Bengals take OT Mims as protection for Burrow

Published 7:07 pm Saturday, April 27, 2024

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals, seeking an offensive tackle who can play in front of franchise quarterback Joe Burrow for years to come, chose huge Georgia tackle Amarius Mims in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.

The 6-foot-8, 340-pound Mims, a gifted pass protector, played seven games and suffered a high ankle sprain that required surgery in his third year at Georgia in 2023.

The Bengals lost tackle Jonah Williams to Arizona in free agency. They have Orlando Brown Jr. on the left side. They signed 10-year veteran Trent Brown to a one-year contract to play on the right side, but at 31 he’s not seen as a long-term solution.

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“We were excited he was there at 18,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said. “We think we’re a great fit for him, with acquiring Trent and having Orlando there to help with his processing as he comes to the NFL. His traits are immeasurable, if you’ve ever seen him walk through a door. There’s a lot there to work with that we’re really excited about.”

Mims is seen by some draft analysts as a bit of a project because of his relative lack of playing time at Georgia (803 snaps in three years), but they believe the 21-year-old Cochran, Georgia, native can eventually slot in at right tackle and keep the oft-sacked Burrow upright more often. Burrow has been sacked an average of nearly three times a game in four NFL seasons.

Burrow was lost for the remainder of last season when he tore a ligament in his throwing hand on a touchdown pass in the 10th game. He expects to be ready for the 2024 season.

Offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher said Mims likely slipped in the draft because he started only eight games during his time at Georgia.

“Had he played the whole season the way he played in the tape we saw, there’s a very low chance that we even have the opportunity to pick him,” said Pitcher, who was promoted after Brian Callahan was hired as the head coach by the Titans.

“We didn’t set out to do this but the way it played out makes us look brilliant,” Taylor quipped.

The Bengals hadn’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since they took Jonah Williams with the 11th overall pick in 2019.

Having taken a large O-lineman, the Bengals could look for an interior defensive lineman or a receiver in upcoming rounds. They have nine more picks in the draft.

They had their eye on Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga, who was chosen by the New Orleans Saints with the 14th pick, and Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II, taken by Seattle with the 16th pick.