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Bengals take major trade risk in Mel Kiper’s new 2022 NFL mock draft

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In a recent seven-round mock draft of our own, we made a point to have the Cincinnati Bengals trade down out of the first round while picking up extra draft picks.

Those Bengals are in a prime trade-down spot at No. 31 given that droves of teams look to move back up into the first for falling prospects — especially quarterbacks.

But any trade down by the Bengals would need to first guarantee that a can’t-miss prospect for their program isn’t still on the board.

And in the latest two-round mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the Bengals trade down four spots from 31 while gaining an extra fourth-round pick — with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum still available.

Picking third in the second round at 35th overall, the Bengals then take Flordai cornerback Kaiir Elam:

“Cornerback is the position the Bengals should target if they keep the No. 31 pick, and they should be thrilled with Elam here. He locked down receivers for the Gators and then ran a 4.39 40 at the combine. He could be a Day 1 starter for Cincinnati.”

The Bengals then add UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich at No. 63.

Not a bad haul by any means — corner is a big need and Elam is a Round 1 prospect. Long-term output at tight end is a need and Dulcich could end up being the best in the class.

But.

But, Linderbaum is a lock as the runaway top center in the class. Were centers not valued as highly in the draft process, he might go off the board in the top 15. And the Bengals upgraded only three of the four line spots in front of Joe Burrow in free agency. Linderbaum could start at center right away, sliding Ted Karras to left guard and guaranteeing upgrades at all four spots.

These are the sorts of brutally tough trade-offs the front office will have to weigh when it comes to trades. In this scenario, an extra fourth-rounder while one of the draft’s best offensive linemen is still on the board probably isn’t worth it, but it’s hard to gauge whether the decision-makers would agree during the real thing.

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