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Final 2022 Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft With FIVE Potential Picks Per Round

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Before the 2022 NFL Draft gets underway, if you're a Cincinnati Bengals fan, you may want to dig on this. I've done a couple seven-round mocks already, but with the draft closing in on Thursday, it's time to lock in my final top choices.

But I'm not only going to present you a mere seven-round mock. I'm giving you five potential options PER ROUND. I can't guarantee the board will fall this way, or that all the players in every round will be available when the Bengals go on the clock. Still, hopefully this can serve as a quick but comprehensive guide on how Cincinnati might approach each day, and who is liable to be on the radar based on needs, talent and value.

Enjoy! PS, here's a nice little throwback to drafting Joe Burrow that'll get you in the mood.

[Top 100 NFL Draft Big Board] [NFL Mock 1.0 / Mock 2.0 / Mock 3.0] [First Bengals 7-Round Mock / Bengals 2.0]

Round 1, Pick 31

The pick: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  2. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
  3. Logan Hall, DL, Houston
  4. Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Picking late in the first round, I'm looking for someone who can plug in right away and make a difference. I think it's a taller ask for, say, a full-time starter at cornerback. I do believe Kyler Gordon may be capable of beating out Eli Apple as a rookie. I just think that Arnold Ebiketie was so thoroughly dominant at Penn State that I can't imagine he won't make a splash as a situational pass-rusher in 2022. Sixty-two tackles (18 TFL), and 9.5 sacks in 12 games is a damn good line. He's also a little bulkier than 2021 third-rounder Joseph Ossai, who figures to garner significant snaps on the edge in Year 2.

Houston's Logan Hall is rising lately, yet he had less production than Ebiketie against inferior competition. He's impressive at the point of attack when he slides inside for his size, I'll give him that. Doesn't 31st overall seem a little rich for a potential rotational tweener, though? And I'm not as adamant as some that Cincinnati needs another offensive lineman on Day 1. I will say Kenyon Green would be a nice, versatile piece to add to the equation.

Go ahead and question the positional value of a linebacker. I'd be almost as thrilled with the Ebiketie pick as I would with Nakobe Dean, who's in the conversation with Devin Lloyd as this class' LB1. There aren't any real holes in Dean's game, and to me, he's a no-doubt Week 1 starter no matter where he lands.

Round 2, Pick 63

The pick: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
  2. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
  3. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
  4. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

Because the Bengals' culture has totally changed of late, I feel like they can get a little bolder with some of these picks who are viewed as relative "projects." UTSA's Tariq Woolen ran a 4.26 40 and logged a 42-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine. He's also 6-foot-4. None of those numbers are typos. I'm too intrigued NOT to take a flier on him. Hell, I'd take Woolen in the first round to be honest. If he gets in the right system with excellent NFL coaching, look OUT for this guy.

Absolute WHEELS. I'll wear it if Woolen sucks in the NFL. I don't care. I'd be more than happy to risk the humiliation of a complete whiff on this pick if I'm Duke Tobin and Woolen is just chilling there at 63rd overall. Would even trade up in Round 2 if need be to get him.

I really dig all these potential second-rounders anyway. Trey McBride is fresh off a 90-catch season, so there's obvious appeal in adding him to the passing attack. Kerby Joseph is a ballhawk who'd be a candidate to start at free safety after 2022 if the Bengals can't reach a long-term deal with Jessie Bates. Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal is one of the draft's freakiest athletes and would be an immediate LB2 upgrade next to Logan Wilson. Then, you have Roger McCreary, the Auburn cornerback who'd perhaps be a safer pick than Woolen. I can't help but conclude that McCreary's ceiling is lower by a not-negligible margin.

Round 3, Pick 95

The pick: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA
  2. Luke Fortner, OL, Kentucky
  3. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
  4. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

I'm sure people will fight me for saying the Bengals have a need at linebacker. They do. And while taking the consensus No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs prospect at the position in this draft may seem like a bad idea, it's not. Channing Tindall is an excellent, instinctive player who made plenty of plays for the reigning national champions, with 67 tackles (7.5 for loss) and 5.5 sacks.

You put someone like Tindall next to Logan Wilson, and that's a helluva winning combination in my eyes. Just look at this dude's closing speed and tell me that wouldn't amp you up, particularly since Cincinnati's linebacker corps isn't all to great at defending the run:

That top-100 big board I made a while back (and updated Sunday) didn't include two of these four honorable mentions, and the Bengals are picking at 95th overall. Let me tell you they would've made the 110 cut. Fortner was a fantastic center for Kentucky this past season and has experience at all three interior line positions. Instead of the Bengals overexerting themselves for Tyler Linderbaum or someone else earlier on, Fortner isn't a bad standby choice to wrap Day 2.

Kyle Philips is an underrated prospect, and would've gotten inside my top 100 if he weren't purely relegated to slot duties. Zyon McCollum is another small-school player with freakish physical tools like Woolen and stands at 6-foot-4, but I'd only take him if the Bengals hadn't drafted a corner to this point. Finally, Jeremy Ruckert isn't a bad pick by any means. I wouldn't mind Coastal Carolina's Isaiah Likely too much, either. I just think Cincy is fine at tight end until the later rounds. We might see a better class next year anyway, at least in terms of top-tier talent.

