The Cincinnati Bengals will have a plethora of needs as they enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Tight end is a position that many think the Bengals will opt to improve in the draft, but for their first-round pick, there could be numerous area they target.
Offensive line is another key point, as could be safety having lost both Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell in free agency. Running back, especially if the team ends up cutting Joe Mixon, will need improving as well.
The Bengals have become a franchise that free agents want to join, and it has largely been because of their success in the draft.
Joe Burrow, Logan Wilson, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and many others have been taken by the Bengals and have instantly thrived in the Queen City. Expect that success to continue in the late-April event.
That said, let’s dive into how the national media envision the Bengals using their first-round (and potentially later rounds as well) pick.
Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame — Darnell Washington
After losing Hayden Hurst in free agency, the Bengals are in dire need of help at tight end. With Kincaid and Mayer off the board, Washington is the clear choice. At 6’7” and 264 pounds, Washington will be a mismatch nightmare in the red zone, drawing one-on-one coverage in Cincinnati.
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson — Jalin Hyatt
A wide receiver for the Bengals? IN THIS ECONOMY?
FOX Sports football writers — Michael Mayer
The Bengals signed Irv Smith but have just one other tight end under contract who is a credible pass-catcher at the position in Devin Asiasi. In Mayer, the Bengals get an NFL-ready tight end who could become an outstanding weapon for Joe Burrow alongside wideouts Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Mayer was a consensus All-American at Notre Dame and the program’s best receiver over the past two years, with back-to-back seasons of at least 65 catches and 800 receiving yards. – RJ Young
NFL.com’s Charles Davis — Emmanuel Forbes
Yes, he weighs around 170 pounds. That is a concern. But he takes the ball away (14 interceptions at Mississippi State, including an NCAA-record six pick-sixes) and is a more-than-willing tackler. Forbes fits in well with DC Lou Anarumo’s philosophy and scheme.
Athlon Sports’ Luke Easterling — Darnell Washington
Signing Irv Smith Jr. helps refill some of Cincy’s depth at tight end, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking a dynamic playmaker like Washington if he’s still on the board. He’ll help immediately in the run game as a dominant blocker thanks to his massive frame, and Washington is barely scratching the surface of his lofty potential as a pass-catcher.
Second-round selection — Michigan CB DJ Turner
Third-round selection — UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet
Fantasy Pros’ Ken Zalis — Brian Branch
The Bengals lost a bunch from their secondary. This softens the blow.
Yardbarker’s Seth Trachtman — Bijan Robinson
Running back could be at the top of Cincinnati’s needs list if they cut Joe Mixon, adding to Samaje Perine’s free agency. Robinson appears to be the top back available, with nearly 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns during the 2022 season.
Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline — Luke Musgrave
It’s a pleasant situation for the Bengals where need meets BPA at pick 28. Luke Musgrave is a legitimate downfield threat at tight end and can work the middle of the field, which will further open things up for Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins on the outside.
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer — Brian Branch
The Bengals have safety as a high priority after losing starters Jessie Bates III (Falcons) and Vonn Bell (Panthers) in free agency. Newcomer Nick Scott needs help and Branch, should he fall because of his position, would be an awesome get. Branch is a terrific natural cover man with some upside in run support, too.