3 Players the Bengals Can Add to Protect Joe Burrow in 2021

Max Staley
Joe Burrow has been ruled out for the season, and the Cincinnati Bengals need to ensure he's protected in 2021.
Joe Burrow has been ruled out for the season, and the Cincinnati Bengals need to ensure he's protected in 2021. / Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Joe Burrow's historic 2020 campaign has been cut short, and the NFL is worse off for it. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was showing poise beyond his years week after week, throwing interceptions at the fifth-lowest rate in the league despite leading the NFL in pass attempts. But all that volume comes at a cost, and Burrow has been the one paying the price.

The No. 1 overall pick was sacked 32 times (No. 3 in the NFL), faced 89 pressures (No. 6) and was hit 28 times (T-No. 9). The Cincinnati Bengals are going to be in contention for the next 10-plus years if they can just keep Burrow upright, but that's easier said than done behind an offensive line this shaky.

Simply put, the Bengals can't afford to keep playing Burrow behind this unit. With the team clearly in need of some upgrades, here are three players Cincinnati could add to help protect Burrow in 2021.

3. Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers

Trent Williams missed the entire 2019 campaign, but he came back with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 and hasn't skipped a beat. The 32-year-old is currently Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded tackle among all qualified players at the position. With the Bengals currently operating with top-10 cap space in 2021, Cincinnati should have no trouble throwing the bag at Williams to ink him to a deal. The only drawback is his age, but he's clearly proven he can play at a high level into his mid-30's.

2. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon Ducks

Penei Sewell is widely considered to be a generational talent at left tackle. With the top teams likely to target quarterbacks, the 20-year-old could easily fall to Burrow's team at No. 3, where the Bengals are currently slotted to pick. If he's still on the board when the Bengals are on the clock, passing on the Oregon Duck would be malpractice.

1. Joe Thuney, OG, New England Patriots

Joe Thuney is one of the best guards in football, but the New England Patriots might not have the financial flexibility to keep him with the team. If he hits the open market, the Bengals should pounce. Thuney has been a force on the interior for a Patriots' run game that has quietly become one of the best in football. He's also received a grade of at least 73.0 from PFF in each of the last four seasons, and virtually never comes off the field as a true ironman in New England. That's the kind of veteran leadership and accountability the Bengals sorely need on the offensive line. He won't come cheap, but Cincinnati can't pinch pennies when it comes to protecting one of the best assets in football.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.