The Cincinnati Bengals do have needs as they enter the 2023 NFL Draft, but they don’t have a glaring flaw that needs to be corrected.
Cornerback could be a position they target, as could linebacker or tight end. However, a position group that they were clearly thin at last year was tackle and guard, and that was tested late in the season.
Following the NFL Combine, prospects typically soar or drop in following mock drafts. One name to keep an eye on is Anton Harrison. ESPN’s Todd McShay has Harrison now as a first-round pick and being taken at No. 29 overall by Cincinnati.
“The Bengals gave up 44 sacks in 2022, which tied for 20th in the NFL. They also ranked 30th in pass block win rate at a tick above 50%. As they get set to pay quarterback Joe Burrow on a big extension, they might want to do something about reducing the hits on him. Plus, La’el Collins is returning from a torn ACL, and Jonah Williams missed time during the playoffs with a dislocated kneecap, so depth is important. Harrison is tough to shake once he’s locked on in pass protection, and he allowed just two sacks over 34 games at Oklahoma (24 starts),” McShay wrote.
Harrison is a great athlete and could certainly aid the Bengals' line. He comes in at 6-foot-5 and weighs 315 pounds. He could be the type of play that instantly start for the team as well, especially considering their shortcomings at tackle and the potential absence of 2022 free-agent signing La’el Collins, who could be a cap casualty at some point as he recovers from a torn ACL.
With Hayden Hurst, Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, Jessie Bates III, and Germaine Pratt all free agents, the Bengals could certainly opt to replace any of the three with their first-round pick instead of adding to their offensive line. But after what we saw at offensive tackle last season, you certainly can’t blame the Bengals if that’s the route they go in Round 1 when the 2023 draft kicks off.