Cincinnati Bengals Rookie Forecast 2024

Kris Jenkins - Bengals - Rookie Forecast Featured Image

Solid Starter

Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia – Round 1

The Bengals know that in order to get back to the Super Bowl and even make it to the playoffs they need to keep quarterback Joe Burrow on the field. After acquiring veteran Trent Brown in free agency, they added the long-term starter at right tackle with the selection of Mims in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Mims has an incredible skill set and he could easily be a boom pick for the Bengals.

In pass protection, Mims has shocking quickness for such a big blocker and shows impressive agility to mirror speed rushers coming around the edge. He should be an asset to take on the fast edge rushers because he is quick out of stance, reacts immediately to cut off the corner, and ties them up to keep them from running the loop around the edge. With his quick feet, long arms, and a tremendous ability to bend at the knee, Mims doesn’t have to reach after rushers and is not a waist bender. Mims uses his length well to tie up rushers and does a very good job of sustaining his blocks. He also has a very strong base to hold up against bull rushes. Mims is bursting with talent and he often makes it look easy with how he shuts down good defensive ends. The only real flaw with Mims is a lack of experience and the raw elements of his game should get ironed out with pro coaching.

As a run blocker, Mims can be a dominator that blocks with aggression and a mean streak. Finding nasty bullies up front is getting more difficult as the uptempo and spread offense has changed the game. Mims is a throwback that blocks through the whistle, pushes defenders around, buries them into the ground, and finishes them off with violence. Mims has developed strength to push defenders out of their gap and open holes in the ground game. With heavy hands Mims is able to sustain his blocks after shocking defenders back. He also has shocking quickness and athleticism to get to the second level. Mims is fast flying to the second level and very agile in space to hit blocks on second level defenders. He can pull and would be a fit in a zone blocking or power man scheme. Mims has special size, strength, and athleticism to overwhelm defensive linemen.

With his incredible skill set, Mims could be a boom pick for the Bengals if he can stay on the field. Trent Brown is just a temporary stop-gap while Cincinnati develops Mims. The only issue that keeps me from putting Mims as the boom pick is his lack of durability and propensity to get injured. Being injury prone could prevent Mims from maxing out his talent but I think he will be a solid starter for Cincinnati after some developmental time.

2023: Jordan Battle, S
2022: Zachary Carter, DE
2021: Jackson Carman, G
2020: Tee Higgins, WR
2019: Jonah Williams, OT
2018: Sam Hubbard, DE
2017: John Ross, WR
2016: William Jackson, CB
2015: Paul Dawson, LB
2014: Darqueze Dennard, CB
2013: Tyler Eifert, TE

Most Likely To Bust

McKinnley Jackson, DT, Texas A&M – Round 3

The Bengals added two defensive tackles on the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft, and while I loved the first selection, I could see the second one being a risk to not panning out. Jackson is a heavy nose tackle to eat up blocks and plug up lanes at the point of attack. He does not have the ability to be a pass rusher and does not fit well in the sub package. There are times where Jackson blockers covered him up in the ground game. Third-round picks are expected to be backups that develop into starters and I could see Jackson falling short of that projection while topping out as a backup only at the NFL level.

2023: D.J. Turner, CB
2022: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB
2021: Joseph Ossai, LB
2020: Logan Wilson, LB
2019: Drew Sample, TE
2018: Malik Jefferson, LB
2017: Carl Lawson, LB
2016: Nick Vigil, LB
2015: Tyler Kroft, TE
2014: Russell Bodine, C
2013: Shawn Williams, S

Potential Boom Pick

Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan – Round 2

The Bengals lost a key contributor in D.J. Reader this offseason. While they have some decent veterans in B.J. Hill and Sheldon Rankins to start in 2023, they added a high upside player in Jenkins in the second round. I think Jenkins could be one of the top steals in the 2024 NFL Draft and it would not surprise me if he is an excellent pro by the end of his rookie contract.

In the ground game Jenkins is a dynamite defender with instincts that lead him to make tackles and cause disruption. Over the past two seasons, Jenkins has been one of the best run defending defensive linemen in college football. He is extremely stout at the point of attack. When runs come downhill at him, he is able to anchor and hold his ground. He also shows the strength to shed and tackle. Routinely Jenkins pushes his way into the backfield to disrupt runs and reset the line of scrimmage. His lateral anchor is advanced for a college player as he is tough to move at the point of attack even when taking on double teams. Jenkins is very strong to take on double team bump blocks and hold his ground when getting hit from the side. Entering the NFL, Jenkins is a very good run defender and he has the potential to be a huge asset as a run defender at pro level.

As a pass rusher Jenkins has upside. Michigan’s scheme did not always let him pin his ears back and go after the quarterback, but when he was given the green light Jenkins did a nice job of pressuring the quarterback. He has quickness to fire the gap and athleticism with loose hips to dodge blockers or loop around. When Jenkins gets free, he shows a burst to close and will put the quarterback into the turf with violence. Jenkins is dangerous on games doing a very good job of executing stunts. As a pro, it would help Jenkins to add refinement and quantity of pass rushing moves. With some development, Jenkins could be a three down starter. He may never be a prolific pass rusher that puts up double digit sacks, but he has the potential to be a player that produces 6-8 sacks per season in the good years of his career.

Jenkins has a great pro pedigree with untapped talent to develop with Cincinnati. By the end of his rookie season I could see him taking snaps from Hill and Rankins. In a few years I think Jenkins could be an excellent starter and a boom pick for Cincinnati.

2023: Myles Murphy, DE
2022: Daxton Hill, CB/S
2021: Ja’Marr Chase, WR
2020: Joe Burrow, QB
2019: Germaine Pratt, LB
2018: Billy Price, C
2017: Joe Mixon, RB
2016: Tyler Boyd, WR
2015: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT
2014: Jeremy Hill, RB
2013: Giovani Bernard, RB

Future Depth Player

Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama – Round 3

The Bengals rolled the dice on Burton in the third round and this could be a boom or bust selection. Burton is a dynamic receiver with excellent speed and superb route-running to consistently generate separation. However he has massive off the field issues that led to him getting benched at Alabama and Georgia. Burton has the talent to be a starter and the replacement for Tee Higgins if the veteran is traded or leaves in free agency. However, Burton’s problems could lead to him losing playing time. Through talent alone, I think he will be a good depth player but he may not have the football character to max out his potential at the pro level.

2023: Charlie Jones, WR
2022: Cordell Volson, G
2021: Tyler Shelvin, DT
2020: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB
2019: Ryan Finley, QB
2018: Mark Walton, RB
2017: Ryan Glasgow, DT
2016: Andrew Billings, DT
2015: Josh Shaw, CB
2014: A.J. McCarron, QB
2013: Margus Hunt, DE