The offensive line is the most critical unit in need of an upgrade for the Bengals in the 2021 offseason. Cincinnati is expected to target offensive linemen through free agency and in the 2021 NFL Draft. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell has been the name most often mentioned when the Bengals pick fifth in the NFL Draft.
The 6’6, 325 pound Sewell opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. In 2019, Sewell was a unanimous All-American who won the Morris Trophy as the best lineman in the Pac-12 and the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman. Sewell is the consensus top OL in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If Sewell is on the board when the Bengals select fifth he is expected to be selected. If Sewell is selected before the Bengals’ fifth draft pick, Cincinnati could look to another position. The offensive line and specifically tackle will need to be addressed early and potentially late by the Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pro Football Focus addressed the “2021 NFL Draft: Early- and late-round fits for all 32 NFL teams’ biggest positional needs.” The Bengals could stay close to home after Sewell is projected as their early-round pick. Cincinnati Bearcats OT James Hudson could be a later round pick for the Bengals according to PFF.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: OFFENSIVE LINE
Early-Round Fit: Penei Sewell, Oregon
Later-Round Fit: James Hudson, Cincinnati
“The Sewell fit is obvious, and fingers will be crossed from now until draft day. Hudson is a bit of a project athletic tackle after switching from defensive line early in his college career. He can start at guard early, though, and had one of the highest win rates in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl.”
Sewell is an immediate plug and play at OT and particularly at left tackle. Hudson would provide the Bengals with much-needed depth on the OL. The ability and experience Hudson has on both lines portray an athleticism the Bengals need upfront. At 6’5, 310, Hudson also has the size to play inside or outside on the OL.
How many OL the Bengals take in the NFL Draft will likely depend on who and the amount of OL are signed in free agency. New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney has been the name most often mentioned as someone the Bengals could sign as a free agent. Signing Thuney would likely mean drafting an OT.