Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 2.0: No First-Round OT and a Second-Round Trade

As likely as picking an offensive tackle is for the Bengals at No. 18, nothing is ever a lock, and this mock draft highlights an alternative path.

CINCINNATI – Nothing from the time the season ended until now makes it less likely that the Cincinnati Bengals will draft an offensive tackle at No. 18.

And that includes signing Trent Brown to a one-year $4.8 million contract in free agency to be the starting right tackle in 2024.

The likelihood of the Bengals using their first pick on a tackle feels to be in the 70-80% range.

Cincinnati Bengals 2024 NFL Draft Picks

One thing that could change the direction for Cincinnati would be a run on tackles in the first 17 picks. If you couple that with the impact of second-round target T’Vondre Sweat’s DWI arrest, which could result in Cincinnati lowering the Texas defensive tackle on the team’s big board or removing him completely, there will seem to be an increased chance of the Bengals targeting the other side of the trenches first.

Let’s take a look at what a Cincinnati draft could look like if the top five tackles are taken in the first 17 picks in addition to the team leaning into one of its go-to draft moves of the last several years, which is trading back in the second round.

The Bengals have moved back in the second round to acquire an extra pick in four of the last seven rounds. This mock has them moving back in the second round, but instead of acquiring an extra pick, they use a pick swap to move up 60 spots from the fourth round to the third.

Using the free Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator, I accepted a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move back from No. 49 to No. 57, which included acquiring No. 89 while giving up No. 149.

  • Round 1, Pick 18: Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois
  • Round 2, Pick 57: Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 80: Roger Rosengarten, OT, Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 89: Austin Booker, Edge, Kansas
  • Round 3, Pick 97: Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan
  • Round 4, Pick 115: Theo Johnson, TE, Penn State
  • Round 6, Pick 194: Hunter Nourzad, C, Penn State
  • Round 6, Pick 214: Isaac Guerendo, RB, Louisville
  • Round 7, Pick 224: Ryan Flournoy, WR, SE Missouri State
  • Round 7, Pick 237: Logan Lee, DT, Iowa

Bengals 7-Round 2024 NFL Mock Draft

Round 1, Pick 18: Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois

In the scenario laid out above, with the top five tackles already gone, the focus pivots to the defensive line where there remains a gaping hole following the departure of DJ Reader in free agency.

Newton is a 3-technique in line with Sheldon Rankins and B.J. Hill, not a run-stopper such as Reader. But PFN lead draft analyst Ian Cummings is high on Johnny Newton’s upside in defending the run as well as being a menace as a pass rusher.

Pro Football Focus graded Newton as the 17th-best run defender among interior defensive linemen in the 2024 draft class.

The leap from college to the NFL is immense when it involves players in the trenches, but Newton has a strong base to work with as a run defender. And even if his pass rush skills far outweigh what he does against the run, the Bengals still need longer-term answers at 3-tech with Hill set to be a free agent after this season and Rankins after 2025.

Round 2, Pick 57: Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

In my Mock Draft 1.0, I had Cincinnati drafting Ja’Lynn Polk at 49. The decision to move back eight spots — 10 has been the most ground they’ve given up in this recent run of second-round move-backs — didn’t cost them a chance at Polk.

GET DRAFTING: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

The Bengals aren’t interested in honoring Tee Higgins’ trade request — unless a team makes an offer no sane GM could turn down — but adding depth to the position and planning for Higgins’ eventual departure after 2024 should be top of mind.

Polk can fill the role of Tyler Boyd’s replacement in the slot this year, but he also can line up outside after Higgins departs.

Round 3, Pick 80: Roger Rosengarten, OT, Washington

The concession from trading back in the second round is having to settle for a lesser prospect at a position of need.

The Bengals could have drafted Patrick Paul in the second round before electing to take Polk. Paul was gone by the time Cincinnati went back on the clock for this pick, but Roger Rosengarten is a higher-ranked prospect on Cummings’ board.

Rosengarten started 28 games at right tackle for the Huskies, including January’s College Football Playoff National Championship game against Michigan.

