Skip to main content

2021 NFL Draft

Presented by

Analysts Give High Marks To Bengals Draft Class

Bengals first round pick, WR Ja'Marr Chase, takes the stage after being drafted.
Bengals first round pick, WR Ja'Marr Chase, takes the stage after being drafted.

The 2021 NFL Draft is complete with all 259 picks officially in the books.

The Bengals made 10 of those selections, seven of which were offensive and defensive linemen.

A recap of the Bengals picks:

  • WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU (Round 1, Pick 5)
  • OT Jackson Carman, Clemson (Round 2, Pick 46)
  • EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas (Round 3, Pick 69)
  • EDGE Cameron Sample, Tulane (Round 4, Pick 111)
  • DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU (Round 4, Pick 122)
  • OT D'Ante Smith, East Carolina (Round 4, Pick 139)
  • K Evan McPherson, Florida (Round 5, Pick 149)
  • C Trey Hill, Georgia (Round 6, Pick 190)
  • RB Chris Evans, Michigan (Round 6, Pick 202)
  • DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State (Round 7, Pick 235)

Here's a roundup of what NFL draft analysts are saying about the Bengals draft class.

The Ringer: A-

Analysis: The Bengals' decision to go with Chase over Penei Sewell at no. 5 was controversial, and I probably would have taken the foundational offensive tackle instead of this draft's top wide receiver. But that doesn't mean I don't love Chase, who could put up massive numbers after being reunited with his former college quarterback Joe Burrow. And Cincinnati did address its offensive line needs by taking Carman in the second round, Smith in the fourth, and Hill in the sixth. They should give Burrow a little more time to operate than he had during the 2020 season. B+

Analysis: The Bengals had a choice between a dominant left tackle in Penei Sewell and an outstanding receiver in Chase. They chose Chase despite the fact that their young quarterback, Joe Burrow, had his rookie season cut short by an injury suffered in the pocket. They hope selecting Carman will rectify the situation and allow Burrow and Chase to rekindle the connection that led them to a national title. I'll be interested to see if other tackles available at No. 46 turn out to be better players. Ossai's high character and athleticism make him a shrewd pick in the third round.

Getting Sample early in the fourth round should help the pass rush. Shelvin's powerful base makes him a nice run-stuffer in the fourth round -- something the Bengals really needed, as well. I'm a Smith fan because of his length and consistent effort. McPherson was bound to be a fifth-round pick, and the team needed to upgrade that position, but selecting a kicker comes with its share of risk. Hill is a thick-bodied center who could take a veteran's job if they don't perform up to expectations. Evans was suspended for the 2019 season due to an academic issue and didn't see much action in 2020, but he has the skills to be a steal in the sixth round.

The Sporting News: B+

Analysis: The Bengals could afford to choose Chase as a go-to guy for Joe Burrow over protection for Burrow with some options at offensive tackle and landed another in Carman. Ossai, Sample and Hubert add to Trey Hendrickson revamping the edge pass rush and Shelvin gives them a powerful run-stuffing presence inside. They also hope MacPherson will clean up the kicking game and Evans can be a good supplement to Joe Mixon.

Pro Football Network: B+

Analysis: The health of Joe Burrow in the next couple of season will determine how this Cincinnati Bengals' draft class is viewed. The selection of Ja'Marr Chase over Sewell is the only reason the grade coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft is not an A. Chase is a good player but bookending the offensive line with Sewell and Jonah Williams would have been ideal.


Analysis: The Bengals were in a great spot with the No. 5 overall pick, because they have their quarterback of the future, unlike the teams that had the four picks in front of them. Joe Burrow is their guy. Would they go with Burrow's buddy Ja'Marr Chase, an elite receiver? Or maybe Penei Sewell, a tremendous linemen who could be the team's left tackle for the next 10 years? They also could have traded down to pick up more premium picks for a team trying to get one of the leftover top quarterbacks.

In the end, they went with Chase, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner who makes this offense must-see TV. He had 1,780 receiving yards and caught 20 touchdown passes from Burrow in 2019 before opting out of last season. Burrow now has Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon as good -- and young -- playmakers around him, though the Bengals still need to upgrade at tight end. This is a group that can grow together and should terrify defensive coordinators.

Pro Football Focus: B

Analysis: Day 1: The Bengals bring in former LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase, reuniting him with national championship-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Chase dominated the 2019 season, posting a 91.1 PFF grade to go along with 20 touchdowns, all thrown by Burrow. Cincinnati passes on an offensive lineman to bolster a receiving corps that was lacking a contested-catch monster. They now have one.

Day 2: After reuniting Joe Burrow with Ja'Marr Chase in Round 1, the Bengals attack the offensive line as expected here. It remains to be seen whether Carman plays tackle or guard in Cincinnati, but he raises the talent level of the group regardless of where he lines up. Carman has an impressive combination of size and athleticism and was playing his best football toward the end of the 2020 season.

The Bengals lost Carl Lawson to the New York Jets earlier this offseason in free agency. They've since offset that loss by bringing in Trey Hendrickson in free agency and Ossai here. Ossai is an explosive athlete off the edge whose biggest strength, as listed in the PFF Draft Guide, is his motor. That motor and his athleticism form a winning combination off the edge. He should make an impact early as a rotational pass rusher.

Day 3: Cincinnati got great value with Cameron Sample, who we projected as a third-round pick. He blossomed as a pass-rusher in 2020 with a 90.4 grade in that facet, tying for fifth-best among all FBS edge rushers. He then proceeded to post the highest win rate of any defensive lineman in the one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. Sample is a nimble, versatile and powerful player who should've come off the board on Day 2.

USA Today - B

Analysis: Taking Ja'Marr Chase over Penei Sewell will be debated for years, but if Jackson Carman pans out at either guard or tackle, the argument will die down. Joseph Ossai was absolute robbery in the third round, while Cam Sample and D'Ante Smith were worthy sleeper picks, even if they were a round earlier than expected. Tyler Shelvin is a mountain of a man who could be a two-down starter, and Trey Hill can absolutely be their starting center sooner than later. Chris Evans is a viable replacement for Gio Bernard, and Wyatt Hubert was a solid final pick. Oh, and they had the guts to draft the kicker they needed.

Related Content