Bengals bolster pass protection in early 4-round mock draft
By Riley Thomas
Round 4: Pick 131 – Jeremy Ruckert, TE (Ohio State)
With the last pick in this four-round mock draft, Cincy adds a weapon for Joe Burrow in Jeremy Ruckert.
The Bengals’ second-string tight end Drew Sample has obvious limitations in the passing game. Having tight ends that can both block and be a threat as a receiver is a must in the NFL.
When Sample is in, more than not Cincinnati is going to run the ball or have Sample help in pass protection. He is a small threat in the passing game that defenses do not have to worry about. The starting tight end C.J. Uzomah is also a free agent this offseason.
Ruckert out of Ohio State can block and has good receiving skills. Coming into college, he was seen as that nightmare matchup receiving tight end.
Now four seasons into his career as a Buckeye, Ruckert has turned into an ample blocker. Furthermore, he has ideal size at 6’5″ and 250 pounds. Ruckert has great hands proven by highlight-worthy catches throughout his OSU career.
Okay, so why is Ruckert projected to go this late if he can essentially do it all?
Number one, he does not have the mind-boggling speed for a tight end like a Kyle Pitts or Darren Waller. In addition, his ability as a route runner can be questioned due to his lack of production in college. He simply does not have a lot of production at Ohio State as a receiver. That could be due to the Buckeyes rarely using tight ends under Ryan Day.
Ruckert has still flashed his talent as a receiver here and there. He would be a larger threat than Sample in the passing game and can still help in terms of blocking. He could even eventually become the number one tight end in the offense if the Bengals can channel his flashed potential.
Even with a late pick, Cincinnati can still add plenty of instant impact prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. Without a doubt, the offensive line and cornerback will probably be addressed within the first four rounds of next year’s draft.
Hopefully, the Bengals have a pick this late when the draft season comes around, meaning they had a fantastic season.