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When the Cincinnati Bengals make their first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, they're going to be in an unfamiliar position: the bottom of the first round. 

This draft will mark the first time since 1989 that the Bengals will be making their first pick outside of the top 30, which is fitting, because the 1989 draft was also the last time the Bengals were coming off a Super Bowl season. 

With the Bengals picking so low this year, there's a lot less pressure on them. When you're picking in the top five -- like the Bengals did last year -- you need to hit a home run with the pick if you want to get things turned around quickly, and the Bengals did that when they selected Ja'Marr Chase

When you're picking at the back end of the first round, you don't necessarily need to hit a home run; you just need a find a guy who will make your team better. One advantage for the Bengals this year is that they're in a spot where they can draft the best available player instead of trying to fill their biggest need. 

Going into the offseason, the Bengals' biggest hole was on the offensive line, but they beefed up there by adding three key free agents (Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, La'el Collins). Those additions should allow the Bengals to go any route they want in the draft, which could still include taking an offensive lineman in the first round. 

So what should the Bengals do in the draft? Let's take a look at their perfect draft plan. 

Day 1

Ideal pick: Corner or defensive lineman 
Also would make sense: Interior offensive lineman

The Bengals' two biggest needs going into the draft are at cornerback and defensive tackle. Although the Bengals signed Eli Apple to a new one-year deal, they definitely don't view him as a long-term solution at the position, which is why they could look for a corner in the first round. 

As for the defensive line, the Bengals lost Larry Ogjunobi to free agency, and right now, they don't have anyone in position to take his place. The D-line is probably a slightly bigger concern, but the problem with this draft is that there aren't very many players at the position with a first-round grade and the one who do have a first-round grade will likely be off the board before the Bengals pick at No. 31. 

A corner like Andrew Booth, Kyler Gordon or Kaiir Elam would be ideal, but if they're not available, the Bengals could hope someone like Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt falls in their lap.

The good news for the Bengals is that if they don't like their corner or defensive tackle options at No. 31, they can simply call an audible and take an offensive lineman. If Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum were to fall all the way down to the 31st spot, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Bengals take him. Despite signing three offensive linemen in free agency, the Bengals could still stand to add depth to the unit. The Bengals' biggest question on the line right now is at left guard, which is why an interior linemen would make the most sense. 

Verdict: In my seven-round mock draft for Cincinnati, I have the Bengals going with Elam in the first round. 

Day 2

Ideal picks: Safety, tight end or first-round leftovers
Also would make sense: EDGE 

Day 2 of the draft is where things should get interesting for Cincinnati. Assuming the Bengals don't make a trade, they'll only have two picks on Day 2: The 63rd overall pick (second-round) and the 95th overall pick (third-round). 

They'll almost certainly go into the the second day with five big needs: safety, EDGE, tight end and the two remaining positions from my first round recommendation. Once again, the Bengals plan should be to take the best player available at whatever position they need. 

The safety spot would be an interesting option for the Bengals because it's not a huge need this year, but it could end up being one of their biggest needs after 2022. Not only is Vonn Bell heading into the final year of his contract, but there's no guarantee that Jessie Bates is going to return in 2023. The Bengals hit him with the franchise tag this year, but the two sides seem pretty far apart on a potential long-term deal. The Bengals could lose one or both of these guys after this season, which means it would be smart to bring in a safety  on Day 2. The Bengals would be thrilled if they could get someone like Cincinnati's Bryan Cook or Baylor's Jalen Pitre. 

Verdict: In my seven-round mock draft, I have the Bengals landing a safety (Bryan Cook) and an offensive lineman (Georgia's Jamaree Salyer) on Day 2. 

Day 3

Ideal picks: Fill any leftover needs

With only three picks in the first two days, the Bengals won't be able to fill many of the less urgent holes on their roster, so that's what they should be looking to do on Day 3. For Day 1 and Day 2, I listed a total of six positions the Bengals should look to fill and if they take three players who play three different positions with their first three picks, that means they still have three other positions of need. On top of that, the Bengals should look to take a wide receiver on Day 3 because they don't have much depth behind their three main guys (Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd). 

The Bengals have a total of five picks on Day 3 and I won't be surprised at all if they use two of those five picks on a tight end and wide receiver. 

Verdict: The Bengals have eight picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and in my seven-round mock, I have them taking two defensive backs (corner and safety), one offensive lineman, one tight end, one wide receiver, one running back, one EDGE and one defensive lineman. 

Seven-round mock

Here's what we have the Bengals doing in our seven-round mock that came out in early April

Round (Overall pick)

Prospect (position)


1 (31)

Kaiir Elam, CB


2 (63)

Jamaree Salyer, OL


3 (95)

Bryan Cook, Safety


4 (136)

Neil Farrell Jr., DT 


5 (174)

Grant Calcaterra, TE


6 (209)

Danny Gray, WR


7 (226)

LaBryan Ray, DE


7 (252)

Kennedy Brooks, RB