The main part of free agency is over, and the 2023 NFL Draft is now less than a month away. With the signings, and player departures, some needs for the Cincinnati Bengals in the draft have been altered. With that, it is time for a new seven-round mock draft looking at what the Bengals could potentially do this April.
*Simulated mock draft using the PFF Mock Draft Simulator, no trades.
Round 1, Pick 28: Darnell Wright, Tackle, Tennessee
After signing Orlando Brown Jr. it appeared as if the Bengals had the optimal offensive line planned out as Brown would slot in at left tackle and Jonah Williams would move to right. Ultimately, that didn’t go as planned as Williams has requested a trade. Although this mock draft doesn’t include a trade, assuming the Bengals do trade him, Darnell Wright would be ideal. He is a pro-ready tackle that has played on the right side in college and would make an impact right away. Last season, Wright allowed zero sacks, and only eight total pressures over 507 pass blocking snaps. He has a very strong anchor in the pass game, and when it comes to the run game, he is quick off the line and with his athleticism gets to the second level quickly.
Round 2, Pick 6: Tucker Kraft, Tight End, South Dakota State
Michael Mayer was gone by pick 28 in round one, and the rest of the tight ends came off the board quickly. To pair with Irv Smith Jr. who is on a one-year deal, Tucker Kraft is the choice. Kraft has time and time again over his career used his 6’4, 254 pound frame to shield defenders away at the catch point as well as to be a reliable blocker. With Kraft also comes versatility, he has experience in the slot with 171 snaps, out wide with 59, and in-line with 348. The big thing with Kraft is how effortlessly he is able to gain yards after the catch, of his 1,208 career yards, 654 came after the catch. There is a lot of athletic upside with Kraft, and in this offense with Joe Burrow throwing him the ball, it would further be unlocked.
Round 3, Pick 92: Karl Brooks, Edge, Bowling Green
Waiting to add to the defensive line turns out well, as Brooks still being here is phenomenal. Brooks has routinely shown the ability to win with leverage and counter effectively if his initial punch doesn’t work. The reaction time of Brooks as well adds to his game, he locates the ball quickly and will get to where the running back is going to make a stop, as he did 99 times over his career. Against the pass, he gets into the backfield to pressure the quarterback at a great rate, as he had 160 pressures and 30 sacks as well. With Brooks also comes the versatility Lou Anarumo would be able to take advantage of, as Brooks lined up in the B-Gap 214 times, over the tackle 726 times, and outside 1,469. Being able to move him across the line and rely on him to create havoc would allow for creativity.
Round 4, Pick 131: Kobie Turner, Defensive Interior, Wake Forest
To help provide a depth boost now on the interior specifically is Turner. He is another defensive lineman who has a natural feel when it comes to working off blocks with his quick reaction time and overall instincts. Turner is also extremely flexible, which helps him work off blocks and get around defenders, pair that with his powerful hands and good placement, and he is hard to block. Turner finished his career with 103 total pressures, 14 sacks, and 85 run stops. To provide that athletic ability on the defensive interior for Cincinnati would be a great addition.
Round 5: Pick 163: Keaton Mitchell, Running Back, East Carolina
Now let’s address the running back room with a late round sleeper. Mitchell would provide a major spark on the ground with his elusive rushing ability. In 2022, Mitchell had 1,452 yards, averaged 7.2 per attempt, had 14 touchdowns, forced 75 missed tackles, and accumulated a total of 838 breakaway yards. When looking at his career as a whole, he finished with 3,009 yards, averaged 6.5 per attempt, had 25 touchdowns, only two fumbles, forced 134 missed tackles, and a total of 1,645 breakaway yards. Mitchell can stop on a dime to cutback and get to an opening as soon as he sees it, and from there will hit a second gear to burst past defenders. Mitchell is electric with the ball, and his home run rushing ability was showcased by leading the nation in 10-plus runs with 54. If Cincinnati wants a back to provide a spark alongside Joe Mixon, Mitchell is that.
Round 6: Pick 206: Carrington Valentine, Cornerback, Kentucky
The Bengals added to their cornerback room by signing Sidney Jones, but one thing that is always certain in the NFL; having too much cornerback depth doesn’t exist. At this spot, Valentine provides just that. He is physical and aggressive in his play style, jamming receivers at the line with his 32” arm length and strength, and his willingness to help against the run with his 34 run stops is also a plus. Valentine has been susceptible to double moves and will need to work on his route recognition abilities. Overall, though, starting off as depth will allow him to grow, and over time, has the potential to develop into a starter with the sticky coverage and fluidity he has shown.
Round 7, Pick 246: Tre Tucker, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati
There is Trenton Irwin, and Trent Taylor, so why not as another “Tre” to help fill out the depth at wide receiver. Tucker has shown consistently that he is a field stretcher with his quick step off the line and acceleration downfield. His short area burst allows him to create separation in congested areas over the middle of the field as well. What makes Tucker the pick here as well is his special teams value. He totaled 489 kick returns and 16 punt returns over his career. On the kick returns he accumulated 1,694 yards and two touchdowns, while on the punt returns ended up with 43 yards, and between both only muffed one over four seasons.