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Big NFL Draft decision looms for Bengals. Who should they pick?

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 18:41:18-04

Watch WCPO's Facebook Live Wednesday at 3 p.m. when Caleb Noe and Tanya O'Rourke of The Flying Pigskin Podcast sort through the rumors and answer your questions about the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Bengals already got new stripes for 2021, and soon the team will have a new draft pick to wear the new threads. Who will the team roar into the night with?

ESPN Bengals reporter Ben Baby says there’s really no wrong answer.

“This team needs that first pick to be an immediate impact player because when you look at it, they shouldn't be at the end of the rebuilding process," Baby said. "Seemingly they should have enough pieces to be able to make a push for at least a .500 record or even see if they can crack the playoffs in year three under Zac Taylor.”

Many NFL draft boards have narrowed the Bengals' pick down to three players: LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who played with Joe Burrow at LSU, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell.

In a recent story on ESPN.com, Baby wrote that passing on Sewell could be a big risk for the Bengals.

“Penei right now, I think a lot of people believe he's a plug-and-play guy who can really come in and do a lot of things well," Baby said. "Mel Kiper said he's one of the best tackle prospects he’s seen in several years, and so when you look at passing on a guy like that, there's no guarantee that you're going to get him in future years.”

That's a sports analyst's perspective. For a second opinion, we went to another kind of expert: Jeremy Conley, who has been a Bengals fan since 1988. On Sundays, he doesn't just dress up in a jersey — he becomes a bona fide super fan as Bengals Captain Obvious.

“I think the team, the connection, the memories that I've had with the team, being a fan my entire life, it’s a part of who I am,” Conley said.

He's heavily invested in the upcoming draft, and he knows who he'd pick: Ja'Marr Chase.

“I looked at those measurables, I looked at the athleticism, I looked at the connection with him and Burrow, I looked at what other offensive linemen were available in the second round, and I'm officially Team Chase," Conley said. "It is make or break because I think they’re going to knock it out of the park.”

So who should the Bengals take with the fifth overall pick? The only sure thing is that fans hope the team gets it right this time.

“This is a city that's just asking for one playoff win," Baby said. "They haven't had one since January 1991, and I think we can all agree, it doesn't take 30 years to produce a playoff win.”



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