We’re just over three days away from finding out who the newest Cincinnati Bengals will be. Media and fans have been speculating for far too long, but there are still many questions as to how the Bengals will attack this year’s draft. Here’s my best prediction for how the seven-rounds will play out for Cincinnati.
Round One, Pick 28: Jahmyr Gibbs – Running Back, Alabama
Look, I get the whole “no running back in the first round” conversation, but Jahmyr Gibbs can be much more than a running back. Gibbs is an electric playmaker with “see-ya” type of speed. He can catch the ball out of the backfield or operate out wide. Gibbs caught 44 passes on 52 targets, for 444 yards and three touchdowns. PFF credited Gibbs with 10.4 yards after catch per reception. The Bengals need a running back who can consistently win matchups against linebackers and safeties. Gibbs pairs perfectly with Mixon who looks likely to stay in Cincinnati for 2023.
Round Two, Pick 60: Tuli Tuipulotu – Edge Rusher, USC
Lou Anarumo and Head of College Scouting Mike Potts flew out to USC for their Pro Day, and odds are they had all eyes on Tuipulotu. The former Trojan is an energizer bunny with a relentless motor. PFF tallied 56 total pressures and 13 sacks for Tuipulotu in 2022. He does have a bit of a tackling problem with over 31% tackles missed, but that can be cleaned up at the next level. Tuipulotu would be the perfect guy opposite Joseph Ossai when Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard rotate out.
Round Three, Pick 92: Moro Ojomo – Defensive Tackle, Texas
Adding young juice to the defensive line seems to be a priority for this draft class. Ojomo is a powerful defensive tackle with pass rush upside. A four-year starter at Texas, Ojomo had 26 pressures and five sacks in 2022, with a 84.1 pass rushing grade from PFF. Ojomo is a pure three-technique and would compete with Zach Carter for rotational pass rushing snaps.
Round Four, Pick 131: Brenton Strange – Tight End, Penn State
It would be a little stunning if Strange lasted until the fourth round, but in this scenario he falls right into the Bengals lap. Strange isn’t a world beater of an athlete, and he isn’t necessarily a dominant pass catcher. But he’s a rounded tight end who does everything well. If he had more production and targets at Penn State, he would be in the conversation in the second and third rounds. He’d be the perfect developmental prospect behind Irv Smith Jr., and could develop into a long-term starter.
Round Five, Pick 163: Mekhi Garner – Cornerback, LSU
Ideally the Bengals target corner a bit earlier, but with not much value on the board they decide to wait. Cincinnati met with Garner during the pre-draft process and could be interested in the rising prospect. He’s a long corner with the ability to press with the best of them. He’s limited athletically, but Anarumo is a specialist in putting his players in the best position.
Round Six, Pick 206: Will Mallory – Tight End, Miami
Time to double dip in the tight end market, so why not roll with the athletic upside of Will Mallory. An older prospect at nearly 24-years-old, Mallory ran a 4.54 40 at 6’ 4”, 239 pounds. He had 542 receiving yards on just 42 receptions last year for the Hurricanes. Mallory would most likely be nothing more than a special teamer, but throwing a dart at one of the most athletic tight ends can’t hurt.
Round Seven, Pick 246: Tyson Bagent – Quarterback, Shepard
The Bengals are looking to upgrade their quarterback room behind Burrow. They’ve brought in several prospects for visits, as well as a few veteran free agents. Signs are pointing to a new backup quarterback and Bagent could be the guy. He has an absolute cannon and wreaked havoc at Division II Shepard University, throwing for 159 touchdowns in his four-year career.