Bengals trading out of first round seems like most sensible option

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

With the 31st overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals would be wise to trade out of the first round and get an extra late-round selection.

This April, the Bengals’ needs are fairly obvious — after securing quality free agent upgrades to their offensive line, the team must prioritize fortifying the secondary, among other major position groups.

Given the unpredictable nature of this year’s draft class, there’s a chance Cincy can nab a potential starting-caliber corner and receive a late-rounder if the team trades its 31st pick.

In a recent mock draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., the Bengals do exactly that and find a willing trade partner in the New York Jets, who would no doubt love to hold three first-round selections in 2022. In the hypothetical picks trade, the Bengals give the Jets their 31st pick in return for the 35th pick and a fourth-rounder.

Kiper writes of the trade:

"How about a third first-round selection from the Jets? In this scenario, with a glaring hole at center and the top guy still on the board, they deal No. 35 and a Day 3 pick to get back into Round 1. And crucially, they keep their pick at No. 38, which allows them to get more help."

Here’s the kicker: the Bengals would theoretically pass on Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum who somehow falls all the way to pick No. 31 in Kiper’s mock. New York has reason to trade up to take him, and in turn Cincinnati takes Florida corner prospect Kaiir Elam with pick No. 35 as well as acquires another selection on Day 3.

Cincinnati Bengals should seriously consider trading out of first round

"The Bengals would move down just four spots and pick up an extra fourth-rounder. They signed center Ted Karras in free agency among other moves to upgrade their O-line, so their need isn’t as big."

We know the Bengals spent plenty already on their offensive line, but if Linderbaum miraculously falls all the way to the end of the first round, Cincy will face one of its toughest decisions in the draft.

Add a starting-caliber center, or add a starting-caliber corner?

Florida’s Kaiir Elam could make an immediate impact in the backfield, likely beating out Eli Apple for a starting position alongside Chidobe Awuzie as early as mid-season. The fringe first-rounder could turn into an underrated steal at 35th overall, but compared to an O-line juggernaut like Linderbaum? That’s a tough sell.

Ultimately, we tentatively agree with Kiper’s picks and think that his mock gives Cincy what it needs with an extra helping of a fourth-rounder who will add crucial roster depth. The Bengals are due to address their defense anyway, and trading back to get Elam and another selection seems like a most sensible decision.

Next. 6 options at cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2022 NFL Draft. dark

Naturally, people may disagree, but we don’t see anything egregious in Kiper’s choices. To each his own.