Fans of the Cincinnati Bengals have spent a good portion of the offseason wondering if the club should trade back in the first round. By the looks of it, the debate between Penei Sewell vs. Ja’Marr Chase vs. Kyle Pitts vs. trading back will rage on until the night of the draft, and perhaps rightfully so.
Regardless of the route taken by the front office on the opening night, there’s another question worth asking: Should the Bengals trade back in round two?
It’s a transaction the franchise has pulled off masterfully in the past. In 2018, they moved off their initial second-round selection and still ended up with the best safety in all of football, Jessie Bates III. Just the year prior to that, they opted to trade back in the second round once more and landed their star running back, Joe Mixon.
In one instance they moved back eight spots and forfeited a fourth-round pick in exchange for an extra third-rounder. In the other, they dropped just seven spots and still gained an extra fourth-round pick in the process.
That’s some notable draft capital for a team that has a number of holes on its roster. It’s certainly a move worth considering in this year’s draft.
A scenario where trading back makes the most sense for the Bengals
It’s no secret the number one offseason priority for the Bengals is shoring up the offensive line to better protect Joe Burrow. Naturally, many have Cincinnati netting either one of the top two offensive tackles, Sewell or Rashawn Slater, in round one.
However, it is a deep class at the position and there could be another intriguing tackle that falls to them in round two. Jonah Williams is capable of playing to guard, so perhaps the Bengals would kick him inside and snag another talented bookend, right? Not so fast.
According to comments recently made by offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, the Bengals seem intent on keeping Williams at tackle. Going off that information, if they get Sewell/Slater in round one, they’ll be set at tackle, taking them out of the market for another at the top of round two.
The NFL is an offensive line starved league, however. If the Bengals aren’t interested in taking a bookend, there will undoubtedly be teams calling to move up to ensure that they can and those are conversations Cincinnati’s front office should be willing to have.
Moving back could still put them in position for an intriguing pass rusher such as Joe Tryon or Joseph Ossai. Sticking to the defensive player theme, a nice running mate for D.J. Reader like Dayvion Nixon or Levi Onwuzurike would still likely be in play. Even an exciting corner like Ifeatu Melifonwu or Greg Newsome II would be an option.
To put it simply, if the Bengals figure out their offensive line by the conclusion of round one, they can trade back in round two, get a serious defensive difference-maker, and net an extra third or fourth-rounder that can go towards filling other needs. Perhaps the extra selection turns into a speedy wideout for Burrow or an intriguing pass-catching tight end.
If a scenario like the one above comes to fruition, the Bengals could have a starting five that looks something like: LT- Penei Sewell LG- Joe Thuney C- Trey Hopkins RG- Quinton Spain/third-round selection RT- Jonah Williams. Plus, the defense would get another young, talented player to build around.
It’s certainly a feasible outcome and one worth discussing among the orange and black faithful. While hotly debating the merits of trading back in the first round, don’t forget to bring up the second round possibilities.