2021 NFL Draft Grades
1 (5) - Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU - C+
2 (14) - Jackson Carman OL Clemson - D
3 (5) - Joseph Ossai DE Texas - A
4 (6) - Cameron Sample DE Tulane - B+
4 (17) - Tyler Shelvin DT LSU - B
4 (34) - D’Ante Smith OT East Carolina - B
5 (5) - Evan McPherson K Florida - C
6 (6) - Trey Hill C Georgia - B-
6 (18) - Chris Evans RB Michigan - C
7 (7) - Wyatt Hubert DE Kansas City - C
- This draft would have been so much better in my opinion had they taken Penei Sewell with their first pick. Not that Ja’Marr Chase is a bad player by no means am I saying that, but it’s just not the right selection for them here. Their receiving core is not that bad with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Plus, the Bengals should know how much easier it is to find good receiver talent in the 2nd round with guys like Boyd and Higgins being taken there. What’s not easy is finding a great blocker anywhere after the first 20 picks. Chase should be a fine receiver, but it will be tough for him to produce with Joe Burrow on his back throughout most of the games. They followed that pick up with a very bad blocker pick of Jackson Carman taking him in front of better prospects like Dillon Radunz, Samuel Cosmi, and Jalen Mayfield. Carman is not a tackle prospect and he is not even the best guard prospect available here. Overall the first two rounds are pretty poor right now.
- They bounce back a bit taking two great value pass rushers in Joseph Ossai and Cameron Sample. Ossai could have easily been a late first round pick and no one would have batted an eye about it. He is an extremely raw talent having not played a lot of football, but he possesses all the tools needed to be a great pass rusher. He was often used all over the field for Texas so being in the NFL and being able to just concentrate as a pure pass rusher he could certainly only get better. Meanwhile, Sample was seen as a solid 3rd round prospect so landing him in the 4th round is pretty good value. He is another athletic edge rusher who should pair well with Ossai and their free agent pick up of Trey Hendrickson. Their pass rush should certainly be improved now. They also landed one of the better tackle prospects in the class in Tyler Shelvin who has a high floor to be at the very least an elite run stuffer. He certainly does not have the ceiling of Ossai or Sample, but he will find the field quickly with Geno Atkins gone in Cincy.
- They finally address the offensive line a bit better in the later rounds with D’Ante Smith and Trey Hill. Hill could be the biggest steal of the duo as different scout media sites had him as one of the best center prospects in the class. He is a mauler of a center who could blow open holes and anchor the middle of the line. The issue is his snapping and pass blocking could still use a lot of work. He will not start right away with Billy Price still there, but I would not be surprised if he slips again then Hill could get the call to replace him. Smith was a solid mid round pick who has the length and athleticism to turn into a solid swing tackle eventually as a mainstay starter at either tackle spot. Evan McPherson was a bad-ish pick in my opinion. I think kickers can be found after the draft, but I cannot fault a team trying to find a sure thing at one of the more overlooked positions on a football team. If he works out I will certainly turn this grade around, but the value is just not there in my opinion. Evans could take the place of Gio Bernard, but he certainly is not as strong in the passing game as the former veteran. Adding another pass rusher like Hubert never hurts.
- Overall, I hated the start of the draft with them passing on Sewell, but they sort of bounced back later in the draft. If they were smart they would bring Burrow along slowly to allow guys like Carman, Smith, and Hill to develop into full time starters. I see no reason to rush Burrow in behind a shaky still rebuilding offensive line. Chase should be a great receiver for them despite me not loving them taking him over Sewell. In the end I still think they have a few years until they are ready to compete with the Ravens and Browns, but they are getting there.