The 2020 season started off with so much optimism for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they finished 4-11-1 after losing #1 pick QB Joe Burrow to an ACL injury in Week 11. Although the record put the Bengals in last place of the American Football Conference (AFC) North Division, Cincinnati has the potential to have a turnaround season because five of their eleven losses were by five points or less and because Burrow is currently on the mend.
However, Cincinnati must find some more players that will be capable of making plays that can turn losses into victories. Fortunately, the Bengals possessed many picks in this year's National Football League (NFL) Draft. Let us take a look at who Cincinnati selected.
Round 1, Pick 5: Ja'Marr Chase - WR - LSU (6'0", 201 lbs). Chase sat out the 2020 season in college, but his 2019 statistics were astounding (84 receptions, 1,780 yards, 20 TD). He is a game-breaker that makes a significant impact on the outside. His play-making ability will open everything up for the Bengals offense. You could see Chase have the same impact on the Cincinnati offense that Justin Jefferson, his former teammate, had last season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Round 2, Pick 14: Jackson Carman - G - Clemson (6'5", 317 lbs). Carman started for the past two seasons at left tackle, but Cincinnati projects for him to play at guard. He will be given a chance to compete for one of the starting guard positions on the offensive line. If he does not start, then he will add depth because he can play at either guard or at tackle.
Round 3, Pick 5: Joseph Ossai - DE - Texas (6'4", 256 lbs). Ossai creates plenty of pressure along the edge (55 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two pass break-ups, 3 forced fumbles). He does not take plays off and looks to disrupt the offense on each and every play.
Round 4, Pick 6: Cameron Sample - DE - Tulane (6'3", 267 lbs). Sample gave everyone a good sample-size of stats last season (52 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, three pass break-ups). Sample and Ossai will both be competing for major minutes along the defensive line next season.
Round 4, Pick 17: Tyler Shelvin - DT - LSU (6'2", 350 lbs). Shelvin is a run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. He dropped down further in the draft than what was expected because he opted out of the 2020 season. Nevertheless, he should see some playing time in Cincinnati's defensive tackle rotation.
Round 4, Pick 34: D'Ante Smith - OT - East Carolina (6'5", 305 lbs). Smith suffered a season-ending injury, but started the previous two seasons at left tackle. Smith will add more depth to the Bengals offensive tackle rotation.
Round 5, Pick 5: Evan McPherson - K - Florida (5'11", 185 lbs). Normally, kickers are not drafted, but Cincinnati had extra selections this season. McPherson was one of the best kickers in college football last season. He made all of his extra points and was 17 for 22 on field goals with his longest field goal being 55 yards. Seeing that the Bengals lost so many close games last season justifies Cincinnati picking a placekicker. He will compete in training camp for the starting kicker position.
Round 6, Pick 6: Trey Hill - C - Georgia (6'3 1/2", 319 lbs). Hill suffered a season-ending injury, but will add interior depth to the offensive line at center or at guard.
Round 6, Pick 18: Chris Evans - RB - Michigan (5'11", 212 lbs). Evans will be given a chance to compete for time as the third-down back.
Round 7, Pick 7: Wyatt Hubert - DE - Kansas State (6'3", 258 lbs). Cincinnati is really stacking up at the defensive end position by taking Hubert. Hubert looks to pressure the QB at all times (13 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles). He could see some time on definite passing downs.
Grade: The Bengals desperately needed some help on both lines, and Cincinnati addressed that issue by drafting four defensive linemen and three offensive linemen. Picking Chase was the icing on the cake. I give the Bengals a B+.
All stats are from NFL.com.