Since the Cincinnati Bengals' biggest move at the tight end position in free agency was signing the oft-injured Irv Smith, there is still a big need at tight end. They did bring back Drew Sample, though, so he can get in on the blocking snaps and hopefully stay healthy this year.
Regardless, it is a big need, so let’s take a look at five prospects the Bengals should be considering.
1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
There is a lot for the Bengals to like about Michael Mayer. He produced at a young age and produced well. He was really the lone bright spot on the Notre Dame offense, which he won’t have to be in Cincinnati. He is a local product who grew up a Bengals fan which is always a nice story. He tested not elite but at least above average. The biggest obstacle is going to be him going before the Bengals pick, which seems likely. Weirder things have happened, and the Bengals will likely be ecstatic if he makes it to 28.
2. Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Even more than Mayer, Kincaid has an argument to be the top receiving tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is a willing, but not great blocker though, so if the team needs an in-line tight end, he is not the best fit. If they are willing to get creative with him, he could be one of the best tight ends in the league when all is said and done. Like Mayer, he likely doesn’t make it to 28, but he has other red flags as well. He had a back injury that kept him from testing, although he likely would’ve tested well, and he is an old prospect.
3. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Musgrave is an intriguing option because you are betting almost exclusively on potential. His first few years in college, he was not a very high producer and got mostly used as a blocker. His final year, the team finally seemed to have realized how much of a freak athlete they had on their hands, and he was used heavily the first two games before being knocked out the rest of the season with injuries. Now his college injuries were not the repeating type, so there is still reason to bet on him staying healthy, but either way, there is a lot of projection based on athleticism and two college games. The size and athleticism mixed with the highlights suggest a sky-high ceiling. If he falls to 60, he should be the move.
4. Darnell Washington, Georgia
I almost didn’t put Washington on this list, opting to put Tucker Kraft instead, however, I opted to keep Washington. A monster of a human being with some highlight reel blocks in space, he also tested as an elite athlete. He was never much of a receiver in college, looking incredibly stiff running route and adjusting to the ball. Washington is the traditional inline tight end prospect who blocks half of the time and can go out and catch the ball occasionally. With his athleticism, there is room to grow, and I believe he can do more, but with the Bengals' spread attack, he does not seem like a fit. With the right value, he is someone the Bengals should consider.
5. Sam LaPorta, Iowa
The closer we get to the Draft, the more likely it feels that LaPorta is gone before pick 60. His stock just keeps going up, which shouldn’t be too surprising for a tight end coming from Iowa. Stop me if you have heard this before: an undersized tight end from Iowa was underutilized in their offense. LaPorta is another player you are banking on the flashes, which were pretty good in LaPorta’s case. He tested like an elite athlete, and while he is undersized, he was more than willing as a blocker in college. If he makes it to 60, he should be under consideration for the Bengals.
Let us know in the comments what tight end you want the Bengals to draft. Is there one not on the list you are a fan of?