Bengals cannot ignore offensive line with 2021 first round draft pick

Rashawn Slater (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Rashawn Slater (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals must not overthink the obvious in the first round. The club used three quarterbacks in 2020. Two of them missed games due to injuries, including the franchise’s great ray of hope, Joe Burrow.

If that doesn’t scream out for offensive line help, there is no telling what does. Yet, there has been a groundswell of logic saying that Cincinnati should go elsewhere with their first pick in April. It is time to pour some ice water on that.

Why not another wide receiver for the Bengals?

We are all enamored with the talent of guys like Ja’marr Chase and Devonta Smith, and rightly so.  Drafting the best player available is a viable option in some cases, but you can’t completely ignore need and Cincinnati simply doesn’t need another big-time receiver.

Most of the playoff teams this year have two pass catchers that make defenses sweat and a third guy that pops on occasion. Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and a mid-round draft pick fit that bill fine. A free agent buy like Curtis Samuel would also do the trick.

A third consistent pass-catcher is a luxury. A decent offensive line is a necessity that the Bengals don’t have.

What if Penei Sewell is gone at the fifth overall pick?

Oregon tackle Penei Sewell has been the desired draft prize for many Bengals fans for some time now. If he’s there when Cincinnati is on the clock with the fifth pick, they should run to the podium. However, the chance that Sewell will get picked before the fifth spot is very real.

If that happens and Cincinnati is unable to trade down, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater would be a suitable pick. Some would call it a “reach” on draft day. However, that label goes away if he becomes a good player. It would be interesting to see what new offensive line coach Frank Pollack can do with a guy like Slater.

This whole conversation changes if the Bengals seriously address the offensive line in free agency. That may or may not happen. For now, the Bengals leaving night one of the draft without a top-shelf offensive line prospect is simply asking for Burrow to get hurt again.

Next. PFF names Joe Thuney as Bengals' top free-agent to pursue. dark