The Cincinnati Bengals have an obligation to protect their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow. They neglected such an obligation in Thursday night’s first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Dan Orlovksy.
Burrow was sacked a staggering 32 times in just the 10 games he played during his rookie season. It was a collapsed pocket that led to the former LSU star’s eventual season-ending knee injury in November of last year. Needless to say, offensive line is Cincinnati’s biggest priority in the 2021 NFL Draft.
When the Bengals came on the clock during Thursday night’s first round, both Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater – the highest-graded offensive linemen in this year’s class – were still available. Instead, Cincinnati selected electric wideout Ja’Marr Chase, reuniting him with Burrow in the process.
Chase has superstar potential, but Burrow’s not going to be able to get him the ball unless his offensive line holds up. Orlovsky thinks the Bengals made a massive mistake by not taking Sewell, the former Oregon left tackle.
I hate hate hate that Cinci passed on Sewell more today than I did last night….
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) April 30, 2021
You could argue the Bengals don’t have as pressing a need at tackle than they do at guard, which might’ve been why they passed on Penei Sewell, who’s more fit to play tackle. But Rashawn Slater’s versatility would’ve fit the bill.
The reality is the Ja’Marr Chase pick felt more like an effort to reunite Joe Burrow with his former superstar receiver than it did filling a pressing need. The good thing is the draft isn’t over.
Cincinnati now has its star receiver. Next, the Bengals have to spend a pick or two on a talented offensive lineman, preferably before day three. Failure to do so could result in another disaster involving Burrow in coming years.
The Bengals will kick off their day two of the 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 38 overall pick. They also have picks No. 69 and 111.