The Cincinnati Bengals have proven that a team can use the NFL Draft to reach the highest peak of the sport, but could this 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft ensure that they reach consecutive Super Bowls for the first time in franchise history?
Cincinnati Bengals 7-Round NFL Mock Draft
For the purposes of this Bengals 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we’ve allowed PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator with trades (equipped with the latest NFL Draft order) to work its magic on the selections. They’re based on the projected needs for the Bengals in the 2022 NFL Draft, where they currently have eight picks. Let’s break down whether this haul helps Cincinnati return to the Super Bowl next February.
Round 1, Pick 31: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
Almost a year after the Bengals were trash-talked all over the internet for taking Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell, they’re competing in Super Bowl 56. Chase has been simply outstanding, breaking new ground for rookie wide receivers. He’s been so impressive that Cincinnati legend Chad Ochocinco described him as the best pass catcher to don the stripes.
While that pick worked out pretty well for the Bengals, there is no avoiding the elephant in the room that is their offensive line woes. Although Joe Burrow has been sensational in his return from injury, he can’t survive the level of pressure he’s been subjected to this season. They’ve given up the third-highest number of sacks this season (55). However, the Bengals have actually allowed the second-highest sack percentage (9%) in the NFL.
Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson is hot property right now after an impressive Senior Bowl performance. However, for those who keep a keen eye on college football, Johnson has been one of the most impressive linemen in the nation this season. A strong, athletic people-mover, Johnson showed improvement in pass protection in limited exposure at left tackle this year. Truly versatile, he can play across the offensive line.
Round 2, Pick 63: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
With Quinton Spain set to be a free agent, the selection of Johnson with the first-round pick of this Bengals 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft covers the left guard spot in a reworking of the Cincinnati offensive line. How else could they improve this spring? Riley Reiff was a stop-gap solution at right tackle. But he isn’t the long-term answer.
Washington State’s Abraham Lucas might be the most obvious answer to the Bengals’ RT problem. Unlike some other options at tackle, Lucas is a natural right tackle. As a result, there’ll be no need to weather a storm with a player transitioning from left to right. One of the most experienced pass protectors in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Washington State product is an impressive athlete with excellent size and length at the position.
Round 3, Pick 95: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee
The free-agency acquisitions of Trey Hendrickson and D.J. Reader in the last two seasons have improved Cincy’s defensive line. One of the worst teams in the NFL at applying pressure to the quarterback just a year ago, they featured in the top half of the league for both sacks and pressures following the 2021 NFL season.
That said, with B.J. Hill hitting the free-agent market, they could look to add a natural 3-technique this offseason. In this Bengals 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the answer comes in the form of Tennessee’s Matthew Butler. An under-the-radar prospect, Butler blew up the Shrine Bowl with his insanely explosive antics. He has the size and technical ability to be a game-wrecking threat at the next level.
Round 4, Pick 135: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves, and Tre Flowers are all free agents at the end of the year. Cincinnati is yet to see a return on investment from Trae Waynes. As a result, cornerback projects to be a potentially key need for the Bengals as they retool for another run at the Super Bowl.
With 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups, Alontae Taylor is coming off his most productive season to date. The Tennessee cornerback possesses the size and length to play outside in the NFL, showcasing enough speed to go toe-to-toe downfield in coverage. Furthermore, Taylor plays the game with impressive physicality, not shying away from contact in run support or at the catch point.
Round 5, Pick 174: Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati
While teammates Ahmad Gardner, Desmond Ridder, and Myjai Sanders receive early-round attention, safety Bryan Cook is the epitome of a sleeper in this 2022 NFL Draft class. At 6’1″ and 208 pounds, he’s already built like an NFL safety. As a result, he plays the game with an unerring physicality that allows him to be a force against the run.
Meanwhile, he possesses enough speed combined with football intelligence to be impactful in coverage. It can only be a matter of time until his stock starts to rise, meaning his value with the 174th overall pick in this Bengals 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft is incredible.
Round 6, Pick 208: Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia
With the trio of Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins, it would be unlikely for the Bengals to swoop for a wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, leading tight end C.J. Uzomah could test free agency, leaving Cincinnati with the need for a pass-catching support blanket for Burrow. Virginia tight end Jelani Woods (formerly of Oklahoma St.) has put himself in the national spotlight with an outstanding performance at the Shrine Bowl.
Woods has incredible athleticism for a 6’7″, 260-pound tight end, and combined with savvy route running, he was nigh on uncoverable in Las Vegas. He’s also coming off the back of the most productive season of his career, reeling in 598 yards and 8 scores this year.
Round 7, Pick 225: Connor Heyward, RB/TE, Michigan State
Do-it-all Michigan State playmaker Connor Heyward could prove to be a late-round steal for the Bengals in this 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Use him to pave the way for Joe Mixon. Have him leak out as a pass catcher. Get him involved with the ball in his hands on the goal line. Just use him. Watching him line up against brother Cameron twice a year when the Bengals take on the Pittsburgh Steelers would be grab-your-popcorn entertainment.
Round 7, Pick 250: Brandon Sebastian, CB, Boston College
With the final pick of this 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Bengals double up at the cornerback position. As we alluded to earlier, there is a lot of potential departures, and you can never have too many good cornerbacks. Which is exactly what Brandon Sebastian is.
During his Eagles career, he’s been extremely productive, tallying 29 pass deflections with 8 interceptions. Additionally, he’s an impressive run defender whose physicality has seen him align as a strong safety in both high school and college.