Bengals strengthen defense in way-too-early 2022 mock draft
There are some unknowns about the Cincinnati Bengals’ weaknesses since we are so early into the NFL season. Who knows what happens from now until April in regards to Jessie Bates’ III contract situation, if Riley Reiff is re-signed, if Trae Waynes can finally stay healthy and play, or how the linebackers perform this season.
Any of these situations could open up a need for Cincinnati in next year’s drafts. With this in mind, we did a way-too-early Bengals 2022 mock draft using NFL Mock Draft Database’s mock draft simulator.
Sitting at 1-0, Cincinnati is currently holding a later pick than usual when compared to recent drafts. Here’s what the Bengals selected in a full seven-round mock draft.
Round 1: Pick 17 – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB (Cincinnati)
If Cincinnati happens to have a great season and finds themselves with a pick this late, there’s a lot of routes they could go with. They could add some help to the interior offensive line or grab a cornerback.
In this mock draft, they go with a corner. The Bengals paid Waynes a substantial amount of money in the 2020 offseason but so far, his time in Cincinnati has been derailed by injuries. If this continues, cutting Waynes could be on the table, and even if he sticks around is he a reliable starter from week to week? This all remains to be seen.
Depending on how Waynes’ situation unfolds this season, Cincinnati could be in the market for a new cornerback to place alongside Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton. The Bengals simply do not have the depth at cornerback right now. If Waynes continues to be injured in the next two seasons, Eli Apple consistently starting is not ideal.
Ahmad Gardner out of Cincinnati would be a good addition to Cincinnati’s cornerback room. Gardner has been an absolute eraser for the Bearcats throughout his career allowing a passer rating of only 31.2.
He has a lengthy frame at 6’2″ to go along with good athleticism, which should translate well to the next level. Pro Football Network went over some of Gardner’s strengths in their scouting report,
"Elsewhere, Gardner’s profile holds strong. He’s fairly physical at the line of scrimmage, and he has the athleticism to recover if he fails to jam at the line. Gardner is proactive playing the ball at the catch point, and he has the length to consistently disrupt the catch process. He also possesses a great sense of timing, which enables him to convert with his physical traits."
Complementing his coverage skills, Gardner has demonstrated the ability to tackle consistently as well. Gardner has an intriguing matchup with Indiana’s star receiver Ty Fryfogle this Saturday at noon.
Gardner would be a good pick for the Bengals if they want to improve their cornerbacks. Keeping Gardner in Cincinnati would also make this pick pretty enjoyable.