Bengals are due for an all-defensive draft in 2022

Kristen Wong
Kaiir Elam #5 of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Kaiir Elam #5 of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In the last few years, the Cincinnati Bengals have made some home-run draft selections with offensive players like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins. Could 2022 be the year for a defensive reckoning instead?

In Zac Taylor’s last three drafts, the Bengals haven’t taken a defensive player before the third round. That will likely change this April, as Cincy has dire needs on the secondary and the interior defense.

Many mocks have the team going after a reachable cornerback prospect like Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. or Florida’s Kaiir Elam given that the unit is arguably the biggest red flag heading into the draft.

Bengals’ senior writer Geoff Hobson recently suggested that the team is “probably due” for defensive first and second round picks, especially at corner and on the edge.

"Last year, after the Bengals signed three cornerbacks and a safety in free agency, they drafted three offensive linemen and four defensive linemen. Now after signing three offensive linemen and re-signing two defensive linemen, could we be looking at primarily a secondary draft?"

Hobson notes that last year’s draft pick, Joseph Ossai, could break out to be the Bengals’ best defender in 2022, but Cincinnati will still want to add extra depth to the pass-rush in this draft.

Cincinnati Bengals will more than likely use early draft picks on their defense

After an impressive offseason that saw the Bengals acquire three starting-caliber O-linemen and a quality tight end, Cincy may be done boosting its offense — for now. (Expect them to pick up a developmental Day 2 or Day 3 TE prospect.)

The team re-signed key secondary members like Eli Apple and Tre Flowers and franchise tagged star safety Jessie Bates, but most NFL pundits believe the Bengals will really look to upgrade their run and pass defense in the 2022 draft.

The Bengals ranked 26th in the league in opponent passing yards per game, and with the AFC making out to be even more cutthroat than last year, Cincinnati had better equip themselves with one or two more elite members of the backfield.

History shows that Cincy hasn’t prioritized the cornerback unit or the defensive line for a long, long time. It’s been six years since the Bengals took a cornerback in the first round and a whopping 21 years since they took a defensive lineman in the first round.

Having spent plenty of money and resources on assembling an all-star offense for the past few years, the Bengals will naturally turn their attention to the defense in 2022. All things considered, one could say the team’s defense overall exceeded expectations last season and served as one of the main reasons Cincy got as far as it did.

Next. 1 EDGE rusher Bengals can target in each round of 2022 NFL Draft. dark

But the Bengals plan to give themselves the best shot at returning to the Super Bowl, and that starts with improving at previously overlooked positions. It’s going to be defense all the way come April.