Joe Burrow to Cincinnati is almost a formality at this point as we continue to close in on the NFL Draft. Now, the focus shifts to the second round and who the Bengals could target to begin day two.
The 2020 NFL combine is now officially behind us as we move closer to the NFL Draft. This past week provided clarity for the future. Joe Burrow spoke to the media and seemed to put to rest any doubts about his willingness to play for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Of course, anything can happen. However, it’s getting close to the point where you can write it in marker. Burrow will be the number one pick of the draft. With that said, who could the Bengals be looking at in round two?
That is the million-dollar question. If the draft is anything, its unpredictable. Based on historical precedence, there will certainly be players taken in the first round that no one will see coming. The great thing about that is there will players available in the second round that no one would have ever imagined as well.
Seeing that there is no way of predicting these things, let’s look at what can be forecasted, based on what we have heard.
The team website has seemed to indicate that the Bengals will look at a defensive player, regardless of position, as they look to revamp that side of the ball. That could be a number of different guys, so let’s throw some names out there of who could be available.
The first possible prospect is Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa. There’s a chance that the former Hawkeye could be gone well before pick 33, however, his poor workout at the combine could cause his stock to fall. Some mock drafts already have him slotted in round two.
Epenesa tested slow and showed a lack of athleticism necessary to play on the edge at the next level. However, at 6’5″ and 275 pounds, it not unreasonable for him to add 10 to 15 pounds and see him kick inside. The Iowa product wins with power more than speed anyway, so this could be a perfect fit as the Bengals look to beef up their defensive line.
Linebacker will certainly be on the watch list as well. The top realistic targets for Cincinnati will be Patrick Queen from LSU as well as Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. Unfortunately, at this point, both are more likely to go in the mid to late first round. That being said, if one is there, the Bengals would most likely run to the podium to turn their card in. Ohio State’s Malik Harrison is another possibility after a strong showing in Indy.
When dealing with Cincinnati, never count out defensive back, especially corner. If someone like Jeff Gladney from TCU or Jaylon Johnson from Utah is available, then the Bengals could certainly pounce. Both are fringe first-round talents and would make a lot of sense. Another prospect to keep an eye on is Noah Igbinoghene of Auburn, who is quickly rising up draft boards.
Defensive backs like Xavier McKinney from Alabama or Grant Delpit from LSU could find themselves waiting to hear their names called to begin day two as well. Safety isn’t the biggest need on the roster, but the value could be too good to pass up if either is available.
The Edge-rusher/OLB position is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of Lou Anarumo’s defensive scheme. Zach Baun would be a perfect fit for this role with his athletism as well as pass-rushing ability. The former Wisconsin Badger could even take snaps at inside-linebacker if needed and would be a nice chess piece for the Bengals. Another edge rusher to remember is Terrell Lewis of Alabama, who offers a very similar skill-set.
Though defense could be the priority, the Bengals seem to be open to looking at wide receivers as well. Luckily, this class has plenty of solid options at the position. It has been predicted that up to six or seven could go in the first round. As talented as this group is, not every team is going to take one in round one, so it is possible that someone will slip further down the draft board than they should.
Former Baylor Bear Denzel Mims would be a great pickup in the second round. Mims is an athletic specimen at 6’3″, 215 pounds. If he is available at the top of day two, he may be too good to pass up.
Targeting the offensive line is also a possibility, however, It would probably take someone like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas to fall before that happens.
The final potential scenario involves the Bengals trading down. There is a high likelihood that enough players could be available at 33 that the front office could trade out and acquire more picks. This would be risky, but also well worth it.
Whatever way the Bengals go, day two of the draft looks to be an exciting one in Cincinnati, with plenty of premium talent looking like they’ll be available.