Three best fits for Bengals in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

The Cincinnati Bengals hold the 18th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which begins on April 25.

LSU Tigers wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. (11) Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals expect to be Super Bowl contenders again in 2024 with the return of QB Joe Burrow, who suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11 of last season. They filled their remaining holes in free agency, signing RB Zack Moss, TE Mike Gesicki, right tackle Trent Brown, DT Sheldon Rankins, and safety Geno Stone. None of these moves are flashy, but they will allow Cincinnati to take a best-player-available approach.

With that in mind, these three prospects would be ideal selections for the Bengals in the first round.

Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Cincinnati was linked to several tight ends in last year’s draft but opted to sign veteran Irv Smith Jr. instead. He then had just 115 receiving yards and one touchdown. The team must learn from its mistake and not allow a similar scenario to play out in 2024 after signing Gesicki to a similar one-year deal.

Bowers is a bit of a luxury pick, but the Bengals have allowed themselves to make such a move thanks to their smart additions in free agency. He may be gone by the time they make their first selection, but if he falls, which some believe he could, it will only bolster Burrow’s arsenal of weapons.

The Georgia product is viewed as one of the best tight-end prospects in recent memory. He has posted 175 catches for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns in the past three years.

JC Latham, T, Alabama

Cincinnati’s biggest position of need after losing Jonah Williams to the Cardinals in free agency was offensive tackle. The team filled his vacancy with the 6-foot-8, 370-pound Brown. Like the Gesicki pickup, Brown doesn’t force the team to go O-line early, but he is also only playing on a one-year deal.

So, adding a future franchise tackle in Latham would make a ton of sense. The massive 6-foot-6, 335-pound offensive tackle, whose nickname is “Trench King,” allowed just two sacks in 2023 and would help protect Burrow for years to come.

Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

The Bengals have had one of the best wide receiver corps in the league over the past few years. However, Tyler Boyd is a free agent and Tee Higgins’ trade request is still looming.

Given the recent comments of head coach Zac Taylor, Cincinnati seems unwilling to entertain Higgins’ request, though.

“We’re excited for Tee to have a great year for us,” Taylor said via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We think he’s our best chance to help us win a Super Bowl. I’ve enjoyed working with Tee the last four years, I expect this year to be no different.”

Higgins may be willing to make a bigger scene to force his way out. If that’s the case, adding Thomas Jr., who led college football with 17 receiving touchdowns last season and 68 catches for 1,177 yards feels like a must.

The Bengals successfully dipped into the LSU pool for Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Why not do it again for Thomas Jr.?

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