There was no shortage of critics when the Cincinnati Bengals took Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell but his record-setting start to the season has silenced them all
When the Cincinnati Bengals were on the clock at No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, there were plenty of expectations for them to take Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. The reasoning was sound as Joe Burrow was beaten up in year one for them and was still recovering from a torn ACL.
However, there was another player well worth the investment, who also already had a rapport with Burrow. That player was LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase, who ended up being the pick.
As is often the case when pundits get it wrong, the move was attacked vehemently. Those cries of the Bengals making a mistake only grew when Chase struggled with the drops in the preseason.
Fast forward to Week 7 and no one is criticizing Cincinnati now. Chase not only ripped off 201 yards in their upset over the Baltimore Ravens but he also set an NFL record with 754 yards in his first seven games — the best start ever by anyone to play the position.
Many have started to admit they were wrong after seeing how much Chase has meant to this offensive outpouring on the 5-2 Bengals.
There are others who have remained silent but at this point, it would be impossible for anyone to second-guess the move this front office made.
Why the Bengals were right about Ja’Marr Chase
None of this is meant as a knock on Penei Sewell who ended up with the Detroit Lions. He’s been a solid player and would have been perfectly fine with Cincy as well. But the Bengals didn’t need fine, they needed a shot in the arm.
Chase has provided them that, and then some.
Another reason they were smart in this move was their investment made in the offseason. Following their struggles in 2020, the Bengals signed Riley Reiff to play left tackle and while he’s not exactly elite, he’s a serviceable starter who was able to keep them from being handcuffed into taking a player based on position alone.
That’s usually the best approach and the Bengals pulled it off beautifully. Now, they find themselves in first place in the AFC North, which is as much of a shock to anyone as it was when they passed on Sewell.