Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Dueling Meek Brothers Edition

With the 2021 NFL season half over, it’s been a yearly tradition for the past 5 or so years for Bengals fans to look ahead to the NFL Draft. However, with the win over the Raiders, the Bengals are firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt and fans have more important things to look forward to than the draft.

Next week’s game against Pittsburgh is a huge game and has nearly all of our focus. With that being said, my brother and I decided to take a quick look ahead to the 2022 NFL draft with this four round Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft.

Cincinnati Bengals mock draft

Vance Meek’s Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

Pick 23: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

The Bengals have an issue on the interior of the offensive line. Trey Hopkins rushed back from injury and has struggled at times. Right guard has been a revolving door of inadequate players all season. Linderbaum is a bit small, but has tremendous technique and knows how to use leverage to win. He could be a long-term answer at center for a team that has lacked a great one for quite a while.

Pick 45: Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington

With Riley Reiff clearly a short-term solution, the Bengals can certainly stand to add another tackle. Kirkland has experience outside and inside, but has the physical gifts to enable him to be a starting NFL tackle. He has great length and moves well laterally. He also should be solid as a run blocker with his movement skills.

Pick 89: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee

Arguably, cornerback is the Bengals biggest need going into the 2022 offseason. The top guys were all gone before earlier picks, but Taylor has nice value here. He has good size and physicality for the NFL. Taylor is a solid tackler and isn’t afraid to get involved in the run game. He is still growing as a cornerback, having begun his career as a receiver. His upside is nice.

Pick 119: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

The Drew Sample experiment has failed. Adding another guy who can block, but is also a threat in the passing game is appealing, and the value here is very nice. He has enough speed to be effective at the next level, while also possessing the traits necessary to be a good blocker. He could develop into a solid starting tight end once CJ Uzomah moves on.

Pick 136: Isaac Taylor-Stuart, CB, USC

Another high upside cornerback is the pick here. Taylor-Stuart is a very good athlete with a track background. He still shows some rawness, but he also has a very high ceiling. He could wind up being a steal as a day three selection.

Blake Meek’s Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

Pick 23: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

Center has been one of the biggest weaknesses on the Bengals offensive line. Hopkins, who had a good year in 2020 before the injury, just hasn’t been good this year. Linderbaum has been the best center in all of college football this year and would be an immediate starter for the Bengals. Protecting Joe Burrow is still priority number one and adding Linderbaum would be a big help in that department.

Pick 45: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia

Cornerback is one of the top two or three biggest needs for the Bengals this offseason. Chidobe Awuzie has been fantastic for the Bengals this year, but after that it falls off a bit. Kendrick would be a steal for the Bengals at pick 45. He has legit first round talent, and paired with Awuzie would give the Bengals a feared CB duo. This would allow the Bengals to part ways with Trey Waynes and save around nine million dollars.

Pick 89: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Faalele is a mountain of a man on the right side of the Gophers offensive line. He has elite athleticism for a guy who is pushing 400 pounds. He played rugby in Melbourne, Australia, before coming to the US in 2016 to play his first snap of American football. With Riley Reiff a free agent after this season, right tackle is a position of need for the Bengals. Faalele has the talent to be one of the top right tackles in the league.

Pick 119: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada

Wide receiver isn’t anywhere near the top of the needs list for the Bengals, but Doubs’ talent was too much to pass on here. Doubs is a different kind of receiver than the Bengals currently have. He is a dynamic, big play guy who has the speed to really be an elite deep ball WR. That isn’t all he is though. Doubs also has the talent to separate in the intermediate and short area. Adding Doubs to this receiver room really wouldn’t be fair to opposing defenses.

Pick 136: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State

Tight end may not be a need for the Bengals depending on what happens with C.J. Uzomah in free agency, but Kolar would be a fine replacement if Uzomah decides to sign elsewhere. Kolar is a big bodied tight end who used to play basketball in high school. He is very good in contested catch situations and will be an excellent red zone mismatch.

Check out Around the Block for all of our content and follow Vance Meek @vancemeek and Blake Meek @Bmeek23 on Twitter.

Position Battles to Watch for in Training Camp and Preseason

With NFL training camps ongoing and preseason to be here very shortly, position battles across the NFL are going to start taking center stage. Just like every other team in the NFL, the Bengals have some important position battles that are going to start taking place at training camp and will play out through the preseason. While several position have their starters and reserves all wrapped up, there are several positions battles where the fun is just starting.

Starting Guards

The Bengals have an opening at both the left guard and the right guard position going into the 21/22 season. Last year the interior offensive line was hurt by not only a lack of top end talent, but also by the amount of injuries that hit it. Michael Jordan and Quinton Spain both led the Bengals in starts by guards last year with 10 each, while expected starter Xavier Su’a-Filo only got to start 5 games because of injuries.

All three of those guys will be battling for a starting spot at guard with rookie, second round draft pick Jackson Carman. Most expect Carman to take the right guard position, but with him transitioning from tackle to guard, that by no means is a certainty. In a perfect works Carman takes right guard and Spain, who is a better left guard than right, takes the left guard spot. This allows Su’a-Filo to be the swing guard and be there to play either spot in case of injuries. These two spots likely won’t be decided until preseason is over.

Third Linebacker

Linebacker one and two are tied up for Cincinnati. Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson will be the starting linebackers for the Cincinnati Bengals and outside of injury, there shouldn’t be much doubt in that. After those two, most people believe that Akeem Davis-Gaither will be the next in line and that is certainly possible. However, there is a lot of love in the Bengals organization for second year linebacker Markus Bailey.

Bailey was a seventh round pick in the 2020 draft, but that was really only because of injury. Had he not been injured his final season at Purdue, he likely would have been a mid-round pick. Davis-Gaither is an extremely athletic linebacker, who brings some pass rushing to the table along with the athleticism to go sideline to sideline and play man coverage. Bailey isn’t as athletic as Davis-Gaither, but his football IQ and hot motor make him a desirable player for defensive coordinators. After having two knee injuries, his athleticism likely doesn’t allow him to play man against more athletic tight ends, but he showed in college that he was adept in playing shallow zone. Davis-Gaither has the leg up on Bailey, but don’t count Bailey out as the third linebacker yet.

Punt Returner

Last years punt return man Alex Erickson has signed a contract with the Houston Texans, which opens up a spot for someone to take over an often overlooked, but important position. While he wasn’t flashy, Erickson has been a solid punt return man for the Bengals. He wasn’t really a threat to take one to the house, but he rarely made a mistake. The Bengals have several options to take over the return duties.

Darius Phillips has some professional experience returning punts and has shown a propensity for big plays. Trent Taylor, a new addition to the Bengals has been taking some of the punt return duties in camp. Taylor has a history of being a punt returner in San Francisco and if he can make the roster as a receiver, has a real shot to be the punt returner. Another name we are hearing out of training camp in the punt return battle is UDFA Pooka Williams. Williams, even tho he was a running back at Kansas, has been taking reps at both wide receiver and punt returner. Williams is electric with the ball in his hands, but will likely have to show he can stick at receiver to make the squad. Taylor likely has the upper hand in this battle, but don’t count Phillips or Williams out yet.