Bengals Mock Draft 2022In what was a Cinderella-esque ride through the postseason, the Cincinnati Bengals have nothing to hang their head about as Zac Taylor’s group prepares for the offseason. A campaign that saw the franchise win its first playoff game since 1991 with a superstar duo whose story has just begun, Cincinnati will remain a force to be reckoned with as we move into the coming seasons. A roster littered with headlining talent on the offensive side of the ball, with seven selections currently in the back pocket of de facto general manager Mike Brown, Cincinnati finds itself in a comfortable spot to add high-impact athletes on each of the draft’s three days of action. Using our Mock Draft Machine, I looked at which prospects the Bengals could target in April when the annual NFL draft rolls around. Here is my seven-round Bengals mock draft, including scheme fit, on each prospect:
Round 1 (No. 31 overall): Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston CollegeArguably the biggest position of need of any team in football, the Bengals need fresh legs, and plenty of them, along the front five. A stout interior presence who will slot opposite Jackson Carman, Zion Johnson touts a unique combination of one of the highest ceilings and highest floors of any offensive lineman in the class. A dominant force all year long for Boston College, watching Johnson dominate in Mobile nailed down his status as a surefire first-round selection who possesses the elite potential to become one of the most physically imposing interior maulers the game has to offer.
Round 2 (No. 63 overall): Damone Clark, LB, LSUA leader by example within the nucleus of a defense, I’m really intrigued by the unique ways defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo could use both Damone Clark and Logan Wilson opposite each other. A versatile defender who slots best in a four-man front, Clark can work downhill in the run and sink his hips in coverage, all while offering some pop as a blitzer off the edge. A supremely gifted athlete, he presents a nice fit with Cincinnati having to face Lamar Jackson twice a year—and if Pittsburgh were to indulge in the talent that is Malik Willis, he could represent a perfect fit.
Round 3 (No. 95 overall): Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington StateI was surprised to see Abraham Lucas’ name on the board here late on day two, but if it comes to reality, the Bengals should sprint his name to the podium. A heavy-handed tackle whose best tape comes in pass sets, Joe Burrow would be happy to welcome the 6-foot-7 wall in Lucas as his arm-side protectant.
Round 4 (No. 134 overall): Coby Bryant, CB, CincinnatiThe Robin to Ahmad Gardner’s Batman within the Bearcats’ highly productive defense, the biggest question regarding Coby Bryant’s projection will continue to surround his potential to cover the opposing team’s top offensive weapon, as he was primarily slotted on WR2s at Cincinnati. However, getting live eyes on him in Mobile showed me a player that checks a lot of boxes on the perimeter. A secondary in need of some youth, Bryant’s addition alongside Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton at nickel could present a nice trio of playmakers.
Round 5 (No. 173 overall): Cole Strange, IOL, ChattanoogaMore bodies up front. A nasty vertical mover in the run game, Cole Strange will provide an alpha mentality along the front five that is in desperate need of an identity. While he slots best at center, and the Bengals have a need there, he is also able to work as a depth piece at guard to provide the versatility needed as a day-three selection.
Round 6 (No. 207 overall): Jelani Woods, TE, VirginiaAlthough I expect breakout performer C.J. Uzomah to be back next fall, Jelani Woods would present a nightmare scenario for defenses to cover in 12-personnel packages. A long, fluid athlete who shined at the East-West Shrine game just a few weeks ago, his athletic profile could see him come off the board much sooner than the sixth round.
Round 7 (No. 223 overall): Leon O’Neal, S, Texas A&MA physical, in-your-face defender who plays the game as violent as anyone in the class, if Jessie Bates III looks to reach market value elsewhere, the Bengals will have massive shoes to fill. While Leon O’Neal is a project as a roaming ceiling defender, his instincts when asked to trigger downhill and through contact have popped on tape throughout his collegiate tenure. While this also could be justified as a best-player-available selection, Neal fits a need if Bates III departs and has the ability to slot right in as a core special teamer from the onset of his career.
Round 7 (No. 249 overall): Tre Turner, WR, Virginia TechMore weapons for Burrow! A standout during his career in Blacksburg despite up and down quarterback play, Tre Turner was a constant for the Hokies offense as WR1. With the skill set to rise to become a featured target within an NFL offense, with eyes drawn elsewhere in Cincinnati, Turner could enjoy a nice workload from the onset of his career.
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