The 2023 NFL Draft is this week! Each team has started to narrow down their draft boards and should know roughly which positions are the top ones for them. Typically, the first three rounds are the most important with getting the prospects that will be immediate impact players. Heading into the draft, these are the top three positions that should be on the Cincinnati Bengals checklist to address in the first three rounds.
It is time the Bengals got long-term stability at the tight end position and provide Joe Burrow with a playmaker there. Now they did bring in Irv Smith Jr. during free agency, but with his injury history, adding another top tight end early is ideal. Not only should the Bengals be looking for someone that can elevate the position from a downfield vertical threat standpoint, but also provide a blocking aspect at the same time to provide that dual ability when on the field. Outside of Smith, there is also Tanner Hudson, Drew Sample, and Devin Asiasi, but none are signed beyond this year. All in all, getting the tight end of the future for the team is something that needs to be addressed in this draft, and early.
Potential Fits: Michael Mayer, Tucker Kraft, Sam LaPorta, Zack Kuntz
There is the looming trade request from Jonah Williams, and even if he is back, the competition for the starting tackle spot is La’el Collins who is coming off a torn ACL and MCL, or Cody Ford. The depth on the offensive line has held the team back now in the postseason for two consecutive seasons, so even if Williams returns, adding someone else behind him would make sure that doesn’t happen again. While offensive linemen typically take a bit to adjust to the NFL with the new blocking schemes they have to learn, there is also a steep decline in the number of tackles that can play on the right side in this draft. That automatically makes this a priority to get sorted out if the Bengals decide to go with a rookie right tackle to help protect Joe Burrow. Orlando Brown was a great start towards solidifying their left tackle spot, but that right tackle spot is now what needs to be a focal point to address.
Potential Fits: Darnell Wright, Matthew Bergeron, Blake Freeland, Wanya Morris
After getting a young cornerback in Cam Taylor-Britt last season to start to bring in new talent for the secondary, it should be a main objective once again. Chidobe Awuzie will be returning from his injury, but he is also on an expiring contract. If they can’t retain him, drafting a starting caliber cornerback that can either play in a pinch or develop more for a season is what Cincinnati typically likes to do to get ahead on things. There are plenty of cornerbacks within the first three rounds that fit the cornerback mold for the Bengals. While it is a deep class with high upside cornerback prospects, getting a prospect within the first three rounds is something the team should heavily consider again.
Possible Picks: Emmanuel Forbes, Tyrique Stevenson, Julius Brents, Clark Phillips, Garrett Williams, Cory Trice