What Are The Cincinnati Bengals’ Team Needs In The 2022 NFL Draft?

The 2022 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 28. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position is in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2022 NFL Draft hub.

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What Picks do the Cincinnati Bengals have in 2022

The Cincinnati Bengals have eight picks.

Round 1 (31)
Round 2 (63)
Round 3 (95)
Round 4 (136)
Round 5 (174)
Round 6 (209)
Round 7 (226)
Round 7 (252)


Cincinnati Bengals Top POSITIONS OF NEED

Interior OL, TE, Defensive depth

Cincinnati Bengals Strength of Schedule, 2022

The Cincinnati Bengals have the seventh hardest NFL strength of schedule for the 2022 NFL season.

Cincinnati Bengals Offense

By Rich Hribar


Joe Burrow
Brandon Allen
Jake Browning

The Bengals went from having the No. 5 pick in the draft in 2021 all the way to the Super Bowl. 

With Joe Burrow still only in Year 3 of his rookie contract, Cincinnati is in great shape here. 

Burrow took off in Year 2, leading the league in completion percentage (70.4%) and yards per attempt (9.0), the first passer to lead the league in both categories since Drew Brees in 2017. 

Backups Brandon Allen and Jake Browning are only signed through this season, but quarterback is not a need.


Joe Mixon
Samaje Perine
Chris Evans
Trayveon Williams
Elijah Holyfield
Pooka Williams

Joe Mixon turned in a season many had been going to bat for years, racking up 1,519 yards and 16 touchdowns on 334 touches. Cincinnati still has Mixon under contract for the next two seasons with a club option in 2024. 

The Bengals still have their reserves from a year ago intact, but if they wish to explore any contractual depth, only Chris Evans is under contract beyond this season after Mixon. 


Ja’Marr Chase
Tee Higgins
Tyler Boyd
Trent Taylor
Stanley Morgan
Mike Thomas
Trenton Irwin
Scotty Washington

The Bengals have nailed front-end wide receiver selections in back-to-back years in Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase.

Chase turned in a massive rookie season, putting up 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the first rookie to ever have multiple games posting 200 yards receiving.

Higgins also improved across the board in his second season, raising his yards per catch (14.7 yards), receptions (5.3) and yards (77.9) per game, catch rate (67.3%), and yards per target (9.9 yards) all from his rookie season. 

After Higgins returned from injury in Week 5, he posted an 82-1,282-6 line on 125 targets over his final 16 games played with Chase while Chase notched 87-1,500-10 on 134 targets.

The team still has veteran Tyler Boyd as a third option in the slot. 

Boyd felt the sting of no longer being in contention for the top receiver on his team in 2021, clearly falling behind as an ancillary option in the passing game.

Boyd’s 5.9 targets per game were his lowest since 2017 while his receiving yardage per game has declined from the previous season in each of the past three seasons. Boyd only carries dead cap hits of $2.8 million and $1.4 million over the final two years of his contract, but he surely will not be going anywhere for 2022.

While the Bengals have one of the best trios of wideouts in the league, the depth here is more than lackluster. 

Zac Taylor comes from a line of 11 personnel usage and the Bengals used three or more wideouts on the field for 816 offensive snaps, which ranked fourth in the league. As strong as the Bengals are up top, they should not stop adding depth at the position. 


Hayden Hurst
Drew Sample
Thadeus Moss

With such a strong wide receiver group, the Bengals did not call on throwing to their tight ends much. They ranked 30th in the league in targets (4.8) and yardage (34.7 yards) per game from their tight ends in 2021.

That said, the team did lose C.J. Uzomah in free agency. Uzomah was 11th among all tight ends in route participation (73.1%) and played 77% of the offensive snaps for the Bengals. 

The team added Hayden Hurst on a one-year deal, but Hurst has never lived up to his first-round draft capital from 2018.  Last year playing behind Kyle Pitts, Hurst averaged a career-low 8.5 yards per catch, while his career highs are 56 catches for 571 yards and six scores in 2020.

None of these three tight ends are signed beyond this season, either. They should definitely look at adding a rookie with Hurst as a bridge playing time.


LT: Jonah Williams/D’Ante Smith
LG: Jackson Carman/Hakeem Adeniji
C: Ted Karras/ Trey Hill/Lamont Gaillard
RG: Alex Cappa
RT: La’El Collins/Isaiah Prince

The weakest link from the 2021 season, the Bengals offensive line ranked 30th in the league in ESPN’s pass block win rate (49%). Only two teams allowed more sacks than the Bengals during the regular season while only the Bears allowed a higher sack rate per dropback than Cincinnati at 9.6%.

When the Bengals did not allow or take on a drive, they ranked second in the NFL in points per drive (2.83) and touchdown rate per drive (34.1%) as opposed to ranking 11th in points per drive (1.08) and 12th in touchdown rate per drive (9.6%) when they did have a possession with a sack.

While the latter is still above average, this offense has the capability to go to warp speed if their offensive line and Joe Burrow himself (who is also part of the sack issue) can shave down their totals in 2022. 

