Cincinnati Bengals 1st Round Mock Draft: Bengals Improve Secondary with Strong Corner Addition

This Cincinnati Bengals 1st Round Mock Draft is unique, addressing a unit that could easily become a strength with the right addition. The Cincinnati Bengals surprised many with their run to the Super Bowl in 2022, and while they fell short, Joe Burrow’s emergence as a star solidified their future as contenders. They had a down season in 2023 with tons of injuries but are still very much contenders in the AFC. With the 18th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bengals have a chance to address a key need and take another step toward building a championship team.

Cincinnati Bengals 1st Round Mock Draft: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Bengals surprised some by going defense in the first round, but the reasoning is clear. While the offensive line is always a concern for teams protecting a young quarterback, the Bengals addressed that need significantly in free agency by signing veteran right tackle Trent Brown. This allows them to focus on a secondary that, while talented, could use an upgrade at the cornerback position along with Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner.

Enter Terrion Arnold, a former five-star safety who transitioned smoothly to cornerback during his time at Alabama. At 6-foot and 189 pounds, Arnold possesses good size and length for the position. More importantly, he brings elite athleticism to the table, clocking a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Arnold’s skillset goes beyond just measurables. He’s a physical corner who thrives in press-man coverage, something the Bengals defense utilizes heavily. He’s also shown good instincts and ball skills, totaling six interceptions and 21 pass breakups in two seasons as a starter for the Crimson Tide.

Why Terrion Arnold?

While the Bengals considered other options at pick 18, Arnold emerged as the best fit for their needs and making the secondary a strength. Here’s a breakdown of why they went with the Alabama product:

  • Immediate Starter Potential: Arnold’s polished skillset and experience suggest he can contribute right away. Pairing him with Turner creates a young, talented cornerback duo for years to come.
  • Shutdown Ability: Arnold has the size, speed, and physicality to matchup with elite wide receivers in the AFC, a necessity in a conference loaded with offensive firepower.
  • Scheme Fit: Arnold’s ability to play press-man coverage perfectly aligns with the Bengals’ defensive philosophy. He thrives in taking away receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupting routes.

 

Cincinnati Bengals 1st Round Mock Draft Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama defensive back Terrion Arnold (DB02) works out during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals 1st Round Mock Draft: Other Options Considered

  • Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State: With the Brown signing, offensive line wasn’t the top priority, but Fuaga was a tempting option. He’s a massive tackle with impressive power and could have been a long-term solution protecting Burrow.
  • Byron Murphy, DL, Texas: The Bengals could always use more pressure on the quarterback. Murphy is a disruptive rusher with good speed and bend. They also lost DJ Reader this offseason. However, the emergence of Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson pushed him down the board.
  • Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson: Wiggins was a rising star in the draft process with his size (6-foot-3) and insanely fast 40-yard dash at 4.2 along with impressive ball skills.
  • JC Latham, OT, Alabama: Latham was a popular mock draft pick for the Bengals before the Brown signing. He’s a dominant right tackle prospect, but the Bengals found their answer in free agency.

 

Impact on the Bengals

The addition of Arnold significantly bolsters the Bengals’ secondary. He provides a lockdown presence along Turner and Taylor-Britt, giving them a cornerback room capable of shutting down opposing teams’ top wideouts. This allows the Bengals to be more aggressive with their defensive gameplan, knowing they have reliable coverage on the back end.

Overall, the Bengals’ decision to draft Arnold is a smart one. They addressed a need, landing a high-potential starter who can contribute immediately. This pick helps solidify their defense and gives Joe Burrow a strong supporting cast as they continue their quest for a Super Bowl title.

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