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Cincinnati Bengals NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021

As the Cincinnati Bengals build around star quarterback Joe Burrow, what grades did their 2021 NFL Draft picks earn?

Cincinnati Bengals NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) is tackled by Clemson Tigers cornerback Derion Kendrick (1) in the first quarter College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals already have their future of the franchise on board in Joe Burrow, but how will they support him through the 2021 NFL Draft? With the fifth overall selection, they can go a number of ways on Day 1. What grades did the Bengals 2021 NFL Draft selections earn?

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Bengals draft picks in 2021

  • 5th Overall Selection (R1-P5): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  • 46th Overall Selection (R2-P14, from New England): Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
  • 69th Overall Selection (R3-P5): Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
  • 111th Overall Selection (R4-P6): Cameron Sample, EDGE, Tulane 
  • 122nd Overall Selection (R4-P17, from Arizona): Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
  • 139th Overall Selection (R4-P34, compensatory pick): D’Ante Smith, OT, ECU 
  • 149th Overall Selection (R5-P5): Evan McPherson, K, Florida
  • 190th Overall Selection (R6-P6): Trey Hill, C, Georgia
  • 202nd Overall Selection (R6-P18): Chris Evans, RB, Michigan 
  • 235th Overall Selection (R7-P7): Wyatt Hubert, EDGE, Kansas State

Who did the Bengals draft on Day 1?

With the fourth overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

Cincinnati Bengals grades for 2021 NFL Draft

The Bengals elected to add to their receiving corps with the selection of the 2019 Biletnikoff winner.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Chase joins college quarterback Joe Burrow in the NFL and hopes to find the same success they enjoyed at LSU. Chase is dominant at the catch point, consistently showing elite concentration and hand strength. He possesses excellent body control and is a strong runner after the catch.

Selecting Penei Sewell, the Oregon offensive tackle, would have provided more value and filled a more significant need. However, I can’t deny the excitement that Chase brings. How the Bengals address the OL in the rest of this draft will determine how good this pick is.

Grade: B+

Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

The Bengals knew they needed to upgrade the offensive line and invest in Joe Burrow. They chose not to take Penei Sewell in the first round, and instead take Jackson Carman in the early second round. There were superior tackles on the board, but Carman possesses some position versatility.

Grade: C-

Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

The Bengals are looking to re-tool both sides of the trenches. Joseph Ossai is an explosive edge defender with the ability to rush the pass and set the edge. He’s still raw and it’s early in his development as a pass rusher, but the upside is impressive. He’ll see playing time very early in his career.

Grade: B+

Cameron Sample, EDGE, Tulane

The Bengals continue to address their defensive front with a productive and strong pass rusher. Sample will compete for rational minutes as a rookie.

Grade: B-

Tyler Shelvin, IDL, LSU

One of the most impressive run defenders in the draft. The Bengals addressed their defensive interior with a massive man in Tyler Shelvin. He doesn’t provide much pass-rush upside, but he has the skillset to become a Snacks Harrison level player.

Grade: A

D’Ante Smith, OT, ECU

The Bengals didn’t do a great job addressing the OL yesterday, but they make amends with a great value on Day 3. D’Ante Smith has the skill set and physical tools to be a quality starting tackle in the NFL. This is a great selection for Cincy.

Grade: A+

Evan McPherson, K, Florida

The Bengals chose to ensure they got their starting kicker in Evan McPherson. Selecting a kicker is never great value, but if you believe he’s the answer it’s a warranted selection. 

Grade: D

Trey Hill, C, Georgia

Cincinnati is continuing to invest in the offensive line, adding a powerful SEC-tested center in Trey Hill. Hill may not play his rookie season, but he will provide quality depth and a potential starter in the future.

Grade: B

Chris Evans, RB, Michigan

Chris Evans wasn’t super productive in his collegiate career, but his play is better than the box score would indicate. He’s effective between the tackles and is a quality third-down option. Evans will likely fill the void left by Giovani Bernard.

Grade: C+

Wyatt Hubert, EDGE, Kansas State

The Bengals select another edge rusher here, continuing the revamp of the defensive line. Wyatt Hubert is a long-term productive starter in the Big 10 and should be a rotational piece in Cincinnati.

Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals Overall Grade: B+

The Bengals reached early in the second round but added good players at positions of need throughout the draft. Had they taken Penei Sewell at five and the best available receiver in the second, this grade would have easily been an “A.” Regardless, this is still a strong class.

Team needs for Cincinnati coming into the NFL Draft

Outside of Burrow, the Bengals’ offense leaves much to be desired.

Offensive Tackle

The offensive line is the reason Joe Burrow’s electric rookie season was cut short. If the team cares about its long-term success with Burrow it must invest premium capital in the trenches.

Offensive Guard

For the same reasoning as tackle, the Bengals must focus on protecting Burrow. His health is directly correlated to the success of the team.

Tight End

Drew Sample isn’t a bad play, but he’s not much of a difference-maker. There’s a number of talented tight-ends who could be Day 1 starters for the Bengals.

Wide Receiver

Adding a third, young and talented, wide receiver to the Bengals receiving corps could be dangerous to opposing AFC teams. Giving Joe Burrow a slew of offensive playmakers to work with could give the Bengals one of the sneakiest offenses in the NFL.

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