It’s been a long time since the Bengals had a draft selection at the end of the first round.
But after winning the AFC and losing to the Rams in Super Bowl LVI, Cincinnati has the No. 31 overall pick on Thursday night.
It’s a stark contrast from even last year, when the Bengals chose receiver Ja'Marr Chase at No. 5 overall in the first round. In 2020, Cincinnati brought in quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. The club drafted Jonah Williams at No. 11 overall in 2019, head coach Zac Taylor’s first season with Cincinnati.
So as the Bengals head into Taylor’s fourth draft, things are going to be different, as there are several more variables that come into play before Cincinnati comes on the clock. But in his pre-draft press conference on Monday, Taylor related it to one of his previous draft experiences.
“I’d say it’s probably a bigger range than five [players], to be honest with you,” Taylor said, via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Yeah, you can pick a guy that you think’s going later in the second round and have a great shot of getting him at 31. But it’s probably a bigger pool than five, I would say.
“But we were in this situation a few years ago with Tee Higgins at 33. It was just two picks off. We had the first pick with Joe Burrow. That one was an easy one to talk about. There was no indecision there. And then 33, you’re playing the same game we’re playing now at 31, of trying to predict and do our own exercises to see who could be there at 33. It’s going to be a decent range of players, I would imagine.”
The Bengals brought in veterans in free agency to help solve their biggest area of need, offensive line. Guard Alex Cappa, center Ted Karras, and tackle La'el Collins should all improve that unit. But cornerback could be another target area for Cincinnati at No. 31.