The Cincinnati Bengals stood pat yesterday amidst all the movement near the top of the NFL Draft that saw the San Francisco 49ers jump up to No. 3 and the Philadelphia Eagles drop down to No. 12, while the Miami Dolphins ended up at No. 6 after a day of wheeling and dealing. The Bengals did nothing, which was expected. All of the trades yesterday were primarily about the Niners needing to jump all the way up to get their quarterback of choice, and while the Bengals have a lot of holes to patch on the roster, quarterback certainly is not one of them after Joe Burrow showed a lot of potential in his rookie season before tearing his ACL.
The widely-held view is that the Bengals will invest in their offensive line with the No. 5 overall pick. Burrow had no room to breathe in his first NFL season, getting sacked 32 times in 2020 (10th in the NFL) despite only playing nine and a half games. This year's draft has one premier line prospect by the name of Penei Sewell and Cincinnati has a very good chance of landing him with the way the top of the draft is projected to play out after Friday; the Jaguars and Niners are definitely picking quarterbacks, while the Jets and Falcons appear to be heavily leaning that way. There is a real chance the draft actually starts at No. 5 with the Bengals on the clock and their pick of any non-quarterback prospect they desire.
Sewell would be the smart choice, especially considering Cincinnati didn't really do much to address the offensive line issues in free agency to this point. But you know what would be the fun choice? Selecting Ja'Marr Chase, last seen on a football field catching touchdowns from Burrow in the 2019 National Championship Game. That's the selection Burrow apparently wants his team to make, as reported by Sports Illustrated:
"Word on the street is that Joe Burrow is stumping for Cincy to bring his old Tiger teammate to Ohio. And the Riley Reiff signing gives the Bengals the flexibility to add a playmaker who’s an ideal stylistic fit for their quarterback."
I am not entirely sure I agree the Riley Reiff signing justifies passing on an elite offensive lineman prospect who could hold down the line for a decade if things break right. I am quite certain, however, that bringing Chase aboard the Cincy trade would be the most enjoyable outcome for everybody outside of Cincinnati.
It also makes a certain amount of sense. With A.J. Green joining the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, the Bengals are missing a true No. 1 receiver outside the hash marks. Tyler Boyd is an excellent slot receiver and Tee Higgins had a quality rookie season out of Clemson, but neither brings the same combination of speed and contested catch potential that Chase would walk in the door with. Adding him would give Burrow one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the NFL.
Sure, that might not matter a whole lot if Burrow has two seconds or less to throw. But LSU North in Cincinnati would be fun for everyone. Besides, franchises have made worse decisions than listening to their superstar quarterback.