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NFL Draft

Cincinnati Bengals 2020 NFL Draft Class Recap

  • The Draft Network
  • April 27, 2020
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The Bengals earned the first-overall pick by having the worst winning percentage in the NFL last season. The reward of Joe Burrow inspires hope for things to turn around in Cincinnati. 

The Bengals made most of their free-agent investments to shore up the defense with their top two selections in the draft helping the offense. 

The roster is finding some balance as the Bengals develop under second-year coach Zac Taylor. Let’s take a deeper look into what Cincinnati accomplished in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Cincinnati's 2020 draft picks:

Best Pick: Joe Burrow

The No. 1 selection is low-hanging fruit when it comes to identifying the best pick in a class but landing Burrow has to be a dream come true for Cincinnati. After maxing out the potential to win with Andy Dalton, Burrow has the potential to become one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s coming off arguably the greatest season a college passer ever had and has the accuracy, poise, intangibles, processing skills and ability to thrive under pressure needed to become a franchise’s star. 

Burrow’s Ohio roots and dynamic personality can change the narrative in Cincinnati. 

Biggest Surprise: No OL Help Until Late

After investing the first pick on a quarterback, the Bengals didn’t draft an offensive lineman until their sixth selection, which came at No. 180. It wouldn’t have been an issue if Cincinnati had a strong offensive line in place but it doesn’t. Xavier Su’a-Filo and Bobby Hart are slated to start at right guard and tackle, respectively; this isn’t an ideal situation for Burrow to step into. It’s surprising and disappointing to see the Bengals not take improving the offensive line more seriously and relying on replacement-level starters to protect their new prized quarterback. 

Day 3 Sleeper: Akeem Davis-Gaither

After years of slow, heavy-footed linebackers it appears the Bengals are catching up with the times and what is required from second-level defenders to survive in today’s game. Davis-Gaither is 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds with terrific speed and flexibility; he’s nothing like the linebackers we normally see in Cincinnati. 

In coverage and in a pursuit-style, Davis-Gaither offers exciting potential as a defensive chess piece on sub-packages. He’s also dynamic shooting gaps and weaving through traffic. I didn’t expect him to fall out of Day 2, but the Bengals were fortunate to land him with the first pick of Day 3. 

X-Factor: Tee Higgins

Higgins doesn’t have a skill set that every team can maximize but an accurate quarterback like Burrow can get the most out of him. 

Higgins made so many dynamic plays at Clemson because of his size, body control, ball skills and ability to sell vertical route stems. He doesn’t profile as a great separator at the next level and doesn’t have experience running a full route tree. The way to get the most out of Higgins is by having a passer that can place the ball in positions that Higgins can go get it. His presence on the perimeter can open things up for the entire passing game. 

Summary

The story of Cincinnati’s 2020 draft starts and ends with Burrow. He’s the guy that can make the biggest impact for the Bengals. The rest of the class has plenty of potential to fill important positions moving forward, but Burrow is capable of becoming a franchise-altering quarterback; it’s exciting to see Cincinnati finally have that in place. 

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