Among the many concerns the Cincinnati Bengals have to address this offseason, one of the most prominent is the need for additional speed in the wide receiver room. While the club is in a favorable spot when it comes to pass-catchers, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and the rest of the wideouts lack the speed that is needed to consistently take the top off of a defense.
For as good as Joe Burrow was in his rookie season, he could have been better with a consistent threat over the top. The LSU product became notorious for his deep ball connection during his final collegiate campaign, but it was an aspect that hasn’t translated over to the league as of yet. At least in part, that’s because of the lack of burners Zac Taylor had to deploy.
There’s a number of ways Cincinnati can address their speed concern, but they’ll have to balance their resources in order to ensure they shore up the offensive line and fix the pass rush. They could add a guy like Curtis Samuel via free agency, or they could take a look at the prospect pool in the upcoming draft.
Day three prospects could grant the Bengals the speed they need
Right now, a majority of the buzz involves a wide receiver in round one. Ja’Marr Chase would certainly do the trick in providing the Bengals with a deep threat. However, the offensive line class may simply be too good to pass up on this year and it’s likely need and talent collide with Cincinnati’s fifth overall selection.
Fortunately for WhoDey Nation, there are still plenty of speedsters that can be found throughout the rest of the draft. Chatarius Atwell out of Louisville is a player that initially stands out. The Draft Network had this to say about the dynamic athlete,
"“Features blazing speed and the ability to get behind the secondary… Louisville featured him as a vertical receiver but also in jet motion with opportunities to create in space for himself…his dynamic speed to get vertical and add a creative layer to the offense is valuable.”"
If Cincinnati can look past his size concerns (5’9″), he seems like a perfect fit in Taylor’s offense. Not only will he give Burrow a deep threat, but he’s clearly capable of running the sweeps that have become notorious in Taylor’s scheme.
Making the prospect of Atwell in stripes even more intriguing is the fact that he’s currently projected by most to go in the fourth round or later. This would allow the Bengals to attack their many other weaknesses and still find a solution to the speed problem later on.
If things don’t work out in a way that allows Cincinnati to scoop up Atwell, how about a world-class sprinter in Anthony Schwartz? The former Auburn Tiger has dynamic speed. In fact, in 2017, he set a world youth record in the 100-yard-dash.
If that weren’t enough, there are some who believe he could ultimately break the 40-yard-dash record time in the coming months. His addition to the orange and black could finally give Bengals fans the electric playmaking ability they thought they were getting with John Ross.
Schwartz is also currently slated to be selected in roughly the fourth-round, a range the Bengals can certainly afford to invest into his potential if it means finding a solution to the deep passing game problems.
Whether it be Atwell, Schwartz, or another prospect like Marquez Stevenson, Cincinnati should take a flier on one of these speedsters to continue developing their offensive attack. After all, surrounding Burrow with weapons is likely the fastest route back to contention.