The Bengals surprised a lot of people when they took Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick and not Penei Sewell, who many had linked them to throughout the offseason. It makes sense as to why people would connect the Bengals to Sewell, as Joe Burrow was injured due to not having protection upfront.
Chase isn’t a bad pick by any means and the temptation to pair him back up with Burrow makes a lot of sense for the Bengals. However, the importance of having a good offensive line can’t be understated. For the most extreme example of this, look no further than Super Bowl LV where the Kansas City Chiefs were demolished by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because their offensive line couldn’t block for Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs lost that Super Bowl because they didn’t have the proper protection for their quarterback and this is a lesson that all NFL teams should have taken notice of. Teams can add as many weapons as they want but without a solid offensive line to give the quarterback time to throw, it won’t matter too much.
Cincinnati is building a very lethal offense as they should with Burrow as their signal-caller. The problem for them this past season, however, wasn’t the lack of weapons. Burrow missed the final six games of the season because the o-line wasn’t good enough to protect him, he got hit, and that was all she wrote for his 2020 season.
Penei Sewell would have given Joe Burrow and the Bengals insurance along the offensive line.
While Sewell was seemingly the right pick at the position, had Cincinnati drafted him, there could have been some issues as far as where to put him. Riley Reiff was signed for this year to be the team’s right tackle, they took Jonah Williams in round one two years ago and he’s their left tackle, so where would Sewell go? It seems logical that he’d have been at right tackle and Reiff would be kicked inside to guard, but that’s a situation that the Bengals have now avoided.
Still, it’s hard to excuse passing on a near sure thing at tackle, especially considering what happened to Burrow last year. Chase is going to add explosiveness, but as Ryan Leaf said several times while filling in as the guest host of The Rich Eisen Show, “Would you rather have Joe Burrow throwing to Auden Tate and Tee Higgins or do you want Brandon Allen throwing to Ja’Marr Chase?”
In the critical moments of a close game, Chase may or may not make a difference for the Bengals, but Sewell would likely have. He’d have ensured that Burrow had ample time to throw the football and get the team down the field.
We’ll see if Cincinnati goes on to regret this pick down the road but after watching a very good Chiefs team get pummeled because they didn’t have an offensive line, the Bengals passing on a good tackle prospect is a head-scratcher.