The NFL draft is one week away and the Cincinnati Bengals will soon be on the clock. Cincinnati enters the draft weekend with seven total picks, starting with No. 31 in the first round.
After signing three offensive linemen, a tight end and re-signing two defensive players in defensive tackle BJ Hill and cornerback Eli Apple, the Bengals enter the draft in good shape without many holes to fill. Personnel director Duke Tobin will likely get the option of taking the best player available on his draft board if he stays put in the first round.
NFL Draft 2022:NFL Draft 2022: Examining 4 potential options for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1st round
Bengals draft preview:NFL Draft 2022 example: Where the Bengals are picking and identifying positions of need
The question is: Who will that be?
Here’s a three-round mock draft for the Bengals:
First-round (No. 31): Kaiir Elam, cornerback, Florida
Andrew Booth was originally the top option at this spot, but it’s unlikely he’ll be available when the Bengals pick. Cincinnati ranked no. 26 against the pass in the 2021 season and can take a step in the right direction in this area by adding Elam to the secondary. At 6-foot-1-inches and 191 pounds, Elam has the physical makeup necessary to cover wide receivers of any size. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and possesses the speed defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo covets from defensive backs. At the University of Florida, Elam recorded 78 tackles, 20 pass deflections and five interceptions in three seasons. With Elam added to the cornerbacks’ room, the Bengals have more depth and talent. Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple return for the upcoming season and if Elam is not ready to start opposite of Awuzie right away, Cincinnati remains in good shape at an important spot.
Second-round (No. 63): Jaquan Brisker, safety, Penn State
The Bengals can secure a safety for the future in Brisker. With Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates’ futures unknown after the 2022 season, Cincinnati ensures they’ll have one starting caliber safety in-house if Bates and Bell don’t return. The Bengals are hoping to get a long-term deal done with Bates but it remains unknown if an extension will happen before the July 15 franchise tag deadline. If the Bengals and Bates don’t agree on a new deal by then, Bates will play the season on the tag number and will hit the free-agent market following the season. By drafting Brisker in the second round, the Bengals get one of the top safeties in this year’s draft class that is particularly deep at the position. Brisker is 6-foot-1-inches and 199 pounds with big hands. He plays with the physicality head coach Zac Taylor and Anarumo like from their current safety tandem in Bates and Bell. Brisker is praised for athleticism, loose hips and fluid movement necessary at the next level for defensive backs. He’s versatile and can play all over the field and the Bengals will be able to feature him in different roles. At Penn State, Brisker logged 151 tackles, 14 pass deflections and five interceptions.
Third-round (No. 95): David Anenih, EDGE, Houston
Cincinnati goes all defense for the first three rounds and takes Anenih to continue bolstering the defensive line. The versatile 3-4 outside linebacker is an ideal fit in the Bengals’ scheme and was one of the players the team brought in for a pre-draft visit. Anenih climbed draft boards after an impressive showing during his pro day at Houston. Anarumo has often said teams can never have enough pass rushers and cornerbacks and the addition of Anenih gives the Bengals much-needed depth at this position. With Pro Bowl defensive end Trey Hendrickson, team captain Sam Hubbard and Joseph Ossai returning from injury, Anenih gives the Bengals quite the pass-rushing group. A key reason for the Bengals ‘success on defense last season was their ability to get pressure on opponents’ quarterbacks and they’ll try to so again. Anenih is coming off his best season with career highs in tackles (30), sacks (5), pass deflections (2) and forced fumbles (1).