The Cincinnati Bengals went with defense in Round 1, but they still have needs to address on the offensive side of the ball.
The Bengals will almost certainly look to add a weapon for Joe Burrow in the next few picks. Here are some great options who could still be around when the Bengals are back on the clock.
Tyjae Spears runs with purpose. He is a man on a mission in the Tulane backfield. Spears not only has great speed and agility, but he understands how to manipulate his path in the open field to throw off pursuit angles.
He is surprisingly powerful for a back who weighed in at 201 for the NFL combine and, in my opinion, probably played 10-15 pounds lighter. Spears is also an excellent receiver coming out of the backfield.
Corey Dillon. Rudi Johnson. Cedric Benson.
UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet has the vision and power that these classic Bengals running backs all had. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed that some other top running backs do but has the desired size to take a workload in the running game and take on blitzes in the passing game.
Charbonnet would be an excellent fit for the Bengals’ gap scheme and contribute as a pass catcher as well.
Slightly shocked I haven't seen more love for Zach Charbonnet over the last few weeks— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 11, 2023
He creates on his own, albeit not in the same electric way that Gibbs and Spears do, but there are some 'wow' plays with his style pic.twitter.com/2DlzphsoqZ
Israel Abanikanda is explosive. The Pitt running back scored 20 rushing touchdowns last season, including three runs of over 66 yards. The main complaint about him is his contact balance, which is to say he goes down too easily.
I believe this is something that can be fixed with coaching, and at 215, he should be able to develop into a more powerful runner. His size also gives him a high ceiling as a pass protector, giving him the potential to develop into an every-down back.
Israel Abanikanda is listed at 5'11" and 215 lbs and he's THIS fast?!?— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) February 27, 2023
He's also only 20 years old and his production profile puts him in the 88th percentile! pic.twitter.com/Ti8leJuwtF
You don’t have to look far to find the second-most complete running back in the draft after Bijan Robinson. It’s his teammate Roschon Johnson.
Johnson is not only a powerful runner with breakaway speed, but he can also catch and protect the passer. This could be key for the Bengals after losing Samaje Perine in free agency.
Johnson can fill Samaje’s role in the offense but is a more explosive player who could earn a larger workload. He also comes into the NFL with relatively fresh legs, having been a complement to Robinson at Texas.
Roschon Johnson knows a thing about picking up the tough yards between the tackles. Texas’ switch to the spread RPO offense in 2021 didn’t fit his skillset, but he never once complained. Only 392 total carries shouldn’t be seen as a red flag, he’s got fresh legs. #2023NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/R26pVS7Bba— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) April 11, 2023
TCU’s Kendre Miller gives you a good mix of power and speed. He does not go down easily and has the ability to break long runs. Miller does not read blocks particularly well and can miss cutback opportunities. This is something that can be taught and developed.
He has also limited in what he brought to the passing game, but he should be able to develop into a decent pass protector. Miller’s lack of testing due to an MCL injury in the playoffs are the biggest cause for concern, but if that checks out, he could be a good fit in Cincinnati.
The aptly named Tank Bigsby has an excellent mix of speed and power. He has the bulk and strength to power through defenders. He can also break long runs and had eight carries go for over 30 yards last season.
Bigsby has shown potential as both a receiver and a pass-blocker and could develop into a three-down back in the NFL.
When I watch Sam LaPorta I think, “This is the guy the Bengals’ offense needs.” He is a fantastic athlete who moves more like a running back than a tight end and was the only tight end in the nation to force 20 or more missed tackles last season. LaPorta runs good routes but has some problems with drops, particularly in contested situations. He is not a great blocker, but he is willing to stick his nose in these.
Still, he is known as a worker these issues could be remedied by tight ends coach James Casey.
LaPorta returned to Iowa for his senior season because it was important for him to be a team captain. The only tight end to lead the Hawkeyes in receiving two consecutive years is not George Kittle, Noah Fant, or T.J. Hockenson: it is LaPorta.
Sam LaPorta is a weapon. He lines up all over the formation from slot (112 snaps last year) to out wide. He has good hands and can run. (4.59)— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) April 10, 2023
He has great YAC (20 forced missed tackles) and is a willing blocker. He’s my TE 2 this year. #NFLdraft #NFLtwitter pic.twitter.com/d5uMTln40T
Tucker Kraft has multiple six-figure NIL offers to transfer to the likes of Alabama, but he chose to return to South Dakota State University to win a National Championship. Kraft played quarterback and running back on his 9-man high school football team, before becoming a college tight end,
Kraft is an excellent all-around player with a lot of upside. He needs to develop as a route runner but has the athletic skills to be a real force in the passing game and the power to bulldoze defenders after the catch. He is also an effective blocker both on and off the ball.
Brenton Strange doesn’t have the length that NFL teams are generally looking for at tight end, but he is a dynamic route-runner with excellent hands. Strange has experience lining up in a variety of positions in a versatile Penn State offense. He will need to improve as a blocker but brings enough to the table to be worth the effort.
