The internet is inundated with one 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft after another. While the general consensus is that the Bengals should select Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall, what should the team do if both are off the board and no team puts up a legitimate trade offer?
2021 Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 1.0: Kyle Pitts Edition
Round 1, Pick 5: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida
Florida was rife with NFL-ready talent in 2020 and the one who has stood out since day one has been the 6’5″ tight end, Kyle Pitts. In only eight games in 2020, Pitts recorded 42 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he had played all 12 games and remained consistent, Pitts would have finished with 65 catches, 1,155 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
The Bengals need toys for Joe Burrow. As of the end of 2020, Cincinnati has only three receivers and two tight ends under contract. One of those tight ends will be coming off of an Achilles injury and the other is not nearly the threat Pitts is.
Pitts can line up anywhere on the field, as he showed at Florida. He can be out wide, in the slot, or even in-line. His pass-catching ability is second to none at the position and could even rival some of the top wide receivers in this class. Do you want a dynamic playmaker who can contribute on day one? Kyle Pitts is the man. There may be plenty who see this pick and exclaim “BUT HE’S NOT A LINEMAN,” but there is plenty of talent in this draft and in free agency.
This 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft starts out with a splash. Get Burrow more weapons and he will continue to thrive.
Round 2, Pick 37: Liam Eichenberg, Tackle, Notre Dame
Ideally, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood would have been a phenomenal pick here, but he was snatched up just two picks earlier. Enter college football’s most dominant tackle in 2020, Liam Eichenberg. It’s no secret that the Bengals desperately need offensive line help. Their tackles in 2020 were Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart. Williams suffered a second injury in as many years and Hart is…well…yeah.
Liam Eichenberg is one of the more fundamentally sound players in this years draft. I really like the timing he displays in pass protection with his hands and his feet on the same page. Good vertical drive and catch, & good punch placement help make up for a lot. @ArrowheadLive pic.twitter.com/rsnpYbJdnw
— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 28, 2021
Eichenberg, a three-year starter, would be able to step in and contribute right away. His 6’6″, 305 lbs build helped him dominate elite defensive line talent in the biggest games. Through the entire 2020 season, Eichenberg allowed only one sack. That one sack could have been charged to the quarterback, however, as the tackle was engaged with the defender for a good five seconds.
There is a good chance Eichenburg is not there at pick 37. He has late first/early second-round grades from most draft experts. If he were to fall, I would be surprised if Cincinnati passes on a day-one contributor.
Round 3, Pick 69: Deonte Brown, Guard, Alabama
A surprise, but a welcome one, I’m sure. Where some have Brown as a late first-round prospect, the stars aligned and this 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft has Deonte Brown falling all the way to the third. Even with an active free agency, the Bengals must continue to build that offensive line. Brown is a guy to build around.
Deonte Brown hasn’t allowed a sack across 3 seasons at Alabama (865 snaps)
He’s also the largest human on Earth pic.twitter.com/vrDTRaAPZY
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 11, 2021
There was only one team to manhandle Ohio State in the trenches: Alabama. The Buckeyes had an elite defensive line but they could not get anything going against Brown and company. He is an elite manhandler and mauled defenders all year.
His strengths are in run blocking, as he is aggressive and can move defenders. Due to scheme differences, it may take Brown a little while to get fully acquainted with the Bengals’. But if they want to upgrade and protect Burrow, Brown is the move.
Round 4, Pick 109: Dyami Brown, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
It was obvious the hole left by A.J. Green. He was nowhere near his usual self in 2020 and the offense struggled. Brown can step in and fill that void. At North Carolina, he broke out as a sophomore, logging 1,034 yards and 12 touchdowns. Add in 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns from a shortened 2020, Brown is a sneaky good prospect.
As was the case in last year’s draft, the 2021 receiver class is strong. After missing out on all of the “elite” prospects, snagging a guy like Brown in the fourth would be key. He is great at taking the top off of defenses, an area the Bengals have been lacking for years. Match him up with a team’s third-best corner (because they’ll focus on Boyd and Higgins) and you have a great matchup.
