One more NFL mock draft: Can the Bengals fill all their needs?

How many needs can the Cincinnati Bengals fill in the 2024 NFL Draft?

That is the question I sought to answer while playing around with a couple of mock draft simulators this week.

The answer is…. a little complicated.

As a team with Super Bowl aspirations and a franchise quarterback, the Bengals have plenty of areas that could use shoring up.

They should be able to add good players on the offensive line, defensive line and at cornerback and tight end before the weekend is over, right?

Yeah, but the devil is in the details.

In a best-case scenario, they can get two potential plus-starters at positions of need, but it feels like they might be able to lock in only one with the No. 18 pick in the first round.

On the bright side, there are so many major talents available in the trenches on either side of the ball that they almost can’t help but find one. They could probably trade down a few spots and still get one, though my experience with the mock draft simulators indicated that might not be worthwhile simply because lower-round picks don’t have nearly as much value for a team in need of instant impact.

On my first attempt via the Pro Football Focus simulator (which depends on PFF rankings, which should stand out in some ways from the group-think of other sites for better or for worse), I ended dup with Alabama OT CJ Latham.

In this scenario, I was not tempted to take a defensive tackle because Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton and Troy Murphy II of Texas were both off the board.

That worked out when Kris Jenkins of Michigan was still on the board in the second round. I view him as a good fit for the Bengals, who need a run-stopping defensive tackle but could use a little more pass-rush pop in there, too.

Next came the eventual replacement for Tee Higgins, Javon Baker of Central Florida in the third round. This pick could go a few different directions, but he was the best player available at that time.

The third round yielded an interesting option in Sedrick Van Pran of Georgia. He could be the center of the future or provide help at guard as the interior of the line will need reinforcements sooner or later.

(I ended up with him in a second mock, too, so maybe it is in the stars?)

As a bonus, I was contemplating picking Ohio State tight end Cade Stover with that pick, but that seemed like a little more of a luxury pick than further fortifying the line.

Guess what? Stover was still there with my next selection, so I used it on “Farmer Gronk,” who fits the Bengals’ pass-happy scheme that is already outdated and relies too heavily on 11 personnel (three receivers, a tight end and a running back).

After that, it was a matter of taking guys I believed filled needs even if they didn’t have a lot of name recognition, but you can check them out above.

Because these things can break many ways, I tried a second mock draft on PFF and this time Latham was gone along with those two defensive tackles so I went with Taliese Fuaga of Oregon State, who fits the Bengals profile as a giant human (even for an NFL offensive lineman) and could play guard or tackle.

This time I couldn’t find a defensive tackle with second round value so I went for a needed starting cornerback (T.J. Tampa of Iowa State) followed by a replacement for Tyler Boyd (Jalen McMillan) before hitting Van Pran again, but I don’t think I ever ended up with a starting defensive tackle.

In both PFF mock drafts, I was able to find a big back on Day 3 to pair with second-year man Chase Brown: First it was Isaac Gurendo of Louisville then Braelon Allen of Wisconsin. (The Bengals might be unlikely to follow this plan, but I believe it would be in their best interest. Love the idea of Allen, who has great agility and quickness for a 240-something back, running wild against light boxes teams tend to use to control the big-play potential of the passing game.)

To avoid being beholden do the PFF rankings, I also tried out a simulator from Pro Football Network. That one offered the chance to make computer-initiated trades, which was interesting.

The evil Steelers tricked me into moving down two spots only to see Latham and Oregon State OT Taliese Fuaga come off the board at 18 and 19, but I was still able to draft Troy Fautanu of Washington with the 20th pick.

In this case, Newton and Murphy were also still on the board (unlike in the PFF simulator), but I felt like offensive tackle was just too high a value to pass up.

There is no picture of that mock because the simulator froze before I could save it, but when I ran the PFN simulation again, I did not trade back in the first round.

In that case, I was able to get Latham before adding an interior offensive lineman, a defensive tackle, a cornerback, tight end and a running back in the first 149 picks, so that felt very productive.

Who knows what names might actually fill those spots over the next three days, but if the Bengals end up doing something similar it should feel like a pretty productive exercise.

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