It's NFL draft day and there's still no clarity about who the Cincinnati Bengals will draft with the fifth overall pick today.
While most NFL draft analysts are certain that the Bengals will pick a player to help bolster the offense, they remain unsure whether the team will draft a wide receiver or a pass protector to help Joe Burrow as he enters his sophomore season.
Let's look at the two players that most draft analysts believe the Bengals will choose from with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
#1 - Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase is a true #1 receiver with no weaknesses in his game. He had arguably the most dominant individual receiving season in college football history in 2019. He caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, helping LSU win the National Championship.
Perhaps what makes Chase a more tantalizing pick than any other wide receiver is his pre-existing chemistry with current Bengals and former LSU starting QB Joe Burrow.
On the field, Chase is capable of being the focal point of a team's passing game. He is a polished route runner who seems likely to score a touchdown every time he gets the ball in his hands. Defenses have to show him extra attention or risk getting burnt.
The only negative with Chase is the fact that he only has one dominant collegiate season as he didn’t light the world on fire in 2018 and opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
NFL draft analysts point out that Chase may have peaked on an extremely talented team. On a Bengals team that isn't quite filled to the brim with talent, he’ll have to adjust to receiving more attention from opposing defenses.
#2 - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Penei Sewell has been touted by NFL draft analysts as a generational left tackle.
Sewell is seen as a complete lineman with incredibly polished technique to go with supreme athletic ability. He possesses the footwork, agility and reflexes to hold down any pass rusher in the NFL.
Sewell was one of the star linemen for the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert during their time together in Oregon. Sewell still has time to grow even more due to his young age and he could be a mainstay at left tackle for the Bengals for a decade or more.
Like Chase, Sewell only really has one elite season in college football. His freshman season at Oregon was hampered by injuries and he opted out of the 2020 college football season in his junior year before declaring for the NFL draft.
The only negative with Sewell is that nobody seems to believe he can stop pass rushers from setting the edge, a trait common among dominant offensive linemen like Quenton Nelson or Zack Martin. Although this isn’t a big concern, it could be a problem when Sewell has to go up against the best pass rushers the NFL has to offer.
Who should the Cincinnati Bengals select with the 5th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft?
Joe Burrow has already suffered one major knee injury in his rookie season. If the Bengals are serious about his well-being, they must provide him with ample protection or risk derailing his career arc.
The Bengals already have a solid group of pass-catchers centered around Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. What they need is someone capable of keeping their star QB upright so he can deliver dimes.
With that in mind, it would be shocking to see the Bengals pass on Penei Sewell and draft a receiver with the 5th overall pick later today.