The Cincinnati Bengals are set to pick 5th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The draft is a crucial component of the NFL off-season, allowing teams to address various problems they may have on both offense and defense. Numerous analysts project that the Bengals will take offensive tackle Penei Sewell with their first-round pick, but the prospect of a reunion between Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase is intriguing. Should the Bengals use their first-round pick on giving Burrow much-needed protection or a much-needed weapon?
Chase and Burrow were explosive during their time at LSU, leading their team to a National Championship win. The on-field chemistry between Burrow and Chase was unmatched. The combination of their talents had an immense impact on the success of the Tigers’ offense.
Burrow’s accomplishments led him to be selected first overall in last year’s draft and, this year it appears that Chase will not be on the board for long. Chase is recognized as the best receiver in the draft, and for good reason. In 2019, Chase led all Power Five receivers with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. Along with those numbers, Chase showed out at his Pro Day, posting a shocking 4.38 40-yard dash to pair with a 41 inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump. In a matter of weeks, Chase will be in the NFL, and according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Burrow wants to play alongside him once again.
“Word on the street is that Joe Burrow is stumping for Cincy to bring his old Tiger teammate to Ohio,” Breer wrote. “And the Riley Reiff signing gives the Bengals the flexibility to add a playmaker who’s an ideal stylistic fit for their quarterback.”
Along with Burrow’s interest in a reunion, several prominent NFL scouts have praised Chase and his undeniable talent, reiterating the sentiment of him being the best receiver in the draft.
“It is amazing to hear them talk about him. One scout told me ‘generational type player,’ another [said] ‘it just feels good to be in his presence,'” Jane Slater said on NFL Network. “Another said to me the one thing that stands out about him is he opted out of the season. You would expect him to be a diva, but no. He is incredibly humble. He is one of those hard workers that has impressed in interviews.”
The possibility of Chase being available when the Bengals are on the clock has become more likely, despite his popularity. The Dolphins were originally set to pick 3rd overall, leading many analysts to suspect that they would be selecting Chase to add a much-needed receiver to their offense. However, the circumstances have changed. The Dolphins traded their 3rd overall pick to the 49ers for the 12th overall pick. After the initial trade, the Dolphins traded their 12th overall pick to the Eagles for their 6th overall pick. The Bengals will now draft ahead of the Dolphins, which means that Chase will likely still be available for the Bengals, allowing them to draft Chase with their 5th overall pick.
The Bengals’ receiver room lacks depth and drafting Chase would be a solution to their problem. However, many would argue that adding to the receiver position can be done in the later rounds of the draft. Furthermore, the Bengals have offensive line issues that need to be solved right away.
The Bengals poor offensive line resulted in substandard pass-blocking metrics and Burrow’s season-ending knee injury. It is clear that the Bengals need help on the offensive line, and tackle Penei Sewell would be a great addition. In 2019, Sewell was regarded as the best offensive lineman in college football, earning him the Outland Trophy. Along with that acknowledgment, Sewell earned First-Team All-Pac-12 honors and was a unanimous First-Team All-American in 2019. There is no doubt in the mind of any analyst or scout that Sewell is a raw talent who would improve any offensive line, in the NFL.
The Bengals have an opportunity to improve their offensive line in the first round of the draft, and they should take it. After the Bengals invest in their offensive line, they can then move on and create depth at the wide receiver position. It is not a matter of talent, more so the value of the position. From my perspective, the offensive line is more valuable than the wide receiver position, and that is the main reason why the Bengals should pass on Ja’Marr Chase and draft Penie Sewell.
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