Cincinnati Bengals reportedly ‘locked in’ on target for No. 5 pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; General view of Cincinnati Bengals logo at midfield of an NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals wasted little time locking in on Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. While things will be a bit more out of their control this season, holding the 5th pick, the Bengals might already know who they want when Roger Goodell puts them on the clock.

NFL teams are counting down the days until the 2021 NFL Draft. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted this past college football season, with many top players sitting out, and led to the cancellation of the NFL Scouting Combine. Despite it all, scouts and general managers are excited about a draft class rich with talent at premium positions.

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Quarterbacks will once again be the story. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are almost certain to be the first two players drafted. After that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a quarterback-needy team traded with the Miami Dolphins to snag Justin Fields.

If that happens, the board will work out perfectly for the Bengals. While the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft isn’t until April 29, the Bengals might already have their card filled out.

NFL Draft rumors: Cincinnati Bengals eyeing Penei Sewell with No. 5 overall selection?

According to NFL Draft insider Matt Miller, the Bengals have been locked in on Sewell as their top target since December. The franchise recognizes the need to protect Burrow and views Oregon’s left tackle as the future pillar on its offensive line.

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Cincinnati might have even known it wanted Sewell before December. The 6-foot-6 lineman opted out of the 2020 season, dedicating his fall to preparing for the NFL. After dominating his competition in the Pac-12 Conference, finishing as the highest-graded offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus (95.8) in 2019, there was little for Sewell to prove in 2020.

The Bengals learned their lesson this past season. After drafting Burrow with the No. 1 pick, Cincinnati didn’t draft an offensive lineman until the sixth round. Instead, the organization hoped its collection of journeymen, free-agent fliers and the return of 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams would get the job done.

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Burrow suffered a gruesome knee injury in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team, with a rush of defensive linemen tearing through Cincinnati and getting to the rookie quarterback. The 24-year-old was diagnosed with a torn ACL and LCL, facing a long road to a full recovery.

If Sewell is on the board, the Bengals won’t waste a second before drafting him. Cincinnati’s offensive line ranked 27th in PFF‘s pass-blocking efficiency this past season and the front office is ready to correct the issue.

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Don’t expect Sewell to be the only addition this offseason. The organization is flush with cap space and can use that money to sign one of the top interior linemen available in free agency. If that happens and Burrow is healthy, the Cincinnati Bengals could surprise a lot of people in 2021.