With a draft class as talented as this one, it is easy to find prospects you like or that fill a need, but some just fit better than others. Whether it’s a scheme, team need, or play style, certain prospects just look better for specific teams. I am going to talk about a few prospects I think would be perfect fits for certain NFL teams. I will try to include at least one prospect from every level of the draft (1st Round, Mid Rounds, and Late Rounds) and offer a few different scenarios that the team can consider throughout the draft.
Man oh man did the Bengals struggle in 2019. At this point, we all know who they are going to pick come April, and there isn’t anything that can change that. Cincinnati has already said they will not be trading the #1 overall pick, and there is only one option to go, Joe Burrow. So for the sake of this list, I am going to ignore the 1st Round, and just talk about what they can do in rounds 2-7. They do have a pick in every round, giving them quite a list to look at this off season. A new era is about to begin in Cincinnati and nailing the rest of their six picks will be crucial for not just the development of Joe Burrow, but the rest of the organization as well.
1. Patrick Queen, 2nd Round
It seems like the Bengals have been looking for help at linebacker for the past 10 years, and still haven’t found one that impresses them. The linebacker class started off looking like one of the weaker groups in the 2020 Draft, especially once Dylan Moses announced he was staying for his senior season. As of today, the linebacker group has gotten a lot stronger as more tape has been watched, but it still does lack play makers. That is why taking someone like Patrick Queen with their 33rd overall pick would be a smart decesion if he is still sitting there come April 24th. Nick Vigil, who has been their most productive linebacker the past few seasons, is going to be another key free agent.
Queen gives them a versatile linebacker who can be used in a 4-3, or 3-4 style defense. I would expect him to be able to step in for Vigil if not resigned, or play opposite of him and try to build something of their linebackers. Cincinnati has a hybrid scheme, that mainly rushes four, and puts seven in coverage. In 2019, Patrick only allowed 165 total yards on over 350 coverage snaps, proving him to be one of the better linebackers in coverage this year. Bottom line is Patrick Queen can cover sideline to sideline for Cincinnati, and could help transform this defense while they simultaneously redefine the offense.
2. Josh Jones, 2nd Round
Cincinnati will be getting Jonah Williams back from injury this year, basically adding another 1st Rounder to this class. Still though, they need to protect their newest centerpiece, and avoid wasting another quarterback’s prime. They could try and sign someone like Conklin, or Cameron Fleming/Erving if their teams don’t pick up their options. Odds are they don’t though, the Bengals are known for being one of the NFL’s more “cheap” organizations, and sticking with home grown talent they draft. Josh Jones is someone who might not be here in the 2nd Round, but is the odd tackle out on my list. This 2nd Round pick is basically a late 1st, and I think Jones should be able to slide due to Wills Jr, Wirfs, Thomas and Becton all being very great prospects too.
3. Damien Lewis, 3rd Round
Damien Lewis could be the third LSU Tiger to become a Cincinnati Bengal in this class. Lewis is a mauler of an offensive guard, and can really help in improving the 25th best rushing offense in the NFL. Joe Mixon is a great running back, and this pick would also allow him to grow. The continuity of playing with Burrow already is something to consider too.
Jonah Williams will be a nice addition on the outside of the offensive line, but the inside is still questionable. John Miller and Trey Hopkins probably wouldn’t be starting if they weren’t on the Bengals I think Billy Price and Michael Jordan are going to be a good starters in the NFL, but Cincinnati does have some interior offensive line depth heading into free agency. They shouldn’t be too expensive to bring back but Lewis would probably be an upgrade from Day 1.
4. Hunter Bryant, 3rd/4th Round
It is time to move on from Tyler Eifert. He is an upcoming free agent, and really won’t be worth bringing back unless he just signs at a very low rate. We know the Bengals have loved using tight ends in the past, and currently only have C.J. Uzomah as a reliable option at the position. Hunter Bryant is an athletic freak of a tight end, and should be available on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. A big combine performance could change that, but he is currently my 77th overall player on my Big Board. Bryant will give Cincy speed, versatility and play making ability that will be lost if they move away from Eifert.
He reminds me a lot of Gerald Everett on the Rams, who Zac Taylor should be familiar with. Both tight ends are really just glorified receivers and won’t ever be known for their blocking. Bryant did improve this year as a blocker, but will probably take some time to become a reliable blocker in the NFL. He isn’t the red zone threat you would like to see out of him, but he did record 52 catches for over 820 yards last season for Washington.
5. Omar Bayless, Late Rounds
Cornerback, linebacker, and defensive line are all bigger needs currently, but with this deep wide receiver group, you can still find talent late in the draft. A.J. Green most likely is going to be leaving this off season, and the Bengals will be without a true red-zone threat. Auden Tate had his flashes in 2019, but still has yet to cement himself as someone to rely on. Outside of Tate, there isn’t a receiver over 6’2 on the roster that can go up and snatch the ball out the air. Omar Bayless broke all kinds of records at Arkansas State and caught 17 touchdown passes this year. It’s safe to say he can go up and get it. He finished 2nd in the NCAA in receiving yards, and is the first player from Arkansas State to be named to the AP All-American list since 1987. With the whole regime starting to turn over a new leaf, the Bengals will need to build real depth at receiver to give Burrow the options he needs.