We are less than three weeks away from 2021 NFL Draft and things are beginning to heat up. Now is when teams will fly in their top scouting directors who have been leading the team’s efforts on the road and will bring them in to start going through scenarios that could happen on draft day and really begin to finalize the team’s plans. Teams who are picking in the top 10 should have a very targeted list of players who they will be debating about between now and April 29, and should have a very good idea of who they’ll be selecting come draft day.
For a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who are not only picking in the top five, but also could be in a position to select the first non-quarterback of the draft, they are essentially on the clock. I fully expect the Bengals to know who they will be picking if quarterbacks do indeed go in the first four picks and even if Atlanta takes a position player who Cincinnati likes, they will have a plan B in place.
Here is a seven-round mock draft for the Bengals which could closely resemble their actual haul later this month.
Round 1 (No. 5 overall): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Surprise, surprise. I have long been a believer in the Bengals drafting Penei Sewell if he was available, and in this mock draft I did have a choice between Sewell, Pitts, and Ja’Marr Chase. Since I have chosen Sewell in every other mock I have done, I wanted to select a new player and see how this Bengals draft can turn out. I went with Pitts as I believe the Bengals can find another receiver who can contribute later in the draft. In Pitts, the Bengals are getting a mismatch nightmare who will immediately be Joe Burrow’s go-to weapon. Pitts can align as a traditional Y tight end or be flexed all over the formation. His blend of size, athleticism, and ball skills should make for a fun combination with Burrow.
Round 2 (No. 38 overall): Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
The Bengals are able to add to their offensive line in the second round with the selection of Radunz. Radunz will give the Bengals position versatility as he can play either tackle spot or even kick inside to guard. Radunz is a strong player at the point of attack with excellent balance and hand use. With the signing of Riley Reiff, Radunz can develop for a year inside before eventually kicking outside to tackle.
Round 3 (No. 69 overall): Milton Williams, IDL, Louisiana Tech
Cincinnati will be without long-time star player Geno Atkins for the first time in nearly a decade, and his talent and production will be very hard to replace. Williams is a player who offers a ton of upside as an interior rusher who has excellent explosiveness to shoot gaps but also has strong and active hands to overpower guards inside.
Round 4 (No. 111 overall): Aaron Banks, IOL, Notre Dame
The Bengals are able to further solidify their offensive line with this pick. Banks is a wide-bodied player with outstanding strength at the point of attack. He is a stout player in the run game who is able to easily generate movement upon contact. Banks is a technician in the passing game with a sound anchor. Between him and Radunz, the Bengals would now have two new starting guards.
Round 5 (No. 149 overall): Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
Finally, a receiver! I will admit, i wish I was able to draft one sooner, but the board didn’t shake out the way I had hoped. That being said, Schwartz is fantastic value this late in the draft and his skill set is exactly what the Bengals need. Schwartz offers game-breaking speed and excellent size as a down-the-field home-run threat and will fit in nicely with possession receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
Round 5 (No. 190 overall): Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
Cincinnati added some edge rush help with the addition of Trey Hendrickson in free agency but could still use some more juice off the edge. Johnson offers that and then some. He is an ultra-productive player who offers outstanding versatility. He has played both as stand-up linebacker and a down defensive end and could excel at either at the next level. His length, burst, and bend allow him to routinely get to the quarterback and he is strong versus the run as well.
Round 6 (No. 202 overall): Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
The Bengals recently released longtime backup running back Giovanni Bernard and will now need more insurance behind Joe Mixon, who has dealt with injuries over the years. Jefferson this late is a steal and can be very successful as a change-of-pace runner at the next level. He offers excellent vision, burst, and lateral quickness. He is a one-cut runner who can quickly see the lane and stick his foot in the ground and go. His skill set would fit in nicely in Zac Taylor’s wide zone rushing attack.
Round 7 (No. 235 overall): Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
The late rounds are all about adding players you think could be strong special teams contributors and this is exactly what the Bengals would be getting in Gowan. His size, length, and speed will allow him to stick to the practice squad while the team develops him. Once he is activated to the active roster, he will be an excellent coverage player on special teams.