As the 2021 NFL Draft creeps closer, it’s starting to look like the top 10 will actually consist of two different drafts. After the Niners traded up and nabbed the third overall pick, quarterbacks are all but guaranteed to go 1-2-3 for the first time since 1999. And depending on what the Falcons do at No. 4, QBs could potentially come off the board with the top four picks for the first time in NFL history. That unprecedented event means that a different draft — one reserved for teams that don’t need a QB — will be unfolding for the rest of the top 10.
A scenario that involves a QB going fourth overall (to the Falcons or an unknown team that swings a trade) would essentially mean that the draft starts with the Bengals at No. 5, which would bring added scrutiny to an already crucial decision for the future of the franchise. The hourglass in Cincinnati turned over the moment that the Bengals made Joe Burrow the No. 1 pick last spring, and the urgency only revved up after the Heisman-winning QB tore his ACL 10 games into his rookie season. The Bengals’ front office has to start building around their franchise quarterback, and the opportunity to potentially draft the best non-QB in the draft could go a long way in jumpstarting that process.
Over the past few weeks, a debate has been raging about which player Cincinnati should draft at No. 5, and it’s primarily come down to two players: LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell (Florida tight end Kyle Pitts may actually be the best choice of the three, but that’s a conversation for another time). If you travel to certain corners of Bengals Twitter or Reddit, I promise there are cases being made for both players right now. Few draft topics warrant meme treatment, but the Chase-Sewell battle has certainly cleared that bar.