5 first-round scenarios for Bengals at right tackle in 2024 NFL draft

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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The Bengals could make the “safe” pick

The most likely scenario would be to take a tackle to start him on the right side. There are several drawbacks to this scenario playing out this year. 

First, many players in this year’s draft that Cincinnati will be eyeing have only played on the left side. There is not much versatility in the 2024 tackle class. 

Several names are being mentioned as potential offensive line targets for the Bengals. However, the player that jumps out is JC Latham. He is a safer and better pick than Amarius Mims from Georgia. Furthermore, we can make a convincing argument that Latham is a better prospect than Taliese Fuaga. 

Latham is expected to come off the board in the middle of the first round. He was very good at pass protection and got excellent movement off the ball when Alabama rushed the ball. Honest evaluators will note that Latham gets a better push at the line of scrimmage in the run game than his counterparts close to him in rankings.

Also, Latham holds the edge over others as a prospect for the Bengals because he played on the right side. Cincinnati does not have to project him as a starting right tackle like they would with most other players with first-round grades from the experts.

Pro Football Focus ranks Latham as their 19th-best overall prospect.  

The Bengals could make a "reach" pick

One of the most overused phrases in NFL draft parlance is “reach.” The value of a work of art is the price that someone is willing to pay for it. What a draft pick provides a team might not be what he would bring to your team. That does not make it a reach. It means the player is just not right for you. However, there are consensus draft boards everywhere that provide us insight into what organizations think about players. 

Here, a reach is someone who is not considered a first-rounder but will not make it to the Bengals at 49. There are several “reach” candidates for the Bengals to consider at 18. Jordan Morgan, Patrick Paul, and Kingsley Suamataia are intriguing prospects who should garner more attention as the evaluations continue. 

If Cincinnati chooses to target one of the three, it would be beneficial to flip 18 for more picks later in the draft. But they would be wise not to trade down too far. Morgan and Paul are going to continue to rise. And teams will fall in love with Suamataia’s tape from last year when he dominated on the right side of BYU's offensive line. Mock Draft Database ranks Morgan, Paul, and Suamataia 35th, 47th, and 41st, respectively.

No matter how it plays out, the Bengals cannot repeat what they did in the 2018 draft. In one of the worst draft-day moves for a team with a long and distinguished list of such moves, Cincinnati traded down from the 12th to the 21st pick. The Detroit Lions famously picked Frank Ragnow, while the Bengals infamously selected Billy Price. 

The Bengals could do nothing at 18 for RT

Another option for an organization that has struggled to solidify the offensive line is not to address the tackle position with the 18th overall pick. 

If the Bengals do not select a tackle at 18, it would mean there was a free agent brought in to be a starter. Some fans are enamored with the idea of Jermaine Eluemunor potentially joining the squad. Also, the New England Patriots recently voided the contract of their starting tackle, Trent Brown. 

Cincinnati could take another position of need and hope that an offensive lineman they have a high grade on falls to them in the second round. It is unlikely this is the route the team would take while trying to limit the hits Burrow will take next season. Yet, it would not be the first time. 

Famously, the Bengals chose Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell in the 2021 NFL draft. That decision has worked out for all parties involved. A similar scenario could happen this year. If the team loves Brock Bowers as much as some fans do, they could forgo selecting a tackle in favor of the talented tight end. 

Cincinnati cannot afford to make another critical mistake along the offensive line with Burrow heading into his fifth season. While it is possible that the Bengals will not use their first-round pick to help secure the offensive line, it should be option number one. Whether used to make a selection, trade up, trade back, or trade away, using the 18th overall pick to help protect Burrow should be the priority.