The Cincinnati Bengals have an opportunity to fill a hole with the 33rd pick of the NFL draft. Here are some of the team’s best options in round two.
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The odds of Kenneth Murray dropping to pick 33 are looking slim. However, crazier things have happened on draft day. Murray is an explosive linebacker with consistent and powerful tackling abilities. At 6’2” 234-pounds, the 21-year-old is slightly undersized but makes up for it with his range.
With this pick, the Bengals would be acquiring a physical linebacker with solid coverage abilities and lethal sideline to sideline speed. Murray has some decision-making issues, but with good coaching, he could develop into a dominant linebacker in the NFL.
Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Josh Jones out of Houston could be the ideal pick for the Bengals at the top of the second round. Getting protection for Joe Burrow should be high on Cincinnati’s list of priorities, as Jones could step in right away and man the right tackle position in his rookie season.
The 22-year-old is a good athlete for his position, and his length mixed with his power at the point of attack could lead to him being a dominant force for years to come. The former Houston Cougar has some downsides such as footwork and mental processing, but size and athletic ability certainly aren’t the problem. Like Murray, Jones’ downsides are coachable.
Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
Another powerful and athletic offensive lineman, Cesar Ruiz could be exactly what the Bengals need to shore up the interior of their line. Ruiz played center in college but has the ability to play the guard position with Trey Hopkins manning center.
The 20-year-old has exceptional football IQ, and with his size and athleticism, he could end up being a franchise guard for the Bengals in the future. The main downside for Ruiz is his length but he makes up for it with balance, footwork, and technique. This pick would fill a hole and set up Cincinnati to focus on other needs in the 3rd and 4th rounds.
Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
With a starting edge rusher not being an immediate need, this pick makes less sense than the others. But with the Bengals looking at running more 3-4 sets on defense, getting someone like Zach Baun who can play 3-4 outside linebacker could be a nice pickup.
Baun is a bit undersized for an edge rusher and lacks some of the coverage skills needed to be a linebacker, but has the football IQ and technique that could lead to him being a solid player on the Bengals defense.
Going offensive line at 33 with Jones or Ruiz makes the most sense. However, if they are off the board, Baun could end up being the best player available. Trading back could be the right move in that situation, but the Bengals still would likely have the option to use the pick on Baun.
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Denzel Mims was left off this list due to the growing belief that he’ll be selected in the first round, and Tee Higgins is the next best thing. Exceptional hands, great athleticism, and bully-type physicality are some of the traits that the former Clemson Tiger possesses that could lead to him being a dominant force in the NFL.
On the other hand, Higgins struggles with route running and showed a limited route tree in his time in college. The 21-year-old has the athletic abilities, so his upside is high.
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Another potential receiver target for Cincinnati in round 2, Jalen Reagor would be a nice addition for Joe Burrow going into his rookie season. The former TCU receiver is deadly in the RAC game, with blazing speed and explosive quickness.
With John Ross playing limited time and going into his last season on his rookie deal, a replacement could be in order. Reagor is productive on deep-ball throws and makes people miss after the catch.
The 5’11” receiver isn’t limited to only the deep game, as he has the versatility to line up anywhere and make plays. Reagor struggles with blocking, but once again that is something that can be taught at the next level.