Brenton Strange (TE 86) had one of the most electric TDs all of last season— Draft Guy Jared (@DraftGuyJared) March 14, 2023
And now he’s draftable pic.twitter.com/tHVVBCLA7U
Zack Kuntz is 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds and can jump out of the gym. He turned heads with his performance at the NFL Combine, making scouts drool thinking about what he could develop into. Unfortunately, his explosiveness in the workouts has not been demonstrated on the field.
Kuntz couldn’t crack the lineup at Penn State and transferred to Old Dominion. He failed to dominate at that level the way an athlete like that should. He missed half of his final season with a dislocated kneecap and only totaled 88 receptions for 862 yards and 7 touchdowns in his 18 games at ODU.
Zack Kuntz is a TE prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 10.00 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1 out of 1054 TE from 1987 to 2023. #Correction, but didn't knock him out of the top spot.https://t.co/mpZ9CLNDkc #RAS pic.twitter.com/vIUzepU1VE— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 24, 2023
Clemson’s Davis Allen could be an excellent fit for the Bengals offensively. He is not a dynamic athlete but is excellent in contested situations and shows great ball skills. He has never dropped more than one pass in a single season.
Allen spent a lot of time spread out as a wide receiver and will need to develop as a blocker, but shows promise in this area. He was a team captain and never missed a game due to injury. Allen could really thrive in the Bengals' offense.
Jonathan Mingo screams, Bengals’ receiver. The Ole Miss standout has a knack for making explosive plays, despite not being particularly good at getting separation. Mingo finds himself in a lot of contested situations, but he has the physical traits to come down with the ball. He weighs 220 and is an enthusiastic blocker.
Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo gains outside leverage with a subtle jab step against Xavier McKinney, then makes a nice adjustment on the ball to haul in the contested-catch for the touchdown. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/wlDnWieFOT— WBG84 (@WBG84) April 16, 2023
Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry would add yet another deep threat to an already potent Bengals offense. He has the speed to get open on vertical routes versus man coverage and the awareness to find openings against zone coverages.
A.T. Perry continues to be one of my favorite day two players.— Rob G (@NFL_Rob) April 14, 2023
Deep threat with better route nuance then get’s credit for. Watch the burst release and break point on this post. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/4egR15QB6y
Xavier Hutchinson is an excellent athlete and an even better route-runner who has been extremely productive for the Iowa State Cyclones. He has played largely on the outside, but projects as a versatile player who could take over for Tyler Boyd in the slot someday, as well as contributing as an outside receiver.
Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson is one of the best route-runners in this class. Uses sudden, quick movements to consistently uncover and beat press coverage. Pretty rare fluidity for a WR listed at 6-3. pic.twitter.com/z4WcvKJxpb— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 23, 2023
Adding the 6-foot-8 374 Dawand Jones opposite the 6-foot-8 345-pound Orlando Brown Jr. would certainly change the look of the Bengals' offensive line. The Ohio State tackle is a monster who gets movement and is surprisingly light on his feet in the run game.
His pass sets are a bit limited, but his bulk and length make up for that. Of course, his size could also be an issue, which is why Brown could be an excellent mentor for him on and off the field.
dawand jones is from outer space. guys build like condominiums shouldn't be able to move like this pic.twitter.com/8HDmI5hCSe— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) April 13, 2023
Nick Saldiveri played right tackle and guard at Old Dominion and shows the tools to be able to compete for a starting role at either spot. He is 6-foot-6, 318, and moves very well.
He has some glass eater in his game and knows how to finish blocks. Saldiveri needs to clean up some technique issues, particularly with his balance and hand placement in the run game, but these are things that can be taught.
Late to the party on Old Dominion OT Nick Saldiveri (RT, no. 64). But he is a very advanced pass protector with great range/foot speed, balance, strong hand usage, and is a sound positional run blocker.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 12, 2023
Would expect Saldiveri to be a late third, early fourth-rounder. pic.twitter.com/WuWMP4ADNw
The Bengals could look to add a third Oklahoma tackle with Wanya Morris. He has a strong anchor in the passing game and is a finisher in the run game. Morris has the requisite size and athletic ability but can be a bit inconsistent with his technique.
If Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack can get that area of his game right, Morris could be a force at the right tackle position.
If I were going to describe Georgia right tackle Warren McClendon in one word, it would be “reliable,” which is exactly what you want in an offensive lineman. He is much more consistent than other prospects. He has good feet and excellent anchor.
McClendon latches on to blocks and is unrelenting. He could be the answer the Bengals are looking for at right tackle.
Warren McClendon (RT #70) is a top 5 OT in this class and you won't convince me otherwise. pic.twitter.com/mNNMw0KXRA— Parker Blake (@ParkerBlake60) March 31, 2023
BYU tackle Blake Freeland is very raw, but at 6-foot-7, 302, and running a 4.98 40, he has a lot of potential. He has the prototypical size and athletic ability but struggles with technique and leverage. He is probably not a guy who is going to come in and win the job in camp, but he could develop into something special.