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NFL mock draft: Cincinnati Bengals select OT Rashawn Slater

With the fifth pick in the POD Community Mock, the Bengals select...

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference-Football Championship-Northwestern vs Ohio State Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

We had our first curveball in the Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft with the fourth overall pick. Oregon’s Penei Sewell is considered by many to be the best non-quarterback prospect in this class, but many expect him to land with the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth overall pick. But in our mock, the Falcons snagged him right before the Bengals were on the clock.

So our acting Bengals general manager—commenter Sea Bee Russ—is left to try and deal with this worst-case scenario for Cincinnati. Before we get into his pick, here’s how the board has fallen thus far.

POD Community Mock Draft picks so far:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota
  4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

With the fifth pick in the POD Community Mock, the Bengals are taking Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.

Here’s Sea Bee Russ with the explanation:

Last year I drafted Joe Burrow to the Bengals No. 1 overall. This turned out to be fantastic for a while. It all came crashing back to earth when for all his greatness, Burrow ended up on IR. Time to protect my investment.

With the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Rashawn Slater, OL from Northwestern. Although he opted out of the 2020 season, he has upside that can be measured just by watching his game tapes. I call him an offensive lineman because of his athletic ability. He can play all 5 positions, although he is best suited inside.

At 6-foot-4, 304 pounds he has, at times, dominated his opponents. Notably, he held his own against Ohio State’s Chase Young in 2019. He has great footwork which gives him the quickness to push defenders back in the run game. His exceptional balance and great use of his hands allow him to get set on passing downs. His football IQ is outstanding, as he has shown he can play either side of the line:

2020: Opted out due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2019: 11 games started at left tackle
2018: 14 games started at right tackle, Third-Team All-Big Ten
2017: 12 games started at right tackle

While not the sexiest of picks, there are enough offense playmakers available on Day 2. This is not the best year to need offensive line help, so I took the one I believe will have a solid NFL career.

Erik Schlitt’s thoughts:

It’s hard to fault Sea Bee Russ’s decision to bolster the Bengals offensive line, and with the choices available, Slater is the top option to do this. Slater is a terrific player and is currently projected to be selected in the top half of the first round, but he has a few things working against him being selected by the Bengals.

Cincinnati just signed Riley Reiff to be their right tackle and bookend 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams. If the Bengals did select Slater he would likely push Reiff into a swing tackle role, not a terrible option, but also not an ideal use of the $4.8 million they are spending on him in 2021. Slater could also push inside to guard, but then—as we talked about with Sewell yesterday—you aren’t maximizing value.

But the biggest obstacle to the Bengals landing Slater to protect Burrow may actually be Burrow himself.

The Bengals lack a true WR1, and Burrow’s favorite target from college, Ja’Marr Chase, is staring them in the face. Burrow has reportedly already pleaded his case to the Bengals front office to bring Chase to Cincinnati, and franchises have a way of prioritizing their quarterback’s happiness. With Reiff in the fold, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bengals grab Chase here and target an offensive lineman early on Day 2.

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