Round 4, Pick 136

The pick: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor

Ranked honorable mentons:

  1. JT Woods, S, Baylor
  2. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
  3. Kellen Diesch, OT, Arizona State
  4. Joshua Ezeudu, OL, North Carolina

A couple Baylor products headline my wish list here. Tyquan Thornton gets the nods because, well, on Day 3 I'm looking for elite traits above most other things, and SHEESH, does he have those in spades. Thornton ran an official 4.28 40 at the Combine. The Bengals don't have a receiver like that in their group. He'd open up the downfield passing game even more for Joe Burrow and Co. Even if Thornton is exclusively a deep threat as a rookie, that's a great niche role for a fourth-round pick to fill. His upside is worth betting on; Thornton's effortless play speed and fluidity in space remind me of a taller Ted Ginn Jr.

The top alternative options here are depth investments in the defensive backfield. Another Baylor Bear, JT Woods, has the skill set to be a long-term replacement for Bates at free safety. Woods had eight interceptions in his final two years at Waco, but needs to work on his ability to defend the run to be a legit NFL starter. If the Bengals went to the local well and drafted Coby Bryant, that wouldn't be the worst move. I feel like Bryant could be one of the true mid-round steals. He got plenty of work opposite Sauce Gardner with the Bearcats, and has the technique and IQ to fit in Lou Anarumo's zone-heavy schemes.

Rounding out the honorables are some offensive linemen. UNC's Joshua Ezeudu could be a surprise starting left guard candidate if he got a shot with the Bengals. Arizona State's Kellen Diesch is a great athlete who could be a high-end player if he can bulk up more. He also acts as insurance for Jonah Williams at left tackle in case the former first-round pick doesn't ultimately live up to his draft billing — or prices himself out of Cincinnati.

Round 5, Pick 174

The pick: Curtis Brooks, DL, Cincinnati 

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
  2. Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
  3. Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford
  4. Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky

Welp, the Bengals do go local with this selection. Curtis Brooks has gone from off the draft radar to squarely on it in recent weeks, and I think Goodberry is mostly to thank for that. It may have something to do with his 90.4 PFF pass rushing grade and nine sacks from the 2021 campaign. PFF didn't list Brooks on their big board until recently, and he's now 160th, for whatever that's worth. Brooks is undersized at 285 lbs for an interior defender, yet he makes up for it with how quick he is. It's also noticeable how well he understands leverage and has a rush plan. His hand counters are exceptional, and it's wild that he can actually generate some decent bend at his size when he stunts around the edge.

Thomas Booker would also be acceptable here, although his down 2021 season is a bit of a red flag. I also really like Charlie Kolar as a red-zone target who'd benefit from all the attention the Bengals' loaded receiving corps would attract. Amare Barno might be a bit of a reach even in Round 5. I just can't get over his 4.36 40 and extreme athleticism. He'd be a great project who help diversify Cincinnati's defense with more exotic pressure packages.

Finally we have Bailey Zappe. His arm strength is nothing special. It's just that he did throw for 5,967 yards and 62 TDs in 2021. Whatever the competition level is, that's wildly impressive. Zappe could definitely be a higher-end backup in the NFL from what I've seen of him.

Round 6, Pick 209

The pick: Cole Turner, TE, Nevada

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Chris Paul, OL, Tulsa
  2. Smoke Monday, S, Auburn
  3. Aaron Hansford, LB, Texas A&M
  4. Leon O’Neal Jr., S, Texas A&M

Ah, here we are. Hayden Hurst's one-year deal and Drew Sample's pending 2023 free agency leave the tight end position in an uncertain state. I kinda feel like Hurst will kill it and wind up as the TE1, or as mentioned before, the Bengals can make this spot a higher priority in next year's draft. To split the difference of all possibilities, Cole Turner is a 6-foot-6 behemoth with a huge catch radius who's had 111 receptions and 19 TDs across the last two seasons. That production should translate, even if he's not of much use as a blocker just yet.

Because the safety spot hasn't been filled to this point, I've got a couple solid prospects in Smoke Monday and Leon O'Neal Jr. listed here. I'm not sure why Monday wasn't getting gassed up more until recently. He's excelled the past two years in the SEC at both safety spots and in the slot. O'Neal is more of a pure coverage specialist who's a liability versus the run, hence why I'm higher on another Texas A&M player in Aaron Hansford, who I'd probably have as the actual pick here if Tindall didn't go earlier.

Lastly for this crew is Tulsa's Chris Paul. He's been a right tackle the past two years but seems like a better fit at guard. Paul has a nasty disposition as a run blocker and plenty of functional strength to get the job done in the NFL. Not a bad developmental 

Round 7, Picks 226 & 252

The picks: Ryan Stonehouse, P, Colorado State / Brad Hawkins, S, Michigan

At long last we have a safety, but I'm not here to talk about how excited I am about someone who may struggle to make the 53-man roster. I'm here for all the hype on Colorado State punter Ryan Stonehouse. This guy is a beast whose longest boot is 81 yards. He'd be an upgrade over free agent Kevin Huber to say the least. On the rare occasion Cincinnati does punt the ball, I'd want someone with Stonehouse's leg cannon at the ready.

Ranked honorable mentions:

  1. Decobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State
  2. Austin Allen, TE, Nebraska
  3. Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech

More of a swing tackle option than a hopeful, eventual starter, Luke Tenuta is still worthy of being drafted. Otherwise, I think he'd be sought after by many teams in the UDFA pool. Nebraska's 6-foot-8 Austin Allen isn't getting a lot of love despite averaging 15.8 yards per catch on 38 receptions for the Cornhuskers this past year.

Not sure what it is with me and small-school cornerback prospects. Decobie Durant is another one. He had 12 interceptions in 37 career games and has the strength and grit to play outside even at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds.

THAT'S IT. LET'S CRUSH THIS DRAFT, WHO DEY NATIONNNNNNNNNN!!

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