Bengals offseason ranked third in AFC North by CBS Sports
The Bengals were aggressive in free agency but left holes entering the 2021 NFL Draft next week. Cincinnati was ranked third in the AFC North for how well their offseason has gone. Cincinnati added help with edge rusher Trey Hendrickson, offensive lineman Riley Reiff and cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton.
Hendrickson was brought in to help upgrade a Bengals pass rush that finished last in the NFL in 2020 with 17 sacks. Cincinnati will likely add another edge rusher in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. Reiff was signed to a one-year contract that will help solidify a weak offensive line.
Some projections have the Bengals taking Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft next week. If Cincinnati goes in another direction at five, expect them to select an OL with the 38th overall pick in the second round. Reiff is not the long-term answer as the projected right tackle.
Awuzie and Hilton project as starters for the Bengals. Awzuie signed with Cincinnati from Dallas and with Hilton get an experienced slot CB that knows the AFC North having previously played with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The additions of Awuzie and Hilton could preclude Cincinnati from drafting a CB.
"3. Cincinnati BengalsThe good: The Bengals’ off-field moves have garnered more attention than anything they’ve done as it relates to roster moves. The team recently announced a new Ring of Honor while making changes to its uniform. On the field, the Bengals invested $60 million over four years in defensive end Trey Hendrickson.The Bengals further added to their defense with the signings of cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, a former division rival with the Steelers. To help protect Joe Burrow, Cincinnati added a veteran to the offensive line in offensive tackle Riley Reiff.The bad: The Bengals have yet to sign a veteran receiver to replace A.J. Green. Cincinnati also should have done more to address their needs at EDGE (rusher) and on the offensive line. Reiff and Hendrickson are good starts, but the Bengals will have to invest more in both positions via the draft."
The evaluation of the offseason by CBS Sports is not taking into account what Cincinnati plans to do in the NFL Draft. If the Bengals draft an OL and WR in the first two rounds they will have helped add talent at two of their most needed positions. Cincinnati can add an edge rusher in the middle rounds.
With three major positions needs, the Bengals risk getting shut out on one of them during the first three rounds of the draft. Expect LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Sewell in the first round. The second and third rounds will be dictated by who Cincinnati takes in the third round.