Coming off their runner-up finish last season, the Cincinnati Bengals were heading into one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. But as they head into the 2022 NFL Draft, this mock draft addresses a few needs that they need to patch up.

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Offensive line was a hot topic for this team to address this offseason, and while free agency saw them bring in a few options, they still need to get far younger at that position. By keeping Joe Burrow healthy and upright, this team can thrive offensively and keep the likes of J’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon all involved.

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Bengals 2022 NFL Mock Draft

Round 1 (#31 Overall) – Zion Johnson (IOL, Boston College)

As previously mentioned, making sure that the offensive line is addressed should be this team’s paramount focus come April 28th. But sitting at the end of the first round makes it tough for them to get one of the premier talents, making BC’s Zion Johnson a great option.

Positional flexibility defines what Johnson brings to the NFL, as his abilities to thrive at guard or tackle makes him a valuable target for the Bengals. If the Bengals don’t decide to use their first-round selection on an OL, then the 2022 NFL Draft will end up taking a very interesting turn for this team, especially with how strong this team is elsewhere.

Round 2 (#63) – DeMarvin Leal (ED, Texas A&M)

As the Bengals run a 4-3 scheme on defense, finding a 3-tech lineman like Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal is a natural fit, especially with how important his athleticism is to his game. Leal faced tough SEC OLs on a weekly basis, setting himself to succeed at the next level.

In this mock draft, the Bengals are targeting linemen on both sides of the ball, helping reset the trenches and establish building blocks for this team to remain strong at. Leal is one of the best DL prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, so sending him to an already-strong defense is a great move for Cincinnati.

Round 3 (#95) – Marcus Jones (CB, Houston)

With safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III entrenched in the backend for the Bengals, their cornerback depth could use an infusion of talent, which is exactly what Houston’s Marcus Jones brings to the table. While the size of a slot corner may lower him on some boards, his physicality in pass coverage and explosiveness in the return game are great elements that he provides.

Jones would slot in as this team’s slot CB option, taking some pressure off of Eli Apple and Chidobe Awuzie, while also freeing up their safeties. If the Bengals draft class were to include Jones in it in some fashion, fans would be excited – and rightfully so.

Round 4 (#136) – Jelani Woods (TE, Virginia)

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Hayden Hurst was brought in to be C.J. Uzomah’s replacement, as the former Bengal went to the New York Jets. Virginia’s Jelani Woods and his 6’7 frame would be a huge asset to this passing attack, and his physicality would help provide a solid blocking option for the rushing attack.

While not necessarily needing to use a high selection on a pass-catching option, the Bengals will likely leave the 2022 NFL Draft with at least one offensive skill player, and with a natural gap left by Uzomah, catching Woods on his rise through the draft would be a great grab.

Round 5 (#174) – Chris Paul (OL, Tulsa)

Before you ask – yes, that is his name and no, this is not the NBA. Tulsa’s Chris Paul is a developmental OL option that the Bengals should take on as a potential swing option, even though he likely is best suited to move inside when entering the NFL. In this mock draft, the Bengals decide to focus on upgrading the interior of their OL, seen with the selections of Johnson and Paul.

With Paul, the Bengals are getting a moldable prospect that may take a season or two to reach a trustable level. While using a fifth-round selection on a 24-year-old prospect that might not be ready for a large role until age 26, Paul is a solid backup option that can swing inside or outside in a pinch.

Round 6 (#209) – JT Woods (S, Baylor)

Play readability and makeup speed are two bonafide reasons to be excited about Baylor’s JT Woods in the 2022 NFL Draft. While adding a safety to the mix is not a huge deal of importance for the Bengals, having another option to run out in pass defense sets is an underrated element for their defense.

Woods comes out of the same defensive backfield that includes fringe first-round selection, Jalen Pitre, and while not in the same realm defensively as Pitre, Woods processes plays well and could be seen as a starter-in-waiting for the Bengals in a year or two.

Round 7 (#226) – Tyquan Thornton (WR, Baylor)

A second player out of Baylor in this mock draft class for the Bengals, WR Tyquan Thornton is a speed demon on the gridiron, an element that could be very useful in taking the top off the defense for Burow.

While limited run didn’t produce a bonafide role until his senior year, Thornton would help provide another option for defenses to cover when facing the Bengals, opening up underneath opportunities for Chase, Higgins, and company.

Round 7 (#252) – Erik Swenson (T – Oklahoma)

As their final selection in the Bengals mock draft comes on the clock, they decide to hit the offensive line one more time for good measure, this time addressing it with a selection at tackle. Oklahoma’s Erik Swenson is no home-run selection by any means, but he fills the role of the backup option at tackle and one that may simply be a camp body.

In total, the Bengals enter into the 2022 NFL Draft with eight selections – one every round and two total picks in the seventh round. Improving their offensive line was a big focus of this mock draft for the Bengals, and being able to address other areas on the defensive side of the ball ultimately will help keep this team just as good, if not better, as last season.