The team possesses a variety of strong key players. Young players, like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are signed under rookie contracts, guaranteeing their spot in the line-up for a few more seasons to come.
So, what needs to be targeted in the NFL draft for Cincinnati to make another Super Bowl appearance?
NFL analysts and fans alike agree that the Bengals need one thing – depth. For success this season, the Bengals seriously need strong starting and secondary players. Three areas of weakness the team must target early in the draft are…
With the re-signing of Eli Apple and Tre Flowers, the Bengals have secured short-term depth to the cornerback position. Both players are only signed to an extended one-year contract, so the position should be a high priority for long-term security.
It’s realistic that Cincinnati will take a corner in the first round. The Bengals need a player with extreme agility and speed.
Due to other teams targeting key positions, it’s possible that the Bengals could land a top-10 corner. Andrew Booth could be an option due to his defensive and ball-handling skills. Many are hopeful that Cincinnati can obtain Booth, but a realistic, and strong, pick is Kaiir Elam out of Florida. Elam possesses the speed, size, and agility that the Bengals need to produce aggressive man-to-man coverage.
The team has already made moves in the free agency to target the weakness in the offensive line. Signing Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, and Ted Karras added two big hitters to the team’s weak spot.
Cincinnati needs versatility with their offensive line and drafting Tyler Linderbaum out of Iowa could create rock-solid protection for Burrow. Linderbaum is a hot prospect center that excelled at Iowa with quick reaction times and skilled combination blocks. Although his lack of size raises questions, the signing would most likely move Karras to left guard allowing the Bengals a complete, powerhouse O-line.
Another option offensively would be a tight end. With C.J. Uzomah signing with the New York Jets, the Bengals signed former Atlanta Falcon, Hayden Hurst. But due to this being a one-year contract, Hurst could also be a ticking clock.
The addition of an elite edge rusher could change the defensive game for Cincinnati. The added position could create needed depth and aggressiveness to the line. A major win for the Bengals would be to draft pass rusher, David Ojabo.
Ojabo was projected to be drafted quickly in the first round, but after suffering an Achilles injury he will likely not play his rookie year. With Ojabo falling down the ranks in the NFL draft, the Bengals may have the opportunity to grab a dynamic player.
Of course, securing another defensive tackle would always be a smart move for added depth. The Bengals need a big player that’s able to absolutely annihilate the opposition’s run game. With many impressive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft, Cincinnati could wait until the second or third round and still sign a key player.
Filling the Holes
After the three main areas of weakness are targeted in the draft, the Bengals can focus on tidying up. The team is in a great position to stack their talent and maintain a fearsome edge for upcoming seasons.
Turning to fourth-round picks and beyond, Cincinnati would do well to pick up a safety due to the uncertainty of Jessie Bates’ return. Adding a punt returner and special teams players to the roster could also make for a well-rounded, Super Bowl contending team.
What do you consider to be the Bengals’ biggest weaknesses entering the draft?