There was a clear plan of attack for the Cincinnati Bengals when the 2022 NFL Draft began, and it involved improving the defense at all costs.
Cincinnati doesn’t normally ignore offensive positions early in the Draft. They went defense for the first three picks this year. They also don’t normally trade up before the fourth round. How about a trade up in the second to get a cornerback?
Cam Taylor-Britt and Zachary Carter are the newest Bengals, and their selections have made an impact on the current roster. Let’s see who came out as winners and losers from both picks.
Lou Anarumo: It’s been over 20 years since the Bengals dedicated their first three draft picks to the defensive side of the ball. Anarumo hasn’t been accustomed to receiving such an influx of young talent, but these last three rounds have been for him. He’s now got a versatile safety, a promising cornerback, and a pass-rushing defensive tackle to work with, and his unit looks pretty solidified from top to bottom.
BJ Hill: It might seem weird to list the starter as a winner when his backup was just selected, but the reality with Hill is he can’t play every single snap. A healthy rotation is needed at 3-technique, and the selection of Carter should help kickstart that. Hill will still play the majority of meaningful snaps during the duration of his three-year contract, but Carter gives him a chance to rest when he needs it.
Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample: The two tight ends most likely to be picked by the Bengals on Friday, Trey McBride and Greg Dulcich, were chosen by other clubs. Cincinnati will enter Day 3 without a rookie tight end added to the equation, which all but confirms Hurst will be uncontested for snaps and targets during the 2022 season. He’s got the perfect storm forming for what hopes to be a breakout season.
Sample, being Hurst’s No. 2, is also a beneficiary of this news. A Day 3 rookie won’t eclipse him on the depth chart, and his role figures to not decrease no matter what they do on Saturday.
Eli Apple and Trey Flowers: The Dax Hill selection was already bad news for Flowers, and with the addition of Taylor-Britt, there’s another cornerback that’s going to compete for snaps. Taylor-Britt is already ahead of Flowers due to his second-round draft status; he’s really coming for Apple’s job.
The Bengals traded up for Taylor-Britt, signifying their need for a cornerback to push Apple into being a better player, or to the bench. We won’t know the answer until the end of training camp, but Apple better get ready for a battle.
Frank Pollack: At this point, free agency seemed to be the only gift for Cincinnati’s offensive line coach. Pollack saw his team draft three offensive linemen last year and sign the same number of blockers in free agency six weeks ago. It’s not a huge surprise that there hasn’t been an o-linemen picked, but Pollack will have to deal with uncertainty at the left guard position. We’ll see what he goes with when the pads go on.
Jackson Carman: From an on-the-field perspective only, Carman’s job has not gotten tougher since the start of the Draft. Cincinnati has not been elected to invest in an offensive linemen through the first three rounds of the draft, which indicates they feel good about whom they have to compete for the left guard spot. Carman was seen as the favorite to win that job, but that’s before his alleged off-the-field situation emerged.