There is a lot of speculation mounting in the Queen City about who the Cincinnati Bengals should take with the fifth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft next month.
Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is the logical choice, given the fact that quarterback Joe Burrow was knocked out of the season in week 11 with a severe knee injury.
The Bengals (4-11-1) struggled to protect their quarterback and open lanes for their running backs.
Sewell — a 6-6, 325-pound lineman — could be the next Anthony Munoz and help secure protection for Burrow, last year’s top pick in the draft by the Bengals.
But last week, the Bengals signed Reily Reiff, an offensive lineman, in free agency.
The 6-5, 313-pounder played the last three seasons in Minnesota.
And this week, the team looked at free agent offensive lineman Nick Easton, who was released from New Orleans.
Another name floating around, according to Cincyjungle.com, is wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
The Archbishop Rummell High School (Louisiana) product played with Burrow at Louisiana State University.
He was a big reason the QB won the Heisman Trophy, and he was instrumental in helping LSU capture the National Title.
Chase is a 6-1, 200-pound junior who won the Biletnikoff Award in 2019, the same year he was selected as a unanimous All-American.
In 2019, he hauled in 84 catches for 1,780 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.
But a month before the 2020 campaign, he told the team he was leaving football to focus on a professional career.
The report in Cincyjungle.com states that Burrow is pushing the team to tap Chase as the first pick.
Also, a Sports Illustrated reporter put the wide receiver as the Bengals’ first pick.
Chase could be that “instant impact” wide receiver who could light up the scoreboard.
But, if Burrow is on the ground because of no protection, that pick is mute.
While Burrow recovers from reconstructive knee surgery, there won’t be much time to develop a chemistry in the off-season.
In that aspect, Chase is a good pick because the duo won a National Championship together.
But he has not played in more than a year due to advice from agents who thought he could enter the draft.
While Burrow may be privately pushing for Chase, he’s also made it clear publicly that he’d love a reunion with the LSU gamebreaker.
“I’d love to play with Ja’Marr. We’re still in contact all the time. He’s a great dude and a great player. I’d love to have him on the team,” Burrow said in an interview in January.
At this point, the top brass in Cincinnati has two options:
1) Listen to Burrow if in fact he is insisting the team pick Chase, a wide receiver he’s familiar and comfortable with. Burrow wants to connect with Chase in the end zone.
2) Go with their needs in Sewell, so Burrow will be able to throw touchdowns at all.
Either way, Bengals fans have a right to be optimistic once again this year.
It looks like there could be some drama with the fifth pick.
Surely, they won’t mess up this draft.
Del Duduit covers the Bengals for the Daily Times