Before the 2021 season, the Jaguars and Bengals had similar longshot odds to win Super Bowl LVI. Unlike the Jaguars, the Bengals vastly exceeded all expectations. Counting the playoffs, Joe Burrow was sacked a combined 70 times in 20 games. Yes, Chase was the right decision in the Chase vs. Penei Sewell debate, but improving Burrow's protection has to be the team's top priority this offseason. Penning would immediately become an upgrade over right tackle Isaiah Prince, who graded out as PFF's 82nd of 83 qualified offensive tackles in '21. I'd expect the Bengals to devote multiple draft picks to address their offensive line woes.
Even if the Bengals add OL help in free agency, drafting a potential starter at guard or center wouldn't be a bad idea at all. Johnson quietly had a terrific Senior Bowl and looked natural snapping for the first time in a live, competitive setting. He could replace Trey Hopkins or slide right in at guard in 2022.
The Bengals made it all the way to the Super Bowl despite having a weak offensive line, and it remains their top priority heading into this offseason. This scenario gives them the perfect opportunity to address their need at right guard with a polished, physical blocker in Johnson, who would be an immediate upgrade.
Do we even need to explain this one? Cincinnati allowed 55 sacks in 2021 (third most), and then it took 19 more across four playoff games. Its 48.8% pass block win rate was 30th in the NFL. The season ultimately ended on a pressure, as Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got to quarterback Joe Burrow on the Bengals' final offensive play of the Super Bowl. Burrow is one of the best young passers in the game, and Cincinnati must, must, must clean up the offensive line to keep him healthy and let him operate the offense with more ease. Raimann has a powerful upper body and shuts down pass-rushers when he gets his hands inside.
One of the few blights in an otherwise brilliant season was the play up front in Cincinnati, where Joe Burrow continued to get pummeled.
Cross has the light feet, active hands and length that scouts prioritize at left tackle but isn't as forceful in the running game. He could slip further down draft boards than his media hype suggests, as the track record of blockers out of Mike Leach's offense is discouraging.
When you might have the league's next great quarterback (Joe Burrow) on your roster, but he's sacked a league-high 51 times in the regular season -- and a record-tying nine more in one playoff game ... and a record-tying seven more in the Super Bowl defeat to the Rams -- it's obvious what needs to be done. Green played every O-line position but center for the Aggies in 2021 but took most of his college snaps at left guard. Even if Cincinnati adds blockers in free agency, a near overhaul might be required.
If the Bengals have one priority this offseason, it's to get better protection for Joe Burrow. Penning brings length, athleticism, and a nasty demeanor to the Cincinnati line. Drop him in at right tackle and let Burrow go to work.
You watched the Los Angeles Rams sack Joe Burrow seven times to win the Super Bowl; and the Bengals watched it too. Expect early resources to be spent upgrading the offensive line. With the return of 2021 second-rounder Jackson Carman and adding Zion Johnson, the interior in Cincinnati could be a stretch in no time.
Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill are both scheduled to hit free agency. I couldn't help but notice Wyatt's power and explosiveness from the three-technique spot during Senior Bowl week, as well as his major contributions for Georgia's prospect-laden defense.
The dream scenario. The Bengals badly need offensive line help that can step in right away. The good news is that Green has shown he can start anywhere, as he logged reps at every position except center this season.