No matter what kind of production the Cincinnati Bengals get from Ja’Marr Chase, the No. 5 overall pick, they’ll always be criticized for the decision to take him over Penei Sewell, especially if Sewell turns into an All-Pro tackle. Those are much harder to find than wide receivers and while Chase wasn’t a bad selection, the Bengals had bigger needs.
The Bengals’ biggest priority this offseason should have been to ensure that Joe Burrow had the best possible offensive line to protect him. Not having that last season cost Burrow the final six games of his rookie season and he had to have major surgery just one year into his NFL career. That’s not ideal.
The Bengals likely took Chase because they wanted to give Burrow his favorite weapon from a season in which he threw for over 6,000 yards at LSU. This shows the organization wants to give Burrow the tools to succeed but it wasn’t the most practical decision.
The Bengals’ decision to take Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell will follow them forever.
Maybe Chase pans out and the Bengals don’t get as much criticism for the move. If Penei Sewell becomes an All-Pro tackle for the Lions, however, it won’t matter if Chase goes on to put up 1,000 yards for every year of his career. It won’t matter if Chase wins Offensive Rookie of the Year with his college quarterback throwing to him. It won’t matter what he does with the Bengals when they could have had the All-Pro (hypothetically speaking, of course) left tackle in Sewell.
Chase can have a decorative career but if Sewell becomes an All-Pro at his position and the Bengals still have trouble protecting Burrow, it won’t matter much. They would have passed on the chance to have consistency at left tackle for a player who wasn’t necessarily needed in the offense.
The only way the Bengals won’t be under the microscope for taking Chase over Sewell would be if Sewell flames out early and is out of the league in a few years. Obviously no one wishes for that though. It could also work out for the Bengals if the offensive line gets it together or if Chase is the sole reason this team making a deep playoff run and maybe eventually winning a Super Bowl.
More than likely, however, this will be a move that many question for quite some time and while that’s unfair to Ja’Marr Chase, that’s just the nature of the league.