The Cincinnati Bengals should want to re-sign Hayden Hurst this offseason.
However, many NFL mock drafts have indicated that they may plan to bring in a first-round tight end either to add to their pool of talent with Hurst in there as well or to replace the former first-round pick.
In the latest two-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft from Matt Miller, the Bengals select Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. Mayer spent three seasons with Notre Dame as one of the best tight ends in America.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound collegiate star caught 67 receptions for the Fighting Irish this season. Those went for 809 yards and nine touchdowns. His big frame should be useful both in the passing game and as a blocker.
Here is what Miller had to say on Mayer to Cincinnati.
Mayer is a throwback tight end who reminds me of T.J. Hockenson, showcasing an in-line blocking game and terrific seam game as a receiver. Mayer, who is 6-5, 235 pounds, had 67 catches for nine touchdowns in 2022 while playing in an offense without an established quarterback. And while he doesn’t have elite speed or positional versatility, the top-ranked tight end in the class is a tremendous value at this spot, especially with Hayden Hurst hitting free agency.
The Bengals may also lean more towards two tight end sets in the future if they’re unable to keep their three star receivers in the Queen City, but that will likely not be a concern for them in this upcoming draft.
The other question behind adding a tight end with such a valuable pick will be based on what happens to Hurst.
Hurst signed a one-year deal this past offseason. He went for more than 40 receiving yards in seven games this season and was instrumental in the offense, totaling 26 first downs on 62 receptions while also shining in the postseason.
Mayer would be a solid addition with or without Hurst, but the need for a playmaking tight end would become far greater if the Bengals aren’t able to retain their current key weapon.
For the second pick, Miller pegged Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Kelee Ringo.
The Bengals have three cornerbacks, including starter Eli Apple, set to hit free agency in a year in which quarterback Joe Burrow is likely to get a new deal. Ringo, who had four picks over the past two seasons, has the best physical traits of any corner in this class, but his struggles in man coverage could push him to late in Round 2.
As Miller alluded to, the Bengals could have a big shakeup in the cornerback room this offseason, and Ringo is viewed as one of the best in this year’s draft class.
Saying this, if Chidobe Awuzie recovers from his torn ACL and gets back to form, the Bengals have a great trio between Awuzie, Mike Hilton and Cam Taylor-Britt.
What do you think of this two-round projection for the Bengals? Let us know in the comments section!