Round 5, Pick 148: Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State
Want a guy who seems to have what it takes but has a chip on his shoulder? Shaka Toney is the fifth pick in this 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft and would be solid depth at a position that needs it. One of the priorities of the off-season is to re-sign Carl Lawson. Get that done, this need is lessened slightly. Don’t re-sign him, and EDGE becomes a dire need.
This was a really impressive play by PSU EDGE Shaka Toney!
Covers the TE all the way down the field and allows no separation. pic.twitter.com/pHPvXqtDAP
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 27, 2021
Toney played regularly all four years at Penn State (after a redshirt year, naturally) and finished his career with 20 sacks. He’s no Carlos Dunlap, but he is still a guy who can make an impact when asked. All of the focus went to the other side in Jayson Oweh or Yetur Gross-Matos, so he knows how to beat one-on-ones.
He’s an explosive edge rusher and could take on the role as a 9-tech pass rusher. Toney is very quick off the ball and can get to the quarterback in a hurry. Once he gets a bit more muscle onto him and gets fully immersed in the defensive system, Toney will develop into a formidable rotation player.
Round 6, Pick 186: Jaret Patterson, Running back, Buffalo
The NFL criminally undervalues running backs. To be fair, it’s not unfounded, considering guys like James Robinson can go undrafted and then burst onto the scene. Enter my favorite non-Ohio State college football player: Jaret Patterson.
As it stands, Joe Mixon has missed 14 games thus far in his career, including 10 in 2020. Giovani Bernard is a popular pick to be a cap casualty. Samaje Perine is good, but he’s set to be a free agent and the Bengals can upgrade at the position, even as a backup.
In three years at Buffalo, Patterson rushed for 3,884 yards and 52 touchdowns. He added 271 yards receiving and a score receiving. In 2020, he only played in six games…but rushed for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns. 19!
If the Bengals are going to replace Bernard’s production, Patterson would be a great fit. He is great at catching the ball out of the backfield, even if Buffalo did not use him like this in 2020. His greatest asset is his ability to create plays and yards where they aren’t. Patterson is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. He’s a sleeper and has the ability to take over if Mixon falters or gets injured again.
Round 7, Pick 229: Lamont Wade, Safety, Penn State
Double-dipping Penn State is this 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft. Lamont Wade was a four-year starter and immediately made an impact. While they may boast the best safety in the game, Jessie Bates, the team is set to lose Shawn Williams. Vonn Bell is still a Bengal, though he struggled in coverage, despite being a hard-hitter.
Lamont Wade in coverage vs Michigan State
🔹 43 coverage snaps
🔹 2 targets
🔹 0 catches allowed pic.twitter.com/YvYveteNVg
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 13, 2020
You don’t typically draft starters in the seventh round, you draft for depth. Williams was a special teams player, as is Wade. Penn State often used him as a gunner on punt team and even used him as an emergency returner only to have him return a punt 100 yards for a score. Alex Erickson is set to be a free agent as well, so…
As a Nittany Lion, Wade actually started off as a corner, so he could also provide depth there. Considering how maligned the secondary was in 2020, this would not hurt in the slightest.
Round 7, Pick 247: Trill Williams, Corner, Syracuse
The final pick in this 2021 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft is courtesy of the Carlos Dunlap-to-Seattle Seahawks trade. As stated before, the secondary was often injured, so Trill Williams will help with depth.
Williams’ style of play could get him into the rotation. He’s a very physical corner who has the speed to fall back on if he gets beat off the line. Williams is also a stout run defender. In a division with the Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt tandem and Lamar Jackson, the Bengals must continue to improve its rush defense.
He played at safety, though he is classified as a corner, so he brings versatility. He finished his Orange career with four interceptions, capped off by a 90-yard pick-six in 2020. You can’t teach speed, so Williams’ ability would be difficult to keep off the field.
Priority One: Get Burrow Weapons and Protection
It may not be the most popular pick within the Bengals’ fandom, but Kyle Pitts in the first round would be a fine addition. Add in two day-one-ready offensive linemen, a playmaking receiver, and a stud back-up running back and Burrow will thrive. There are rumblings that the Bengals will be active in free agency, as they were in 2020. It certainly feels like the beginning of a “New Dey.”