The 2020 NFL Draft is going to be a pivotal juncture in the future of the Cincinnati Bengals. On one hand, the pick could very well have already been made. On the other, the Bengals do have a history of messing up first-round choices. Last year, I wrote a similar article and got the first selection correct.
Honestly, there are four ways Cincinnati can better their future with this year’s draft. Unfortunately for their fans, none of these options involve getting a new owner who is willing to hire a General Manager and some scouts.
2020 Cincinnati Bengals Draft: Options For 1st Overall Pick
For about 99% of Bengals faithful, the pick is already in. Burrow is a sure-fire, home run pick. With 60 touchdown passes, 5,671 passing yards, and a ludicrous 76.3 completion percentage, Burrow turned in the most prolific college football season in history. Even though you don’t get to be 2-14 without having holes everywhere, Burrow is good enough to overcome the Bengals’ issues. Did you see him in both of LSU’s College Football Playoff Games? Unreal.
Burrow brings a skill set that would benefit the Bengals in a way that Andy Dalton could not. His ability to manipulate the pocket and keep his eyes downfield to keep plays alive. This alone will be enough to turn the Bengals around because I’d like to see defenses keep up with the likes of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert (if he returns), John Ross, and Auden Tate in a scramble drill. If the Bengals lose Green, they may look to reunite Burrow with one of his favorite targets in Justin Jefferson. Order your Burrow jerseys now, Bengals fans. You could have a franchise quarterback on your hands very, very soon.
Okay, let’s focus on the positives. Tagovailoa has proven with his play over the last two-plus years that he has the ability to take over games and lead his team to victory. This season was cut short due to injury, but his sophomore campaign kicked off #TankForTua. Even if the Bengals and Miami Dolphins seem desperate, you have to be good to warrant this. The south-paw is a very fluid thrower of the ball and can take off if necessary.
However, Tua will not be taking off as frequently as he did in Tuscaloosa. The poor kid could be considered injury-prone after his junior year was cut short by a freak hip injury. This injury bears a start resemblance to the injury that ended Bo Jackson‘s career. Thankfully, our advances in medical technology caught it in time to avoid the same issues. He won’t be participating in the Alabama Pro Day, nor will he be at the NFL Combine, so teams will have to rely on film. It has been reported recently that Tagovailoa should be healthy enough to throw for teams in April before the draft. Will this be enough for the Bengals to balk on Burrow?
Another option is Justin Herbert from Oregon. I don’t think there is much of a chance here, but the Bengals are at the Senior Bowl with Herbert, so they will get a closer look at the once-touted signal-caller.
Many, many older fans of the franchise cry on social media for the Cincinnati Bengals draft brass to target offensive linemen. There are two tackles who will hear their names called early in the draft and one of them is considered to be the top tackle prospect. Andrew Thomas was a force in the SEC this past year. The 6’5″, 320 lbs offensive tackle would be able to step into either tackle role and provide immediate relief. The offensive line is bad, but adding Thomas with last year’s first-round pick Jonah Williams would be a breath of fresh air.
There are many pros to Thomas’ play. In a wannabe run-first offense, like the Bengals try to run with Joe Mixon, you have to have a solid front. Thomas is powerful and his strength comes from his physicality. Honestly, if you can push around SEC defensive linemen, you are NFL-ready.
The next target is a three-year starter, Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs was Kirk Ferentz‘s first-ever true freshman to start at tackle. Mighty impressive considering the offensive line talent to come out of Iowa City in Ferentz’s 21-year tenure.
This season, Wirfs allowed all of two sacks, two quarterback hits, and three hurries. In a conference with defensive line talent like the Big Ten, that’s pretty good. In all honesty, of all of these options, Wirfs is the least likely. That’s not to say that he isn’t worth a number one pick, it’s just that Thomas is considered the best tackle in this draft and the Bengals have bigger issues. Wirfs will not drop out of the top ten, so don’t fret.
The first defensive player to garner legitimate Heisman hype in a decade, Chase Young is regarded as the top NFL prospect in this draft. Considering there is plenty of overlap between the Ohio State and Bengals fandom, many want Cincinnati to pair Young with Sam Hubbard. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Bednarik, and Hendricks awards winner is going to be a top-two pick in this draft. Will it be one in Cincinnati, or two to Washington?
Young dominated just about every snap. In his 12 games, he tallied 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. These stats are good and all, but it’s even better when you realize he didn’t play for the majority of the second half in about six games. Statistically, he did not show in the Buckeyes’ final three games. Although, when you watch the film, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Clemson all game-planned for Young. This resulted in double and triple-teaming, as well as not-so-subtle, missed holding calls (SEE: the play that Shaun Wade was ejected). Even though it would be a lot of fun to see Young in stripes, I am not convinced that the Cincinnati Bengals draft board has him at the top.
If Burrow were not such a sure-fire pick, there could be plenty of hype surrounding the Cincinnati Bengals draft brass electing to trade out of the number one pick. On one hand, Burrow is a franchise quarterback. On the other, the Bengals have so many issues. Think back to the 1999 NFL Draft. The New Orleans Saints and then-coach Mike Ditka traded every single one of their draft picks to Washington so that they could draft Ricky Williams. In order for any team to make this trade, they would have to be desperate. This is only plausible due to the fact that the Bengals have many holes and only seven picks. However, if the Bengals want to trade back and not draft Burrow, they would need at least this haul plus some future picks.
No Dey But To-Dey
Zac Taylor will be heading into his second year as the man. Since the Cincinnati Bengals draft team lacks a GM and more than one scout, one would hope that Taylor would get a legitimate say in their picks. Fortunately for Bengals fans, Taylor and the coaching staff are at the Senior Bowl, so they will have a better look at all kinds of prospects. The first pick is crucial to the success of the franchise. The Bengals seem to be “Burrow or bust,” considering the current odds are -1150 which means they are 98% likely to pick him, but they do have options.
Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a full seven-round mock for the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals draft.
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