The Bengals defied the odds during Joe Burrow‘s second season, reaching Super Bowl 56 after getting through a postseason gauntlet that included road victories against the Titans and Chiefs.
Many of Burrow’s stellar exploits were accomplished in conjunction with star rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase, a former LSU teammate that he immediately rekindled a connection with after a year apart.
The trio of Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd gave Burrow an eclectic and highly effective pass-catching arsenal that was complemented by a career-best 1,205-yard, 13-touchdown campaign from running back Joe Mixon.
Cincinnati’s defense played an integral part in the team’s success as well, allowing 38.4 yards per game fewer during the regular season than it did in 2020.
Looking ahead to 2022, Cincinnati appears set to try and run it back with very little roster turnover, as might be expected.
The one main change among offensive skill players is a straight swap of one veteran tight end for another – out goes C.J. Uzomah, who parlayed his career-best 2021 into a three-year deal with the Jets, and in comes Hayden Hurst, who’ll try to replicate the pass-catching promise he displayed during a 56-reception season with the Falcons in 2020.
Bengals NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 1, Pick 31 (31st Overall): Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
- Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd Overall): Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
- Round 3, Pick 31 (95th Overall): Zachary Carter, DE, Florida
- Round 4, Pick 31 (136th Overall): Cordell Volson, G, North Dakota State
- Round 5, Pick 23 (166th Overall): Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo
- Round 7, Pick 31 (252nd Overall): Jeffrey Gunter, EDGE, Coastal Carolina
Cincinnati was able to take a more developmental-based mentality with this year’s draft after doing an excellent job solidifying its skill positions in recent years.
Given the young offensive talent on the roster and the length the Bengals went to solidify the o-line line in free agency, it’s no surprise that most of the draft was focused on building the defense.
Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt will be centerpieces of the secondary for years to come and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hill starting at safety this season. He’s a versatile defender with the ability to be physical in the box and also play coverage.
Outside of defensive backs, the Bengals also addressed the trenches on both sides of the ball. Zachary Carter and Jeffrey Gunter could be rotational pass-rushers in certain spots, while Cordell Volson adds some depth to the interior offensive line.
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Note: The Bengals NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Bengals NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 1, Pick 31 (31st Overall): Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
Johnson upped his draft stock with a strong 2021 season and brings the size and power the Bengals need on the interior.
- Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd Overall): Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
A solid all-around corner that can help against both the pass and the run, McDuffie could contribute right away while also learning from a vet like Apple.
- Round 3, Pick 31 (95th Overall): Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
A big athletic back with plenty of upside but some weaknesses to still work on, Spiller is a good developmental selection at this spot with Cincy not having an immediate need to fill at the position.
More Possible Bengals Draft Targets: Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa; Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Pre-Draft Bengals Team Needs 2022
1. Offensive Line
The Bengals have paid plenty of attention to an offensive line that was often a liability in pass protection last season, plugging in three new starters via free agency in Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’El Collins.
However, a standout left guard would potentially be the final piece of this offseason overhaul and render Cincinnati’s air attack even more dangerous than it was last season.
The Bengals defense stepped up its play in the postseason, especially in the secondary, but an elite young corner is always a welcome addition in today’s pass-centric NFL.
Veteran Eli Apple was a solid addition last season and re-signed on a one-year deal. Still, an upgrade or at the very least a player that could rotate in for a season before taking on full-time starting duties in 2023 may very well be on Cincy’s wish list.
3. Running Back
The Bengals return Mixon and Samaje Perine as the top two options at the position, but the former carries a near-$13 million cap hit in 2023 and the team carries an option for 2024.
Mixon will be 28 by the start of the latter campaign with potentially five full seasons as a clear-cut lead back under his belt, a point at which the team would possibly want to turn its attention to a younger model with less tread on the tires.
Bengals May Also Consider Drafting: Tight End, Linebacker, Safety