2021 NFL Draft: Three-round Cincinnati Bengals mock draft

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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2021 NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 NFL Draft: Alex Leatherwood #70 of the Alabama Crimson Tide blocks during the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines at Camping World Stadium on January 1, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. Alabama defeated Michigan 35-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Offensive Lineman. Alabama. Alex Leatherwood. 1. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 829

The Cincinnati Bengals number one priority entering both the offseason and 2021 NFL Draft should be focused on protecting Joe Burrow. Burrow is the primary piece responsible for the Bengals improvement, throwing for over 2,200 yards and 11 touchdowns through 8 games.

After drafting Tee Higgins in the second round last year, the Bengals neglected Burrow’s long-term protection and should have plenty of strong options early into the 2021 NFL Draft. Penei Sewell of Oregon will likely be the first offensive lineman off the board and likely out of Cincinnati’s reach, however, the Bengals will have plenty of options available at the tackle or guard spot at 10.

After minimal playtime as a true freshman, highly recruited Alex Leatherwood made the move inside to right guard as a sophomore at Alabama, earning a starting spot. Leatherwood started all 15 games at guard for the Tide, continuously improving throughout the season en route to a National Championship loss against Clemson.

After departures to the Tide offensive line, Leatherwood moved back to left tackle, opposite 2020 first-round pick Jedrick Wills Jr., in one of the best lines in college football. Leatherwood started all 13 games at left tackle, allowing just two sacks for the year against top-level SEC pass rushers, and is again dominating in a prolific Alabama offense.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in need of both offensive tackle and at guard and Leatherwood would provide Taylor options. Best suited as a left tackle, Leatherwood could allow 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams a move to the right or could make the move to the right himself, after playing right guard at Alabama.

Leatherwood is at his best in pass protection which should serve Cincinnati favorably in a high volume, Burrow led passing game. Leatherwood’s flexibility and aggression at the line give the Cincinnati Bengals a much-needed pass blocker in a division full of strong defenses.