After focusing free agent spending on defense for a second year in a row, the Bengals are expected to prioritize their offensive needs through the draft, including heavy emphasis at the offensive line and wide receiver positions as they seek to add weapons and protection for Joe Burrow. Cincinnati could use some depth pieces on defense, at the edge position or interior defensive line spots, and there could be some other holes filled in the late rounds depending on how things shake out.
Here is a seven-round mock draft of what the Bengals could do in all seven rounds of the NFL Draft, which takes place Thursday through Saturday in Cleveland.
ROUND 1 (PICK NO. 5): Penei Sewell, Oregon, LT
The Bengals seem intent on staying at No. 5 and their pick could be impacted by what Atlanta does at No. 4, but if Pitts, Chase and Sewell are on the board, we’ll go with improving the offensive line with the first pick. Team officials have said protecting Burrow is a top priority and Sewell is considered an elite lineman who could transition quickly into an NFL job even after playing just 21 career games. Sewell, who opted out of the 2020 season, finished as the top-graded offensive lineman in the nation and in Pro Football Focus history at 95.5 as a sophomore in 2019, won the Outland Trophy and was the PAC-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year while also leading the nation with a PFF run-blocking grade of 95.3 and ranking third with a pass-blocking grade of 91.1.
ROUND 2 (PICK 38): Dyami Brown, UNC, WR
If the Bengals go with an offensive lineman in the first round, they will still have some good options in a deep wide receiver class. It’s possible if a top edge player drops, the team could scoop him up instead and take advantage of that depth at receiver in the third round, but otherwise Brown would be a solid choice here. Projected by most as a second- or third-round pick, he’s a deep threat that wins downfield and averaged over 20.0 yards per catch in each of the past two seasons. He’s not physically imposing at 189 pounds, but plays above his weight class.
ROUND 3 (PICK 69): Kendrick Green, Illinois, OG
The Bengals still need to add at guard, and Green is one of the most explosive offensive linemen in the draft, according to ProFootballFocus.com. A former defensive lineman, Green tied for the FBS lead for big-time blocks among interior linemen this past season and he’s a player that could come in and compete for a left guard or center spot as a long-term starter. PFF graded him at 88.0 overall.
ROUND 4 (PICK 111): Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt, EDGE
Odeyingbo is a versatile defender who can get up and down the line of scrimmage with ease and can affect quarterbacks from any alignment. At 6-foot-5, 276 pounds, he was projected as an early third-round pick, but his draft stock suffered a setback when he tore his Achilles prior to the Senior Bowl and he could prove to be a steal here. His 35.25-inch arm length make him a difficult matchup for opposing offensive linemen, and he’s known for his power. The Bengals had some success with Carl Lawson when he fell to them in the fourth round in 2017, and Odeyingbo could be an even better pickup as someone who can kick inside as well. He had 32 tackles (8.0 for loss), 5.5 sacks and one pass broken up in eight games in 2020.
ROUND 5 (PICK 149): Trey Sermon, Ohio State, RB
Releasing veteran Giovani Bernard makes the need for a dynamic running back something they might want to address early on Day 3. They have Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams, but Sermon would be a great depth piece who could fit well in Frank Pollack’s plan. Historically backs taken in the later rounds have proven productive. Sermon isn’t the quickest back but he’s got great contact balance and PFF graded him at 86.1 and a solid fifth-round choice.
ROUND 6 (PICK 190): Tony Poljan, Virgnia, TE
A former dual-threat quarterback who switched to tight end as a freshman at Central Michigan and continued at that spot as a Virginia graduate transfer, Poljan would be a nice addition to the tight end room behind C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample. At 6-foot-7, 251 pounds, he’s got a good frame and the toughness needed at the point of attack, with strong run-blocking capabilities. He’s also got good feet to make sudden catches near the sidelines and catch radius to haul in passes seemingly out of reach.
ROUND 6 (PICK 202): Jacoby Stevens, LSU, S
The Bengals could add another slot receiver here or perhaps even a linebacker as both rooms could use some more depth, but Stevens is a smart, hard-working strong safety prospect who could flourish in a downhill role. He’s best making plays in the box or up the field, but does well with coverage assignments facing the action and he’s strong and uses his hands well to get off blocks.
ROUND 7 (PICK 235): Jose Borregales, Miami, K
Randy Bullock’s departure points to the Bengals taking a kicker to compete with Austin Seibert, and they might even use one of those sixth-round picks to ensure they get one of the top kicker options on the board. Borregales was very good in 2020, connecting on 90 percent of his field goals (18 of 20) and making a long of 57 yards. He also was 8-of-10 between 40 and 50 yards, and he was even more accurate as a junior and sophomore.