It’s late April, and football nerds like myself know what that means. There’s an NFL Draft that starts on a Thursday at the end of the month. Unlike a lot of times in recent years, the Cincinnati Bengals won’t be a team who makes its selection in the first 45 minutes of the event.
That’s the biggest downfall of, you know, playing in the Super Bowl, which is something Joe Burrow and Co. plan on doing a bunch of over the next decade plus. But in order to do that, dynasty-like runs start here. At the Draft. Even when your franchise is selecting 31st and not 5th… or 1st.
With that being said, I’ve completed a 3-round mock draft using PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator. PFF grades each selection using a criteria of their own.
Round 1, Pick 31: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
PFF Grade: D-
Ouch. Not an ideal grade to start. The Bengals, at least in my case, were unable to be lucky enough for some of the fan-favorite options to fall. Guys like Tyler Linderbaum, Kaiir Elam and Andrew Booth went off the board just before it was my turn. And that’s okay, Kyler Gordon is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. He earned an 89.6 PFF grade in 2021 and he brings exactly what the Bengals are looking for to the table. He can play any corner position on the field and people are overreacting to his meh 4.52 40 time. Plus, pairing him with a speedy corner like Chidobe Awuzie will likely keep him away from the fastest WR’s on any opponent.
Round 2, Pick 63: Nick Cross, S, Maryland
PFF Grade: B-
Cross is a guy who has plenty of star potential at the next level at a position the Bengals have a lot of uncertainty at heading into 2022. Sure, their safeties are elite, but keeping Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III doesn’t seem realistic when guys like Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins are going to be looking to cash in very soon. The 212 pound safety who ran a blazing 4.34 fits nicely into what Lou Anarumo wants to do and gives flexibility. Who knows, he may be the next Jessie Bates a year from now.
Round 3, Pick 95: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee
PFF Grade: F
I don’t think PFF thinks Butler is an F grade player, but I do think pick 95 may be a tad early. The interior DL prospects were flying off the board at this point. Either way, Butler would help fill in some of the snaps lost by Larry Ogunjobi. Not only that, but he had the tendency to become a complete game-wrecker at Tennessee. He can come to an organization where he isn’t forced to play a ton of snaps right away and sit behind a formidable duo in DJ Reader and BJ Hill. The depth of the Bengals interior DL was a major reason they were able to make their Super Bowl run. And they know their identity.
Clearly, it’s my prediction that the Bengals go heavy defense early. After three straight seasons of using all early picks on offense, they finally flip the script and go defense early and often. They know the financial situation of guys on offense won’t be all that team friendly for long, so they begin to prepare for it now.