The tight end position has been a strange one for a few seasons now. Ever since Tyler Eifert’s incredible 2015 season, the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t gotten too much production from that position in the passing game.
That changed a bit when they added Hayden Hurst last season, who could have had a pretty decent season if not for injuries. However, going into the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bengals could be eyeing an even bigger upgrade from this deep tight end class.
Cincinnati met with arguably the top four tight ends in the draft while they are in Indianapolis for the scouting combine, according to Malik Wright of TWSN. Those names included Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, Darnell Washington, and Sam Laporta. All of these players have different strengths and weaknesses that could evolve what the Bengals currently have on offense.
Mayer clearly sticks out as the top tight end. He is the most well-rounded tight end as far as having the pass-catching skills to be a matchup nightmare and being able to hold his own as a blocker.
Kincaid and Laporta also come in as fine additions to the passing game. Kincaid has more of that being able to out-leap defenders on contested passes than Laporta, but both have their struggles as a blocker. Especially when projected to the NFL level.
The player who doesn’t have concerns with blocking is Washington. He could have a 10-minute highlight reel filled with him dominating as a run blocker. He is reliable in the passing game, but coming in as a rookie isn’t going to have anyone mistaking him for a guy like Mark Andrews.
Tight end could be the call in Round 1, but some of these names are likely to be there in the second round as well. Maybe even the third since the class is so deep even beyond these four. Any one of these four could easily end up being a starter for a team for years to come, and the Bengals could certainly use a cheap option to help sustain their passing game dominance.