Bengals can fix talent gap at linebacker in 2021 NFL Draft first-round
By Alex Austin
The Cincinnati Bengals have long struggled to field a complete linebacker unit, which has led to many missed tackles, plays, and opportunities. With a top pick in the 2021 draft, should the Bengals look at shoring up this unit? Cincinnati has gone many years with subpar linebacker play.
Even when the team was competing for AFC North titles and making the playoffs, the play of the linebackers hurt the Bengals more than it helped. Rather than attack this area, Cincinnati has signed low-level free agents or late-round draft picks to try and fill this void.
With a top-five pick in this year’s draft, Cincinnati is in a prime spot to bring in a difference-maker. Most mock drafts currently have the Bengals going after Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell to help protect Joe Burrow.
If the Bengals can address the offensive line in free agency, or Sewell is not available at five, the Bengals could look at turning to the defensive side of the ball. There are three linebackers that are currently rated in the top 12 overall players in the draft according to the Pro Football Network.
The Bengals options. at linebacker are
of Penn State,
of Alabama and
of Tulsa could immediately become the best Cincinnati linebacker.
Rather than taking a top-level talent on the offensive side, the Bengals could take a huge step in getting talent in to go up against the Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield, Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson and some of the other top offenses in the league.
A benefit of looking at linebackers early in the 2021 NFL Draft would be that these players would likely all be around with the fifth pick beyond. If Cincinnati is interested in trading back to a potential quarterback hungry team, they could drop a few spots and still land one of these great talents.
Gaining draft capital and filling a need would be a win-win. There are many ways Cincinnati could approach the draft, but it would be wise to take a good look into these top linebackers and see how they might fit on the team.