The Bengals got the ball rolling in free agency immediately, signing Alex Cappa, La’El Collins, and Ted Karras to multi-year deals. 

Just getting Isaiah Prince (9.6% pressure rate allowed) and Hakeem Adeniji (7.9%) off the field is addition by subtraction, but all three additions are major upgrades to go along with Jonah Williams at left tackle. 

The one spot left open for discussion still is who will start alongside those four. 

Cincinnati could still push to bring back left guard Quinton Span, who remains a free agent. Spain was second on the team with 740 pass blocking snaps during the regular season, allowing a 4.1% pressure rate and seven sacks. He ranked 44th among all guards in overall grade per Pro Football Focus. 

The Bengals also could explore moving last year’s second-round pick (46th overall) Jackson Carman to left guard. Carman struggled as a rookie, failing to get on the field on a front in need of support. Carman ended up starting just six games and playing 42% of the snaps despite being active for all 17 weeks. He was 70th out of 88 qualifying guards in grade per Pro Football Focus. 

The third option the Bengals have at their disposal if they do not add a left guard is to add a center and let Karras man the left guard position. Karras has experience all over the line and primarily played left guard in 2021, playing 757 snaps (84.9%) there for the Patriots a year ago. 

As much work as the Bengals have done, interior additions are still warranted.

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Cincinnati Bengals Defense

By Dan Pizzuta

Interior Defensive Line

D.J. Reader
B.J. Hill
Josh Tupou
Tyler Shelvin

The Bengals got a ton of pass rush production from Larry Ogunjobi, but after just a one-year deal, he’s currently a free agent (after a failed physical on a contract agreement with the Bears). B.J. Hill is likely to serve as the disruptive interior pass rusher. Hill was acquired last offseason and played 45% of the defensive snaps.

Hill ranked 35th among defensive tackles in pressure rate per SIS and he signed a three-year deal to stay in Cincinnati.

After an injury-shortened 2020, D.J. Reader played 52.5% of the defensive snaps and had some solid run defense in the middle. The Bengals were an average rush defense overall, but had top-10 value by EPA when Reader was on the field.

Reader and Hill make a good starting duo, but the Bengals rotated the interior fairly often and more depth is likely to be added here.


Trey Hendrickson
Sam Hubbard
Cameron Sample
Khalid Kareem
Wyatt Hubert
Joseph Ossai
Noah Spence

Trey Hendrickson was Cincinnati’s big free agent pickup last offseason and he put to rest any concerns that his 2020 breakout was a one-year outlier. Hendrickson had 27 quarterback hits, 14 sacks, and ranked ninth among edge rushers in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate. He was fourth in pressure rate among edge rushers, per SIS.

Sam Hubbard was a useful complement across from Hendrickson. Hubbard ranked second among edge rushers in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate. Hubbard was consistently in the backfield during the season. He had career-highs with 17 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss. Hubbard signed a four-year extension through 2025 before the 2021 season.

Cincinnati could add some more depth here to bet on some more upside to add to the rotation. The other players behind the starters did not add a significant level of production when on the field. 

Off-ball Linebacker

Logan Wilson
Germaine Pratt
Akeem Gaither-Davis
Markus Bailey
Clay Johnston
Joe Bachie
Keandre Jones

The Bengals have a number of rangy linebackers who can chase and tackle, though coverage has been lacking. Among 85 qualified linebackers, Bengals linebackers ranked 45th (Akeem Gaither-Davis), 75th (Germaine Pratt), and 77th (Logan Wilson) in yards allowed per coverage snap.

Pratt was an effective blitzer with a high pressure rate while rushing on 10.5% of his pass snaps.

Wilson played 62.9% of the defensive snaps and Pratt played 61.6%. Pratt is on the final year of his rookie contract while both Wilson and Gaither-Davis are signed through 2023.


Chidobe Awuzie
Eli Apple
Mike Hilton
John Brannon
Jalen Davis

This is where the Bengals’ free agency dive really paid off last season. Chidobe Awuize was 40th in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap and held up as a highly-targeted top corner. Mike Hilton remained one of the league’s best slot blitzers and ranked 45th in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap. Awuzie signed a three-year deal last offseason and is signed through 2023. Hilton is signed through 2024.

Eli Apple was a one-year flier and while he got picked on in the playoffs, he was the best on a per-coverage snap basis. Apple ranked 24th in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap and re-signed for another one-year deal. 


Jessie Bates
Vonn Bell
Michael Thomas
Brandon Wilson
Trayvon Henderson

Jessie Bates had some inconsistencies during the regular season, but turned it on over the last few weeks and throughout the postseason. Bates has been one of the Bengals’ best defensive players throughout his career, though there is still no long-term deal in place. Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on Bates for 2022.

With Bates mostly playing deep, Vonn Bell played all around the back end of the secondary and had what was arguably the best season of his career. Bell set career-highs in both passes defensed and tackles for loss.

Bates and Bell made up a significant amount of the Bengals’ snaps at safety. Bates played 84.8% of the defensive snaps and Bell played 89.3%. Bell joins Bates with just 2022 left on his contract after signing a three-year deal in 2020.

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