The 49ers trading up for the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft makes it a lock that the first three players selected will be quarterbacks. And the Falcons aren’t ruling out a quarterback at No. 4. And that’s good news for the Bengals.
Having selected quarterback Joe Burrow first overall last year, the Bengals at No. 5 are the highest team in this year’s draft that won’t take a quarterback in the first round. So the Bengals may get the best non-quarterback in this year’s draft.
For a team that needs to build an offense around Burrow, that’s very good news.
Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is an obvious option for the Bengals, who need to improve the protection in front of Burrow. Cincinnati signed 32-year-old veteran offensive tackle Riley Reiff in free agency, but what the Bengals really need is to build a line that can protect Burrow for many years to come. Sewell is an outstanding prospect who could end up being the left tackle protecting Burrow for a decade.
If they don’t go with Sewell, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts looks like the most talented skill position player in this year’s draft. Tight ends don’t often go in the Top 5 of the draft, but Pitts isn’t like most tight ends. He’s basically a playmaking wide receiver who happens to be 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds.
The other option could be LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. In 2019, when Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, Chase was his favorite receiver, catching 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns and winning the Biletnikoff Award as the best wide receiver in college football. Pairing Burrow and Chase again would be an excellent option for the Bengals.
Cincinnati has so many needs that trading down from No. 5 shouldn’t be ruled out, either. But the most likely choice of the Bengals is a big-time offensive teammate for Burrow.