The addition of four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. will have a rippling effect on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2023 NFL Draft plans. And the fact that former left tackle Jonah Williams wants out of Cincinnati should really help solidify their strategy.
Of course, it helps that the Bengals’ top need at this point is probably going to be at cornerback, and there just happens to be a pretty good one available at a spot where, with a little work, Cincinnati might be able to get him.
The Jacksonville Jaguars own the No. 24 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and one of their major needs is along the offensive line. So how about a trade with the Jaguars - Jonah Williams and Cincinnati’s No. 28 pick in exchange for Jacksonville’s No. 24 selection?
No. 24. Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Banks has ideal size for the position. Throw in his 4.35 40 at the NFL Combine, along with a 42-inch vertical jump and a 136-inch broad jump, and you have the combination of size and athleticism that can make Banks a presence early. He has experience in a wide range of coverages, which fits the Bengals’ profile, and has the strength to be an asset in the running game.
Banks made an instant impact for the Terrapins, playing in 11 games as a freshman. As a senior, he saw action in 12 games and finished with 29 tackles, six assists, nine pass breakups, an interception and an impressive quarterback rating when targeted of 71.4.
No. 60. Mazi Smith, IOL, Michigan
After not receiving much playing time in his first two seasons, Smith started all 14 games as a junior for the Wolverines in 2021 and wound up being named honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference with 37 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and four pass breakups). He followed that up with 48 tackles, 2.5 for loss, in 14 starts as a senior and was selected first-team All-Big Ten.
Despite skipping the on-field drills at the 2023 NFL Combine, the 6-3, 337-pound Smith showed off his brute strength by putting up 34 repetitions at 225 pounds on the bench press and outdistancing all of his competitors. He has been compared to a young D.J. Reader, which should give all Bengals’ fans cause to celebrate his potential selection.
A possible red flag reared its head in October when Smith was stopped for speeding and subsequently arrested for possessing a concealed weapon without a valid license. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to probation.
No. 92, Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Sam LaPorta follows a long list of successful tight ends to come out of Iowa, a list that includes Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and George Kittle. Even more impressive is the fact that LaPorta finished his college career with more receptions and yards than any tight end in school history.
At 6-4 and 249 pounds and with a 4.59 40 under his belt, LaPorta is a dangerous threat as a receiver. He was third among all tight ends in yards after the catch this past season, and his 20 broken tackles led all tight ends.
LaPorta is willing but inconsistent as a blocker but has the potential to improve.