Bengals just spent over 100M on free agents in what is probably their best free agency period ever. There are only two questions up in the air at this point. The first is Dre Kirkpatrick, despite earlier rumors of him being released or traded he was not moved and now many insiders have said he will be sticking around. Second is Dalton, they were not able to find a trading partner and it seems the supply of QBs wasn't appreciated going into free agency. Really hard to put blame on the Bengals(I know many will still try) for not finding a trade partner when there really arent any available. The Bears got Nick Foles with the Jags paying over half of his salary for a very late 4th, if they plausibly wanted Foles over Dalton there was nothing else for them to do. Chargers, Bucs, and Patriots all found other answers. Still unlikely he will be on the roster but some are saying they could hang on to him for a year to help Burrow and then get the compensation pick after his contract is up. Now here is the depth chart projection with a basic evaluation.
QB(Good): Joe Burrow, Ryan Finley
RB(Elite):Joe Mixon, Giovanni Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson
WR(Good):AJ Green, Damion Wills, Stanley Morgan
WR(Average if healthy):John Ross, Auden Tate
Slot(Very Good):Tyler Boyd
TE(Below-Average):CJ Uzomah, Drew Sample
LT(Good):Jonah Williams, ?
LG(Below-Average but hope):Michael Jordan, Billy Price
RG(Very Bad):Xavier Sua-Filo(not brought in to start)
RT(Below Average):Bobby Hart, Fred Johnson
Information we know from reports:Team thinks Michael Jordan can take a big step forward, he was very young coming out. They think Drew Sample can take a step forward, he is fantastic athlete and was injured during the season. For this draft it looks like outside receiver, receiving tight end, and guard are the biggest needs. Could also grab a RB, RT, and C if value is there. But really this isnt an offense that far from being good. Now defense
Corner(Good):William Jackson, Darrius Philips
Corner(Good):Trae Waynes, Dre Kirkpatrick
Free Safety(Very good):Jessie Bates
Strong Safety(average):Shawn Williams
LB(Very bad):Jordan Evans
DE 3 man rotation(very good):Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson
NT(Elite):DJ Reader, Josh Tupou
DT(Very Good):Geno Atkins, Andrew Brown
The defense was hit hard by injuries last year and now gains an elite nose tackle and an above average corner. The 3 man corner rotation is now very solid. Projecting Pratt to be above-average they are now just one LB away from being comfortable at every position. Again the defense is not far(and may already be there) from being good. Draft targets would be strong safety, LB, 3tech for youth behind Geno, DE if the value is there. NT, corner, and free safety are really the only positions not needed.
Now that we know the draft needs post free agency we can really lock into a realistic mock draft. I am using the Fanspeak sim with the most recent Matt Miller big board.
2.Grant Delpit S LSU-I think this was a really realistic scenario. Delpit, G/C Cesar Ruiz, OT Austin Jackson, WR Brandon Aiyuk were top available at positions of need. I am going with Delpit and sticking him in at Strong Safety. Delpit didn't test so that is a question but he is a very big(6'3" 215) safety who was fantastic for LSU. He was injured in 2019 and wasn't at the elite level he played at in 2018. He is somebody who will be able to be a big safety and even play nickel LB when needed. He is a great piece for this defense that gives them high talent at every position in the secondary. After this I am really targeting LB in round 3.
3.Malik Harrison LB OSU-This is exactly what I wanted in this scenario. Harrison could plug and play day 1. He is a freak athlete that should be able to cover, with his size he is a big barrier to throw over in zone, and his size allows him to stand his ground in the run. His biggest concern is a very low tackle number and most of his tackles are downfield drag downs. 3DT Neville Gallimore, S Antoine Winfield, G/C Lloyd Cushenberry, TE Adam Trautman were also available. With getting Delpit and Harrison I really want to go offense my next pick.
4.Prince Tega-Wanogho OT Auburn-Able to grab a very intriguing tackle prospect in the fourth. This is a player who will not be able to play his rookie year as he is simply too raw. He is from Nigeria and didn't start playing until late in high school. He is an elite athlete after growing up swimming and playing soccer/basketball. He has short arms and received a medical flag at the senior bowl. With development he could be a very good pass blocker but may only ever be an average run blocker due to a lack of strength. A Joe Burrow offense is going to be throwing a lot so having Prince in a year or two ready to take over at RT could be a great pick up.
5. Tyler Johnson WR Minnesota-Havent talked about him in awhile but would be a good grab in the 5th. May not be a good enough athlete to ever be a main receiving threat on a team but as a back up slot, or fourth receiver on the field(something you will see a lot with Burrow) he is a good option to have. Good route runner, well built at 6'1" 206, and shows good jumping ability, with great college production. He is simply not very fast or explosive. This late in the draft its ok to get somebody who could just be a great back up.
This may be one of my favorite drafts. Delpit and Harrison add a lot of speed to the LB/SS group and would take a big step forward in being able to stop the pass from that group(something they couldnt do last year.) The back 7 would all of a sudden go from being slow to extremely fast. With the improved pass rush from Reader this defense may be close to a top 10 defense. Prince Tega in the fourth is a solid grab that wont be seen for a year or two but could come out as a really good pass blocker at RT that fits with Burrow. Along with a solid 4th option in Tyler Johnson this draft really improves the roster. Going forward the focus can be on getting outside receivers for Burrow and the interior of the offensive line. If it shakes out this way and Pratt/Jonah Williams/Michael Jordan/Drew Sample can meet expectations this team could be pretty close.