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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Targets Bengals Fans Should Watch On 10/3

  • The Draft Network
  • September 30, 2020
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By Brentley Weissman

The Joe Burrow era is well underway, and the early results have been extremely positive. Through three games, Burrow has completed 64.5% of his passes for 821 yards, five touchdowns, and only one interception. These stats would be exceptional for any top quarterback, let alone a rookie who had no in-person offseason program, and no preseason entirely.

The play of Burrow has been simply outstanding. Those who have watched him play this season have seen a quarterback that is exceptionally poised, accurate, makes good decisions. His natural feel for pressure and his uncanny ability to move within the pocket truly sets him apart from other young quarterbacks that have entered the league in recent seasons. 

As it stands, the Bengals are currently 0-2-1, and while the wins haven’t come yet, it is not because of Burrow's play. Burrow has performed well enough to win each of his first three games, but the fact of the matter is that his surrounding cast, both offensively and defensively, leaves a lot to be desired. As Bengals fans plan their Saturday college football viewing schedule, here are five players they should keep their eyes on as potential additions to the roster in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

#13 Texas A&M at #2 Alabama 3:30 p.m. ET

For what feels like the case every offseason, the Bengals are in dire need of help at the cornerback position. The team suffered a major loss when high-priced free agent acquisition Trae Waynes suffered a pectoral injury that will have him sidelined for most of, if not all of the season. Starting corners Darius Phillips and William Jackson have both struggled this season and the depth behind them is uninspiring to say the least. Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is a tremendous prospect and has the size, speed, and cover quickness you look for in a potential lockdown corner. Surtain played well in his season opener against Missouri, recording two tackles and a fumble recovery. A combination of Surtain and a healthy Waynes would be a significant upgrade over the team’s current starters and pairing those two with the safety tandem of Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell would give the Bengals a very strong secondary.

Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee

Missouri at #21 Tennessee 12 p.m. ET

The Bengals have failed miserably at protecting their young franchise quarterback. Their offensive line has been horrendous, giving up 14 sacks in three games, the most in the NFL. Michael Jordan and Xavier Su’a-Filo entered the season as the starting guards and both have played poorly thus far. To make matters worse, Su’a-Filo suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and his replacements have not fared any better. If Burrow has any hope of sustained success, the Bengals must address the interior of this offensive line. Trey Smith is a mammoth of man coming in at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. Smith is dominant as a run blocker and is violent in pass protection. He would drastically improve the Bengals' offensive line and would make both Burrow and running back Joe Mixon's lives a lot easier.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

South Carolina at #3 Florida 12 p.m. ET

Cincinnati entered the 2020 season with a weak tight end group consisting of sixth-year player C.J. Uzomah and second-year player Drew Sample. Making matters worse, Uzomah, who is the better pass-catcher of the two, went down in Week 2 with a season-ending achilles injury. The Bengals need to continue to build around Burrow and upgrading their tight end position would be a great way to do that. Unless you were living under a rock, you must have senn the performance Kyle Pitts had in his season debut versus Ole Miss. Pitts finished the contest with a ridiculous stat line of eight receptions for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Pitts compares favorably to Raiders star tight end Darren Waller, offering outstanding speed, body control, and playmaking ability. Pitts draws a tough matchup this week as he is set to face a Gamecocks defense that has two corners in the top 150 of The Draft Network's Player Rankings: Israel Mukuamu (#70) and CB Jaycee Horn (#117). Bengals fans should pay close attention to this game and see if Pitts can replicate his game one success against quality opposition. 

Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State 

Central Arkansas at North Dakota State 12:30 p.m. ET

As I mentioned previously, the Bengals' offensive line has been horrendous in so far this season. 2019 first-round pick left tackle Jonah Williams has had his struggles in his first season playing after he missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. The lumps for Williams are to be expected, and he has shown improvement week after week, which for a young player is what you are looking to see. The Bengals' right tackle situation, however, is a major concern. Veteran Bobby Hart has been dreadful as the starter and has nearly gotten Burrow killed on multiple occasions. Upgrading this position is of absolute importance if Burrow has any chance of not suffering an injury from the constant hits. Dillon Radunz is one of the best tackle prospects in this year’s draft, and if Bengals fans want to get a glimpse of him, they better tune in Saturday. Due to the pandemic, North Dakota State is only set to play one game this fall, so the pressure is on Radunz and other draft eligible prospects for the Bison (like quarterback Trey Lance) to perform well.

Seth Williams, WR, Auburn

#7 Auburn at #4 Georgia 7:30 p.m. ET

In case you haven’t noticed a theme here, I am fully on board on getting Burrow help any way possible. Cincinnati has a talented group of pass-catchers at the wide receiver position, but with A.J. Green’s age, injury history, and contract situation, it would be wise to continue to add young talent through the draft. One of the more dominant performances from last Saturday’s slate of college football games came from Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams, who flexed on Kentucky with six receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Williams is a physically imposing presence on the outside, and he thrives in contested situations. I'm excited to see how he plays against a very talented Georgia secondary that boasts three players inside of The Draft Network’s top 55: cornerback Tyson Campbell (#13), cornerback Eric Stokes (#46), and safety Richard LeCounte III (#52).

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