.
Booth is a twitchy, athletic corner with the man coverage tools and ball skills to develop into a strong starter at the next level, but his tackling woes and lack of hip fluidity could hold him back early in his career.
With his physicality and athletic traits, Booth has the chance to develop into a true No. 1 corner, something the Bengals secondary has been missing.
Hill is a versatile and competitive defensive back who can be impactful at all levels of the field with his man coverage ability, despite his slight frame.
Hill gives the Bengals a massive defensive chess piece who can play multiple roles in coverage as well as play in the box vs the run.
Linderbaum’s lack of power and natural lower-body strength won’t be a fit for every offense, but his exceptional athleticism, intelligence, and effort make for a uniquely stylistic center.
Even with the signing of Ted Karras, Linderbaum could provide stability and longevity to grow alongside Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future, whenever he takes over the starting role.
Strange has the reactive athleticism to mirror defenders, consistent leg drive to move them, and the nastiness to finish through the whistle, but he’ll need to improve his balance, footwork, and awareness to maximize his potential.
Strange has the ability to play all three interior positions, but is most comfortable at left guard. He gives the Bengals someone to compete with Jackson Carman as well as depth/starting ability at other positions.
Bryant doesn’t have elite speed and needs to become a better tackler, but is an intelligent and athletic corner who has the field awareness and ball skills to be a long-time starter at the next level.
If Cincinnati goes elsewhere in Round 1, keeping Bryant home is plausible in Round 2. He neither flashes on tape nor has elite traits, but has the instincts and all around skill set to immediately help out any secondary.
McBride has the hands, catch radius and body control as a receiver with the willingness and competitiveness as a blocker to start at the next level, but inconsistent separation skills and run block effectiveness could hold him back.
After losing C.J. Uzomah in free agency, adding a second tight end next to Hayden Hurst is important. McBride has the catching skills and natural receiving ability to develop into a strong starter. He would also have the chance to be eased into the NFL with the presence of Hurst.
Jurgens needs to improve his strength and pass pro efficiency, but he has high potential moving forward as a zone-scheme center with his impressive technique and movement skills.
Jurgens has the potential to become a mainstay at the center position. Picking Jurgens here gives him time to refine his skills and learn the speed of the NFL before eventually taking over the full time role.
Butler has the first-step explosion, heavy hand punch, and nonstop motor to be disruptive, but his lack of strength and agility likely keep him from being a three-down starter at the next level.
The interior defensive line needs some more beef up front and Butler provides that along with being a scheme fit. Butler can one-gap penetrate and get into the backfield on first and second downs.
Bell needs to improve his route running separation skills, but his deep ball tracking and slippery ballcarrying abilities should make for a multi-level threat and a reliable, alignment-versatile third option.
A wide receiver might not be the biggest need, but Bell gives the Bengals immediate insurance as the No. 4 guy and will have a chance to grow into a starting role. As for the Bengals, you can never have too many weapons for a young quarterback.
To learn more about the Bengals and their needs, visit their team page on our NFL Draft website here.