Bengals’ 2021 draft class helped make Super Bowl run possible

Cincinnati Bengals - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals had one of the best rookie draft classes this past season and they were recognized as such. ranked every class from 2021 and the stripes came in at No. 5, trailing just the Chiefs, Broncos, Dolphins, and Lions.

It’s not hard to see why Kansas City would be No. 1, as they hit the jackpot in the second round with Nick Bolton and Creed Humphrey and found a starting right guard in the sixth round in Trey Smith. That’s hard to do, but the Chiefs did it.

No. 5 is a good spot for Cincinnati though, as their rookies played a huge factor in them getting to the Super Bowl.

Bengals rookies were so important in 2021

We’ll start, of course, with Ja’Marr Chase, who wasn’t just the most important rookie on the team but one of the most important players on the team. He did things no rookie receiver had done before, shattering record after record, and as a result, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

In the second round, the Bengals took Jackson Carman and while he didn’t thrive as a rookie, there’s reason to believe he can still help the team moving forward. He was a left tackle in college and Cincinnati not only moved him from the left side to the right side but also transitioned him from a tackle to a guard.

Here’s what Nick Shook said about the Bengals’ third and fourth-round picks:

"The promising Ossai had his year wiped out by a preseason wrist injury. Sample filled a rotational role, recording 1.5 sacks and 14 tackles. Shelvin only played considerable snaps in two games (Week 18 at Cleveland and Cincinnati’s Divisional Round win over Tennessee). Smith was a backup whose chance at significant action came when Cincinnati rested its starters in Week 18."

In the fifth round, Cincinnati surprised some people by selecting a kicker but we all saw why Evan McPherson was the only kicker drafted. He rose to the occasion and knocked through the game-winner multiple times, including in the AFC Divisional Round and AFC Championship Game. Without him, the team might not have made the Super Bowl. Now every team wishes they had taken McPherson.

Here was Shook’s thoughts on the remaining draft picks:

"Hill played ample snaps in a few games in 2021, manning a fill-in role otherwise. Evans became a nice spell back behind Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Hubert’s rookie season ended in July as a result of a torn pectoral."

Out of this draft class, the biggest stars were obviously Chase and McPherson but the other players still did their part in getting this team to the final game of the season. They’ll only get better with time too.

"Predicting how Bengals OL will look in 2022 after Super Bowl performance"

The Cincinnati Bengals have been a team that relied on their draft picks to help them rebuild and we saw just that play out in front of our very eyes this past season.