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2024 NFL mock draft roundup: Experts love 2 specific prospects for Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the more interesting teams to watch in the 2024 NFL draft.

Which makes 2024 NFL mock drafts must-see material.

The thing about the Bengals — picking 18th this year — is that much of what they do in the first round hinges on how they handle premium positions in free agency.

Lose offensive tackle Jonah Williams and the odds the team goes that way in the first round massively jump. Or, lose wideout Tee Higgins, no matter how unlikely that is, and taking a wide receiver is suddenly a likely thing.

Here’s a look at what some of the top mock drafts have the Bengals doing near the end of January.

ESPN

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.  has the Bengals addressing the offensive line with right tackle prospect JC Latham out of Alabama:

We could see a run on offensive linemen starting around here — this is a really talented tackle class. I have seven tackles ranked among my top 25 overall prospects. Latham started 27 games at right tackle for the Crimson Tide over the past two seasons. He can maul defenders in the run game, but he’s also light on his feet as a pass protector. With Jonah Williams headed to free agency, Latham could slot in on the right side and be an instant starter. I could also see the Bengals look toward the defensive tackle class, with Jer’Zhan Newton (Illinois) and T’Vondre Sweat (Texas) still available.

NFL.com

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah also has the Bengals going with Latham:

The Bengals have to address the offensive line. Some evaluators have Latham as a lock to go in the top 10. If he’s still available at No. 18, it’ll be a desirable scenario for Cincinnati. He can slide in at right tackle.

NFL.com

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, though, has the Bengals going back to LSU wide receivers with Brian Thomas Jr.:

The potential loss of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in free agency could force the Bengals to take an offensive weapon early in the draft. Thomas is an athletic playmaker with the size and ball skills to thrive as a WR2 opposite Ja’Marr Chase.

Draft Network

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News
Syndication: Tuscaloosa News

Draft Network’s Brentley Weissman goes right back to Latham:

The Bengals have needed to invest some high capital in the tackle position for quite some time and they finally do so here with the addition of Alabama’s JC Latham. Latham is a powerful tackle who will fit in perfectly on the right side of their offensive line.

Pro Football Network

Syndication: Online Athens
Syndication: Online Athens

Pro Football Network’s Joe Broback goes to the skill positions with Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, one of the most popular theories for Bengals fans:

While Joe Burrow recovers from injury, the Bengals are trying to figure out how to retool the offense for him. If they can’t bring back Tee Higgins, then the draft could be a way to find replacements.

Sporting News

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer brings up a good point about the defense, with the Bengals certainly known for early-round defensive backs, having them take Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry:

The Bengals know that Chidobe Awuzie is a pending 29-year-old free agent and given his recent injury issues, it would be wise to pass on re-signing. It helps Cincinnati is right in the wheelhouse to land McKinstry, who like Wiggins has some huge playmaking and shutdown upside.

CBS Sports

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso also likes the idea of the Bengals going back to LSU talent with Thomas Jr.:

If Tee Higgins bolts in free agency, another sizable and athletic wideout would be sensible for the Bengals offense.

FOX Sports

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

FOX Sports’ Rob Rang with one more suggestion about an LSU wideout:

Given that the Bengals are already going to be replacing offensive coordinator Brian Callahan (who was hired to be the Tennessee Titans’ next head coach), perhaps a club once known for its general disdain for spending big will open up the checkbook for pending free agent wide receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. If not, the 6-foot-4 Thomas offers a similar skill set as Higgins with the production (FBS-leading 17 TDs) and college pedigree at LSU that incumbent stars Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase (also former LSU Tigers) might appreciate.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire