2021 NFL Draft: Three-round Cincinnati Bengals mock draft.
Following a 2-14 record in Zac Taylor’s head coaching debut, the Cincinnati Bengals finished the 2019 season with the worst record in the NFL, earning the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals moved on from long-term starter Andy Dalton using their first overall selection on LSU’s Heisman quarterback and National Champion, Joe Burrow.
The Bengals added Clemson playmaking receiver Tee Higgins in the second round and then turned their attention to the defensive side of the ball, finishing the draft with three linebackers and an edge rusher. While Cincinnati added to their arsenal of playmakers, the Bengals failed to strengthen their offensive line, a continued weakness heading into the 2020 season.
The Bengals entered the 2020 season with low expectations in a crowded AFC North. With a young coach, rookie quarterback, and division containing AFC contender Baltimore, an improved Pittsburgh team, and Cleveland on the rise, the Bengals were expected to once again enter the 2021 NFL Draft as a projected top-five pick.
After an 0-2 start with losses to the Chargers and Browns, the Bengals recovered, drawing with the Eagles before picking up their first win of the season in Week 4 against the Jaguars. Despite following their first win with a three-game losing streak, the Cincinnati Bengals have been a difficult out all season, with the exception of the 27-3 loss at Baltimore.
After a second back and forth matchup against the Browns, the Bengals held a 34-31 lead against their Ohio rival, thanks in part to a 406 yard, 3 touchdown game from Burrow. The Browns quickly drove the field, taking a final 37-34 lead following a Donovan Peoples-Jones receiving touchdown with 11 seconds left. The Bengals then welcomed the 5-1 Titans, on a course for a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
After yet another strong performance from Burrow, the Cincinnati Bengals held a 24-7 lead against the AFC South-leading Titans, looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the season. After a failed comeback attempt, Cincinnati improved to 2-5-1 entering their bye week. Despite the record, the Bengals are at just a -20 point margin for the year.
Cincinnati has yet to play the Steelers or Ravens but is through the meat of their schedule with remaining games against the Giants, Cowboys, Texans, and Washington. It remains likely the Bengals finish fourth in the AFC North but should see a rise in their win total with a 5-10-1 record within reason.
A strong finish would see the Bengals fall from the first overall pick to a selection somewhere around the 10th spot, giving Cincinnati plenty of options to build around their franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.