Bleacher Report says Bengals failed Joe Burrow once again
The dust has settled from the 2021 NFL Draft and after the first round had concluded, the Bengals were under heavy scrutiny for their pick of Ja’Marr Chase No. 5 overall. It wasn’t the pick of Chase itself that confused people, but rather why the Bengals were passing on top tackle prospect Penei Sewell.
Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report wrote a lengthy article detailing how the decision to pass on Sewell in the draft means the organization failed Joe Burrow, their former No. 1 overall pick and the guy they hope to build their franchise around. Burrow was injured in the 10th game of his rookie season because he wasn’t getting ample protection and went on to miss the final six games.
With that in mind, it seemed obvious that Cincinnati would give Burrow the protection he needs upfront, but Sobleski says they failed to do that.
"The Bengals offensive line ranked among the league’s worst last season. They finished among the bottom three in overall performance, according to PFF. Injuries played a role, but Cincinnati never featured a complete front five and the unit lacked quality depth. Defenders hit, hurried or sacked Burrow more than the vast majority of quarterbacks.Ultimately, Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury.Going into this offseason, the Bengals had two competent-to-good starting options already in place. Jonah Williams, whom the team selected 11th overall two years ago, should be fine at left tackle. Trey Hopkins is another solid performer at center. From there, a lot of work needed to be done and didn’t exactly happen."
The Bengals failed to give Joe Burrow the protection he needs upfront.
I agree that the Bengals should have taken Sewell and not Chase but I do think Sobleski’s assessment here is a bit harsh. He played with Chase at LSU and the two had undeniable chemistry, which is proven with them leading the Tigers to a National Championship in the 2019 season (doesn’t that seem like so ago?).
While the Bengals still should have taken Sewell, it’s not like they sat back and did nothing for their offensive line. They added Riley Reiff through free agency, who is a respectable option at right tackle. He’s signed on just a one-year deal but there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Reiff and what he can bring to this o-line.
The Bengals also addressed the offensive line in the draft, selecting Clemson tackle Jackson Carman in the second round with the expectations that he’d kick inside to guard for the 2021 season. They also drafted D’Ante Smith in the fourth round and Trey Hill in the sixth round, giving them three total o-linemen selected in this draft.
Sobleski also touches on how the first receiver taken in the draft seldom makes a significant impact as a rookie. He included a chart in his article, which shows that Amari Cooper, back when he was with the Raiders, was the only top receiver to record over 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie. The point he’s trying to make is that there would have been more value taking Sewell than Chase.
The Bengals are going to be under fire for this pick for quite some time unless Chase absolutely balls out and is the reason Cincinnati wins a few extra games. If Sewell ends up being a top tackle in the league, however, it’ll be hard looking back at this draft and wondering what could have been, especially if Burrow gets injured badly again.
While Sewell would have been the smart pick at No. 5, he’s probably thrilled to have his LSU teammate on the field with him again. This wasn’t some random defensive tackle or cornerback that Cincinnati took, it was Burrow’s favorite target from a season in which he threw for over 6,000 yards and led his team to a title.
The Bengals didn’t fail Joe Burrow. They got him his favorite weapon and that’s scary for the rest of the division.