By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
The much ballyhooed 2021 NFL draft took place this past weekend. Ten players were picked in hopes of making the Bengals a better team starter-wise and with depth. Don’t listen to the experts. Why anyone would give any team an A or an F on the day of the draft, week, or month after the draft is absurd. Nobody will know for at least a year if the draft was a success or failure based on the draftee contributions.
Cincinnati went in clearly looking to get offensive line help. Yes, they chose three offensive linemen. Jackson Carmen (Clemson) went #2. D’ante Smith (East Carolina) went #4. Trey Hill (Georgia) went #6. Of the three chosen, Carmen will be the one most likely to help immediately. The highly touted Fairfield, Ohio product was one of the top rated offensive linemen in the country coming out of high school.
While offensive line was a priority, Cincinnati could not help them in passing on an explosive playmaker. The one thing Cincinnati has held consistently in its history is they have always produced one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Torches have been passed this century. Chad Johnson passed the torch to A.J Green. Green, who held the title for 10 seasons, is now gone. The Bengals selected Jamarr Chase as their top pick. Chase is expected to take over the #1 receiver spot and expected to do huge things in the NFL.
“I’m going to break every record they have,” said an excited Chase. He reunites with his college QB Joe Burrow. He and Burrow were an unstoppable duo at LSU en route to an undefeated season and national title in 2020.
“I asked Joe how happy would you be on a scale of 1 to 10, if we selected Jamarr #1. He said 10,” said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
The Bengal defensive side of the ball was not exactly elite in 2020. Drafting was divided up fairly evenly between offense and defense. The team selected four defensive players. Three of the four were defensive ends selected in hopes of being able to get to the quarterback. Joseph Ossai (Texas), Cameron Sample (Tulane), and Wyatt Hubert (Kansas State) are all defensive ends selected in the draft by the Bengals. The team is sending a clear message they would like to put more pressure on the quarterback this season. Even if one of the three pans out, it would be a victory.
Cincinnati even addressed special teams. Keven Huber has been the Bengals longtime punter. He will now be in competition with another homegrown talent. Drue Chrisman kicked for the LaSalle Lancers and the Ohio State Buckeyes. He will now compete with Huber for the punting duties for the Bengals. Kicker Randy Bullock was shaky at best last season. Cincy addressed the kicking game by selecting Evan McPherson (Florida) with the #5 round pick. McPherson has a reputation as a “super toe” with long field goal potential.
Whether the right players were selected remains to be seen. Give Cincy credit for at least selecting some players they think may make a difference. As the old saying goes. “We’ll see