The Bengals build around Burrow in way-too-early 2021 mock draft

Cincinnati Bengals, Ja'Marr Chase (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Ja'Marr Chase (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Malcolm Koonce (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo

Following three rounds of drafting to help the offense, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo gets his turn to get his hands on a bright young prospect. With Carl Lawson an impending free agent in 2021, an edge rusher could be the Bengals’ top need on the defense. The explosive pass rusher’s abilities would be sorely missed and it would be hard to fill his shoes with just anyone.

In the fourth round, the Bengals attempt to fill Lawson’s shoes with Malcolm Koonce of the University at Buffalo. Koonce is an explosive edge rusher with experience both upright and with a hand in the dirt. After a 9 sack season in 2020, a big senior year could drive the Bulls’ rusher’s stock up even higher.

While Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard will remain the starting defensive ends, a potential Lawson departure would leave a gaping hole in the Bengals’ defense. If Koonce comes to Cincinnati, he could develop into the perfect replacement.

Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota

Going into the 2020 season, the Bengals are stacked at running back. Joe Mixon is one of the top ten backs in the league. Giovani Bernard is a dynamic backup. Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson are both talented young players waiting for their times to shine. At the moment, running back does not feel like a need, but that could change in 2021.

Mixon is entering a contract year in 2020 and he is likely to ask for a lucrative deal. If the Bengals’ front office comes to the conclusion that a running back is not worth the money he’s asking for, they could move on from their star player.

Although Mixon’s departure would sting, it wouldn’t put an end to the Bengals’ running game. Head coach Zac Taylor could look to go with a running back by committee approach, allowing Bernard, Williams, and Anderson to split touches. Wielding a talented group of multiple running backs could be smart, just look at the two Super Bowl teams from 2020. Both the 49ers and Chiefs used a committee at running back and made it to the ultimate stage.

Mohamed Ibrahim is a powerful back who could add physicality to a potential committee for the Bengals. The Minnesota running back would not be a frontrunner for the lead role in his rookie year, but he could make defenses pay in short-yardage situations while fighting for more touches as he develops. A group of Bernard, Williams, Anderson, and Ibrahim could easily match Mixon’s production.

Dicaprio Bootle, CB, Nebraska

The Bengals are solid at the cornerback in position in 2020. The additions of Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander in free agency give Cincinnati a potentially elite secondary. However, after 2020, only 4 cornerbacks are currently under contract: Waynes, Darius Phillips, Winston Rose, and Isaiah Swann. That’s not a very promising group.

While the sixth round isn’t a place to find starting corners, it’s a perfect spot to find depth. Dicaprio Bootle of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is a cornerback who could be a solid backup and special teams player for the Bengals.

Bootle has yet to have an interception in college, but he ranks third in forced incompletions percentage since 2018 according to Pro Football Focus. He wouldn’t start for the Bengals, but they could feel good about putting him on the field in the event of an injury.

Camryn Bynum, CB, California

With a potential lack of training camp bodies at cornerback in 2021, the Bengals could double up on the position in the 2021 draft. Camryn Bynum of the California Golden Bears could compete for a spot on the Bengals’ roster as a rookie.

After 2020, Bynum will have been a four-year starter for the Golden Bears. This much playing experience could be very useful for the Bengals to have on the backend of their roster. If poor athleticism causes Bynum to be there late in the draft, the front office could find a valuable piece of depth.

Next. Five players the Bengals can’t afford to see opt-out. dark