The Cincinnati Bengals are in a great spot entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
While some needs, like offensive line or tight end, could be more significant based on how NFL free agency plays out, the Bengals won’t be strapped to a specific group of players. That means mock draft season has been enjoyable thus far with Cincinnati being linked to many names across the board.
While tight ends are typically the ones taken by Cincinnati with pick No. 28, NFL.com draft guru Lance Zierlein has another idea — an explosive interior pass rusher. He has the Bengals taking Calijah Kancey at No. 28.
“Let’s step outside of the box here. Kancey is right at 280 pounds but is ridiculously explosive with A+ rush talent. He can’t play every down, but he can impact games from the interior,” Zierlein wrote.
Kancey is a redshirt junior by way of the Pittsburgh Panthers. He is a defensive tackle and could be useful given how many snaps DJ Reader and B.J. Hill have had to account for in the interior. Having a guy like Kancey would keep them fresher for the whole season.
The explosive 6-foot, 280-pound Kancey had 31 tackles, 14.5 of which were for a loss last season. He also totaled 7.5 sacks. As Zierlein wrote, his motor may not be there, but his explosive should create an immediate impact for the Bengals' defensive line.
Adding more excitement to this potential pick is Zierlein’s scouting report of Kancey, which includes a comparison to NFL legend John Randle. Like Randle, Kancey is undersized for a defensive tackle but still thrives as a pass rusher, and you can’t have enough good pass rushers in today’s NFL.
“He’s a nightmare for offenses as a pass rusher,” Zierlein said of Kancey. “His twitchy feet can slide and reset points of attack. His leverage and motor are often too much for guards to handle alone. Kancey might be most effective as a rotational run defender and full-time, sub-package rusher, but his size will not define him in the NFL.”
With three tight ends already off the board in this mock draft, it is ideal for the Bengals to snag a talent like Kancey instead of automatically taking the best tight end or offensive lineman on the board. Kancey looks like someone who can tremendously aid the Bengals' defense front.
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