Finding fits for the Cincinnati Bengals: OT Christian Darrisaw
Christian Darrisaw has had an impressive year at left tackle for the Virginia Tech Hokies, is he a fit for the Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft?
With the conclusion of the 2020 season, the top end of the draft order is set. The Cincinnati Bengals are owners of the fifth overall pick and slated to add another big-time collegiate prospect this offseason. In this series, we’ll be analyzing the prospect pool to determine the best fits for the club. First up on the list? Christian Darrisaw.
Darrisaw is a 6’5, 314 lb. offensive lineman who was a three-star recruit for the Hokies in 2018. He was an immediate starter, playing 12 games at left tackle as a freshman, earning the honor of being selected to the 247 Sports Freshman All-American team.
Darrisaw continued to impress throughout his college career. In 2020 as a junior, he ranks as PFF’s second-highest graded tackle, posting an impressive mark of 95.6. That has led to him being well regarded in the scouting world, with his name regularly generating day one buzz.
How the draft analysts currently rank Christian Darrisaw
CBS Sports currently has Darrisaw ranked as their 19th best prospect, while The Draft Network has him coming in at number 12, second only to the consensus top tackle, Oregon’s Penei Sewell.
It has been a steady rise up draft boards for the Virginia Tech product, who you are unlikely to have found in many preseason mock drafts. While it was a disappointing season for the Hokies as a whole, Darrisaw was a bright spot, offering stellar protection for quarterback Hendon Hooker.
The Draft Network’s Joe Marino had the following to say about the young lineman:
"From a size, length, and mobility standpoint, Darrisaw firmly checks the boxes and should immediately become an asset to an NFL franchise in pass protection, outside zone runs, and utilizing his exceptional ability to pull and connect with moving targets in space."
Darrisaw is not a finished product by any means. His upper body strength and anchor make him difficult to move at the point of contact. However, against stand-up edge rushers, he can be undone by speed and bend off the edge. Darrisaw needs to work on his footwork and ability to reset to negate quicker edge rushers.
Does Christian Darrisaw fit what the Bengals need in 2021?
Absolutely. The Bengals were in pole position to take Sewell until they rallied and won a couple of games late in the season. While Sewell remains in play, fans and front office alike have had to look elsewhere for help on the offensive line.
Darrisaw’s history as a left tackle suggests that Jonah Williams would perhaps have to shift to the right side. However you attack it, adding a player like Darrisaw likely gives the Bengals a pair of bookend tackles for the foreseeable future.
The Bengals moved on from position coach Jim Turner at the end of the season, suggesting management is aware that the group has continued to be sub-standard throughout 2020.
An overhaul is still needed and you can expect them to be active in the free agency market. However, if tackle remains a question mark going into the draft Darrisaw’s name is likely to be in the frame in round one.
Where should the Bengals be targeting Christian Darrisaw in the draft?
Left tackles with three years experience at a Power 5 school as well as the required measurables don’t fall that far come draft day. As of now, it seems unlikely a player with Darrisaw’s skill set at such a valuable position drops out of the top 20.
For the Bengals, that means it would have to be their 1st round pick to grab Darrisaw. The problem with that is they will have a bevy of elite non-QB prospects to choose from at pick number five. While Darrisaw is a first-round talent, it is the value of left tackles helping him get into the top 10 rather than solely his game tape.
Could the Bengals bring themselves to select Darrisaw while the likes of Devonta Smith, Kyle Pitts, and Patrick Surtain Jr. remain in play? One interesting development could be that quarterback-needy teams like Carolina or potentially Detroit could target the fifth overall pick to grab their next franchise signal-caller.
While I see it as unlikely for the Bengals to use the fifth pick on Darrisaw, if they get good value to trade back, he would certainly be in the conversation.
Darrisaw has been an excellent left tackle in college football and would be a strong addition to the Bengals offensive line group. While he doesn’t have top-end draft value, Bengals fans should be happy if they trade back and still land him along with extra picks.