Come April, the Cincinnati Bengals will be going all in on their offensive line and could find quite a few starting-caliber prospects for 2022.
2022 will be a different year for the Bengals for a host of reasons. Their highest draft pick is 31st overall. They’re coming off a Super Bowl run and a winning record. They actually have….hope? It’s a weird feeling.
But the Bengals have failed to adequately fill positions of need in drafts prior, so the onus now falls on Zac Taylor and the coaches to (you already know what we’re about to say) improve the damn offensive line.
NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said Cincinnati can find significant upgrades for the offensive line even in the mid-rounds of the 2022 draft:
"“They’re going to be able to find upgrades to the offensive line throughout this draft. They’re going to get players in the third, fourth round in this draft that are better than the guys, some of these guys that they trotted out there and started in the Super Bowl. They’re going to have a lot of opportunities to address that position.”"
Cincinnati Bengals have every chance to build offensive line in 2022 NFL Draft
Just to be clear, Jeremiah is saying the team can find third or fourth-round prospects who are already technically and tactically better than the five offensive linemen starting for the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
That’s a bold statement indeed. There might be a hint of truth to it, though we wouldn’t put money on any rookie (except maybe 49ers’ Trent Williams) holding his own against Rams’ Aaron Donald.
The Bengals learned the hard way about just how important the O-line is when competing against elite teams, especially since Cincy has such a talented passing and rushing offense at its disposal. All that goes to waste if you can’t protect the quarterback. Including the playoffs, Burrow was sacked 70 times in 2021 in his first season back from his ACL injury. Cincy’s Super Bowl dreams hinge on Burrow staying healthy, which in turn hinges on (you guessed it) quality offensive linemen.
Cincinnati may put in a few calls for vets Terron Armstead and Bradley Bozeman this offseason, but drafting well may breed a more sustainable model for success.
From Boston’s Zion Johnson to Louisiana’s Max Mitchell, the Bengals have a wide variety of O-line prospects to pick from this April. Choose wisely.