He is No. 62 on Cummings’ big board, while Paul is 102.

“He sometimes gets lost in the mix in a stacked 2024 NFL Draft offensive tackle class, but Washington OT Rosengarten is very much worth your attention as a potential early-round pick,” Cummings writes in Rosengarten’s scouting profile. “Rosengarten is worth the capital, and he could pay it back tenfold.”

Round 3, Pick 89: Austin Booker, Edge, Kansas

Cincinnati director of player personnel Duke Tobin talked at the NFL Scouting Combine about how the trenches will always be important to the team every draft, and how you can never have enough of those guys.

A native of Greenwood, Ind., which is less than a two-hour drive from Cincinnati, Austin Booker transferred to Kansas from Minnesota after the 2022 season and recorded eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 38 pressures, per PFF.

Even though the Bengals have both starting defensive ends back in Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson, along with 2023 No. 1 pick Myles Murphy and 2021 third-rounder Joseph Ossai in a contract year, there are reps available for Booker.

Look for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to use both Hubbard and Ossai as interior pass rushers on third down, which would free up Murphy and Booker for more playing time coming off the left edge.

Round 3, Pick 97: Mike Sainristil, Cornerback, Michigan

The mission to obtain as many former Michigan defensive backs continues.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

Seriously, though, Mike Sainristil is a classic look-ahead pick for the Bengals, who have employed the “draft them before you need them” philosophy in the secondary for more than a decade.

Sainristil would be a nice depth piece in 2024 and the heir apparent to Mike Hilton in the slot in 2025.

Round 4, Pick 115: Theo Johnson, Tight End, Penn State

At some point, the Bengals have to draft a tight end. They haven’t done so since taking Drew Sample in the second round in 2019.

There have been 71 tight ends drafted since then — and a handful more in this mock.

Cincinnati would like to find a tight end with Sample’s blocking ability and Mike Gesicki’s athleticism, but the team isn’t willing to use a premium pick on acquiring such an asset. But Theo Johnson has a high ceiling in both areas and could develop into a starter as early as 2025 with both Gesicki and Tanner Hudson on one-year deals.

Round 6, Pick 194: Hunter Nourzad, Center, Penn State

A 79-pick wait won’t be comfortable, but landing an interior offensive lineman such as Hunter Nourzad will be a solid payoff.

He would have the potential to come in and win the job to be the first interior lineman off the bench while waiting in the wings to possibly supplant Ted Karras as the starter when he becomes a free agent after this season.

Nourzad was PFF’s No. 6-ranked center in run blocking in 2023 among the 2024 NFL Draft class. He has some work to do as a pass blocker, but all sixth-round picks are a work in progress.

Round 6, Pick 214: Isaac Guerendo, Running Back, Louisville

The signing of Zack Moss in free agency lessened the urgency to find a running back to add some explosiveness to the Cincinnati run game, but it’s still a focal point.

CONTINUE READING: Top RBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Not only did Isaac Guerendo average at least 6.0 yards per carry each of his last three seasons — two at Wisconsin and 2023 at Louisville — he averaged 10.8 yards per reception for the Cardinals and has 25 kick returns in his last two seasons.

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons talked about the need for more returners with the new kickoff rule, and Guerendo is a player who could help fill that role if he can beat out Trayveon Williams for the third running back spot behind Chase Brown and Moss.

Round 7, Pick 224: Ryan Flournoy, Wide Receiver, SE Missouri State

Ryan Flournoy flashed at the Senior Bowl, and the 6’1″, 202-pounder would bring the deep-threat element opposite Chase that the Bengals will miss when Higgins leaves.

Round 7, Pick 237: Logan Lee, Defensive Tackle, Iowa

A three-year starter for the Hawkeyes, Logan Lee was PFF’s No. 11-ranked defensive tackle against the run in 2023. He’s undersized at 281, but he’s worth a late pick to see if he can bulk up and eventually make an impact in the middle of the defensive line or develop into a rotation 3-tech who is not a liability against the run.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

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