The following is an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s 2024 Football Preview book. In addition to Warren’s deep, detailed write-up on all 32 NFL teams, each chapter features page after page of full-color charts, stats, and heatmaps as well as draft class analysis from Ryan McCrystal. Click here for a full FREE chapter from the 2024 Football Preview.

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, we’re starting to understand how 2024 NFL draft classes will impact each roster this season.

Let’s look at the Cincinnati Bengals, breaking down the most likely instant-impact rookies from each class, while also providing some insight into why certain early picks may not see the field.

Who are the Cincinnati Bengals rookies?

  • Amarius Mims — OT — Round 1
  • Kris Jenkins — DL — Round 2
  • Jermaine Burton — WR — Round 3
  • McKinnley Jackson — DT — Round 3
  • Erick All — TE — Round 4
  • Josh Newton — CB — Round 5
  • Tanner McLachlan — TE — Round 6
  • Cedric Johnson — EDGE — Round 6
  • Daijahn Anthony — S — Round 7
  • Matt Lee — C — Round 7

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Class Grade:

The Cincinnati Bengals received a B- draft grade from Sharp Football.

Which Bengals Rookies Will Make An Impact?

The selection of Amarius Mims (first round) blended need with value, though he’s unlikely to see action early in his career due to his lack of experience. Mims has just 176 career reps in pass protection when the quarterback takes a traditional dropback of three or more steps. Bengals quarterbacks took 378 such dropbacks last season alone. This was a perfect landing spot for the 6-foot-8 Mims, who can learn from Orlando Brown Jr. and Trent Brown. Mastering the nuances of playing at that size can take time, and Mims certainly has an edge in learning from other massive linemen. 

Kris Jenkins (second round) was also a selection for the future as he will likely serve as a backup in the rotation behind B.J. Hill and Sheldon Rankins. Hill is a free agent after this year, however, so a job will open up soon, and Jenkins has the tools to be a three-down lineman in the future. 

Jenkins will be joined on the interior by McKinnley Jackson (third round). This selection felt like a reach, but Jackson was a two-time team captain (a factor the Bengals prioritize in drafts) and complements Jenkins well. Jackson primarily lined up at nose tackle at Texas A&M while Jenkins is better suited as a three-tech. Cincinnati lined up in a four-man front 80% of the time last year, so having linemen who fill both roles is key. This duo may be starting next to each other in 2025 or 2026. 

Jermaine Burton (third round) has a path to a starting job due to the loss of Tyler Boyd, but there are concerns about his maturity, and he never lived up to expectations during his career at Georgia and Alabama. As for his role in Cincinnati’s offense, it’s tough to see Burton fitting perfectly into Boyd’s role in the slot. Based on route-adjusted metrics, Burton gained 11% fewer yards after the catch than expected over his two seasons at Alabama. He’s probably better suited to line up on the outside next year if Tee Higgins is not re-signed. 

Erick All (fourth round) was a gamble due to significant injury concerns. He missed most of the 2022 season due to back surgery and then had a season-ending ACL injury in 2023. But Cincinnati is still looking for a long-term solution at tight end, so there’s an opportunity to compete for immediate playing time. Over the last three seasons at Michigan and Iowa, All’s catch rate was 2.0% below expected based on route-adjusted data. 

All will have to fight off Tanner McLachlan (sixth round), who also has an ACL tear in his past. Over the last two years at Arizona, McLachlan generated a catch rate 7.2% above expected with 9.7% more yards after catch than expected, so don’t assume All will easily beat him out for a job. 

Josh Newton (fifth round) spent six years in college and started 59 career games at Louisiana-Monroe and TCU. He was still on the board due to modest size and mediocre testing numbers, but his ball-hawk rate was 43% above expected based on route-adjusted metrics, so don’t count him out.

Cedric Johnson (sixth round) is a developmental prospect who likely won’t see the field much in the short term.

Daijahn Anthony (seventh round) spent six years in college at three schools and only one season as a starter. His roster spot likely hinges on his ability to lock down a job on special teams. 

Matt Lee (seventh round) stayed on board as long as he did due to modest physical traits which may limit him to playing center. However, he was an effective four-year starter in that role at UCF and Miami, and Ted Karras is in the final year of his contract.

The Bengals are obsessed with adding “winners” to the roster, almost to a comical level. Each of Cincinnati’s first-round picks since 2017 has participated in the college football playoff as well as six of eight second-round picks. 

This looks like a strong class for Cincinnati with at least five players having the potential to land a starting job down the road. However, it would not be shocking if no one from this class is a full time starter in 2024. 

This analysis continues in the 2024 Football Preview

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Draft Class Analysis for All 32 Teams
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