In one week, we will know the name of the Bengals selection at 31st overall in this year's NFL Draft. In this second to last mock draft before the Bengals are on the clock this upcoming Thursday, two new names join the list from draft gurus. Here's a look at the latest players draft experts anticipate Cincinnati selecting in the first round.
Tyler Linderbaum – C, Iowa
The Bengals are on a mission to protect their franchise QB this offseason and continue to do so with the best center prospect in this year's class. Linderbaum would start Day 1 and give Joe Burrow a young player to build chemistry with for sorting out defenses. It would also give the Bengals the added benefit of allowing Ted Karras to play where is needed or provide depth for their interior.
I am admittedly taking this pick from the folks at PFF because I love it so much, and it gives me a chance to slot my favorite player in the draft into the first round. Linderbaum is a superb talent who deserves to be mentioned among the best prospects in the draft. He's such a fun watch on tape. The Bengals just signed a center (Ted Karras), but one who could play guard. Linderbaum could be Joe Burrow's eyes up front for the next decade. Duke Tobin, the team's director of personnel, would never have to answer another question about the offensive line again.
If Tyler Linderbaum is still on the board here the Bengals will be ecstatic. He is one of the best offensive linemen, even at center, and he could certainly go much higher than this.
The Bengals offensive line renovation gets a nice cherry on top with Linderbaum in the late stages of the first round.
Because the investments in the offensive line this offseason from Cincinnati have inspired me to make sure we finish the job. Let's put Ted Karras at left guard, Alex Cappa at right guard, La'el Collins at right tackle, keep Jonah Williams at left tackle, and put Linderbaum as the glue in the middle. Mission accomplished, Cincinnati. You've successfully revamped the line.
Andrew Booth – CB, Clemson
Cornerback is a big position of need for Cincinnati. It did well to add some veterans last year to stop the bleeding, but it had to be addressed long-term. Booth has exposure to man and zone coverage schemes but is one of the few with the size and speed capable of becoming that lockdown cornerback in the NFL.
Kaiir Elam – CB, Florida
The Bengals rolled up their sleeves and went to work on improving their offensive line in the offseason. Their CBs played above expectations in 2021, so it's a good idea to add in a fast, physical CB with really good NFL bloodlines (both his father and uncle played in the league).
Kyler Gordon – CB, Washington
It looks like Trent McDuffie, his teammate at Washington, will go earlier, but Gordon might be the better NFL player. With Eli Apple on a one-year deal, they need to get a young corner.
Kenyon Green – G, Texas A&M
The Bengals were inches away from having a shot to win the Super Bowl, but Aaron Donald broke through the interior offensive line to force an incompletion from Joe Burrow on fourth down. Of course, it would be ludicrous to say that inputting Kenyon Green in that moment would have won the Bengals the Super Bowl, but he gives them a better shot. The offensive line is still really the only question for the Bengals. Adding Green gives the Bengals an explosive athlete who is extremely versatile, having played every position on the line besides center. Green can use his lower body strength to explode off of blocks, allowing Joe Mixon to succeed in a zone-running scheme. Green boasted a 93.2 zone-blocking grade as well as an 83.6 pass-blocking grade in 2021.
Daxton Hill – S, Michigan
Cornerback is the more pressing need, but if the Bengals plan on moving on from safety Jessie Bates III after this season, drafting Hill makes a ton of sense. He's versatile enough to play in the slot in 2022 and then transition to free safety in the years to come.
Devin Lloyd – LB, Utah
I originally thought hard about Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum here, but Lloyd's slide out of the top 30 forced my hand. Lloyd impacts the game in so many ways, and he could be the long-term answer in the middle of the Bengals' defense.
Tyler Smith – OT, Tulsa
Smith is only a redshirt sophomore, but he's viewed as having one of the highest upsides of any lineman in this class. In the offseason of "Protect Joe Burrow AT ALL COSTS," Cincinnati keeps the theme going strong.