NFL Draft: Where would Bengals pick if the season ended today?

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

It’s that time of year again. Mariah Carey’s voice fills the wintry air, farm turkeys get persecuted, and for some NFL teams, 2022 NFL Draft preparations commence.

Usually, the Cincinnati Bengals are one of those pitiful teams already looking ahead to next year’s draft. In 2019, the team started 0-11; in 2020, the team started 1-5-1.

In 2021, Bengals fans can rejoice in the fact that they are not in the loser race to vie for the No. 1 pick. Instead, they currently hold the 17th overall pick after Week 10’s results, according to Tankathon.

Their record is tied with the Las Vegas Raiders (5-4), but since Cincinnati has the lower strength of schedule remaining, they win the tiebreaker.

The Bengals sit right outside the playoff picture, with all AFC North teams failing to jump ahead after Week 10.

Coming out of the BYE, the Bengals will look to end their two-game losing streak, one that has caused them to lose ground in the AFC North and playoff race but has increased their draft selection seeding substantially.

Cincinnati Bengals currently own the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft

Following an unexpected 4-2 start to the season, Cincinnati held the 29th pick overall in next year’s draft.

Now at 17th, the Bengals’ draft position will obviously fluctuate based on their results through the rest of the season, especially if they find some semblance of team identity and go on a winning streak again.

As it stands, 17th overall could get them a quality offensive lineman, which remains one of their biggest draft needs heading into 2022.

Cincinnati may have dodged a bullet in snubbing Penei Sewell for Ja’Marr Chase in 2021, an at-the-time controversial selection that has since aged better with time.

This year, they’re still in need of a long-term upgrade in the O-line, perhaps in center where Trey Hopkins has been vastly underperforming of late, recording one of the worst PFF grades of all centers (43.5).

The Bengals could also use their mid-tier draft pick to bolster the defensive line and pass-rushing unit. D.J. Reader has been one of the highest-graded Bengals so far per PFF, but given Cincinnati’s see-saw-ing defense this year, the Bengals could definitely use more reliable players on the defensive side of the ball.

Joseph Ossai will return in 2022 and hopefully help Trey Hendrickson on the edge, but Cincinnati need to plan for an entire season, and that means having enough depth on the roster should players get injured.

Next. 5 free agents that could bolster Cincinnati Bengals offense in 2022. dark

If the Bengals can’t decide on which unit they want to improve first, protecting Joe Burrow would be a good priority for this cautiously optimistic Bengals team. Can’t have too much cushioning there.