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Draft Nerds – Cincinnati Bengals 2023 NFL Mock Draft

@DarthDbacks provides a mock draft filled with analysis on the Cincinnati Bengals after their sad playoff loss and what their needs are

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will always think about all aspects of the dynasty season. Managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge. This article is about the Cincinnati Bengals, who are seeking revenge on the Kansas City Chiefs and to get back to the Super Bowl after a loss in the playoffs last year. The Bengals will have some new additions on their offensive line and a terrific trio of weapons on offense for this year. But can they repair their defense and acquire even more weapons for Joe Burrow?

Most of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage in April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those that prepare will not be surprised at the outcomes. Look at the Chiefs or Eagles. They have a ton of depth. This allowed them to outlast the rest of the competition and compensate for any injuries.

The draft order used in this article reflects the order following the Super Bowl. Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to The Draft Network. Team needs are generated from this site.

2022 Season Recap

The Cincinnati Bengals had another great season, even if they didn’t achieve their goal of getting back to the Super Bowl. They had plenty of Pro Bowlers and saw Burrow continue his rise in the quarterback hierarchy. The Bengals won the AFC North despite many long-term injuries to Ja’Marr Chase, Chidobe Awuzie, La’el Collins, Jonah Williams, Tee Higgins, and other key contributors. Coach Zac Taylor led his team strong and proved that 2021 wasn’t a fluke. In fact, had the team had better blocking or not committed too many penalties in the AFC Championship, they could’ve been the AFC team in the Super Bowl. Their defense solidified down the stretch and won the Bengals multiple games, including their playoff victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Time will tell if the defense can remain solid into the future. Either way, the Bengals are well-set to continue their success with Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase returning, even with Burrow’s much-ballyhooed extension on tap.

2023 Free Agents

The Cincinnati Bengals had a massive exodus of free agents leave their team in the offseason. Chief among them was their starting tight end Hayden Hurst and both backups, Devin Asiasi and Drew Sample. Hurst leaves a massive hole in their offense due to how much Burrow targeted him, especially in the red zone. They did sign Irv Smith Jr, but he isn’t enough and hasn’t stayed healthy or productive in multiple years. The Cincinnati Bengals were able to keep starting linebacker Germaine Pratt to avoid having a hole in their linebacker room. Yet, they did lose Eli Apple and Tre Flowers to free agency, creating a need at cornerback. However, the Cincinnati Bengals’ biggest need is at safety after they saw both starters, Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III, leave for new teams. They signed Nick Scott but still need a quality starting safety.

The Bengals lost backup running back Samaje Perine and have yet to determine if they’re cutting Joe Mixon. At least the Cincinnati Bengals were able to bring in a new left tackle in Orlando Brown Jr., who can take over for the oft-injured Jonah Williams. Now, Williams can slide to right tackle, assuming the Bengals don’t honor his trade request. The team also brought back wide receiver Trent Taylor and signed guard Cody Ford to replenish some offensive depth. Most of the team’s free agents were on defense, which means the 2023 draft should focus on that side of the ball.

2023 Draft Picks

The team needs are depth at defensive tackle, a young tight end that can block, safeties galore, another cornerback that can play inside or outside, running back depth, and a deep wide receiver threat. Other needs that would be nice are a right tackle if Collins isn’t ready, and they do deal Williams and more offensive line depth in general.

1.28 – Luke Musgrave, TE Oregon State

Yes, the Bengals just brought in Irv Smith, but he’s no one’s ideal TE1, and in such a deep tight end draft class, the Bengals would be wise to snag one. Here, they get the third tight end in the first round, who might have the highest potential in the draft class. Luke has the elite route running and fluid hips/feet that allow him to gain great separation despite average speed. Plus, he’s a technique-sound blocker that can cut off edges and knows how to block in space. Musgrave has the upside to be an even better Dallas Goedert or perhaps a Travis Kelce someday. If the Bengals can get a great receiving option at tight end for Joe Burrow to throw to, it just elevates that Bengals offense so much higher and helps Burrow have a safety outlet aside from Chase.

2.60 – Antonio Johnson, S Texas A&M

Johnson would be the perfect fit to replace Vonn Bell in the Bengals defense opposite Dax Hill. He’s got great size and loves playing near the line of scrimmage. He’s a tough tackler that will routinely attack ball carriers. Plus, he brings excellent versatility as he’s able to play in the slot, box, or deep and can cover tight ends. He has the potential to be a plus-starter and can start immediately in Lou Anarumo’s defense. The Bengals would now have their two young safeties to replace the two franchise guys who left in free agency.

3.92 – Wanya Morris, T Oklahoma

The Cincinnati Bengals created a good problem for themselves when they signed Orlando Brown as their new left tackle. This pushes Jonah Williams to right tackle, but he has requested a trade. If the team can figure out how to keep him, the need at right tackle can wait a year, but if he truly gets dealt, they need a new one, as Collins likely isn’t healthy in time for the season. That’s where Morris comes in, who can be the long-term answer at right tackle for the Bengals. He’s an athletic tackle with elite size and very strong hands. The issues are all technique based, but that can be fixed with proper NFL coaching. Overall, Wanya can provide valuable depth at both tackle spots and perhaps be a starter on Day 1.

4.131 – Riley Moss, CB Iowa

The Bengals need further depth at cornerback, especially with Awuzie coming off a torn ACL. The cornerback group in this draft is extremely deep, allowing the Bengals to wait to snag a guy with starting potential in the fourth round. Moss fits into Anarumo’s favorite style of cornerback, a long, tall, and fast defensive back. Plus, he’s snagged 11 interceptions in his career at Iowa, another trademark quality that Lou loves. Moss is an experienced corner that plays physically and fast. he even has the potential to move to safety which only increases his versatility and appeal.

5.163 – Colby Wooden, DT Auburn

Colby is a veteran college player that plays far older than his age. Perhaps that’s due to how much he was on the field with the Tigers, but it will help him get on the field with the Bengals. The Bengals need more depth at defensive tackle as BJ Hill and DJ Reader are getting older, and their contracts are close to ending. Wooden’s a versatile DT with great speed and the ability to work inside or outside. He’s able to pound the offensive line and eat up lines. If the Bengals can snag Wooden, they’d gain a player that could provide great depth at multiple positions of need.

6.206 – Dontay Demus Jr., WR Maryland

Demus is a developmental wide receiver prospect with elite size that the Cincinnati Bengals could take advantage of. He’s got massive length and stands at 6’3″, which allows him to be a great jump-ball receiver. Dontay is not great against press coverage but can tear apart zone coverages. Plus, his best routes are the deeper ones that allow him to use his long strides to gain separation. He could be the huge deep threat that can take some pressure off Chase and Higgins. If the Bengals can develop his route running and hand usage, he could become a starter down the line.

7.246 – Evan Hull, RB Northwestern

The future of Mixon is mysterious, and he could become a cap casualty. Regardless, the Bengals need more depth in the running back room after Perine left in free agency. Hull does everything well, but nothing he does is overwhelming or excellent. He’s a strong contact runner that maintains his strength and balance. Hull’s a great route runner and pass-catcher with excellent hands. Despite his size, he’s not afraid of contact and willing to rush north-south. Plus, he’s got good speed. He’d be a quality backup to the aging Mixon.

Want the new-look Nerds App or free access and help on Discord? Join the NerdHerd! Do you want to become the best dynasty player you can be? Be sure to use my promo code “Darth” for 15% OFF your subscription to Dynasty Nerds! It makes it only three dollars or so! Connect with me on Twitter @DarthDbacks. I love to talk football, baseball, movies, shows, Star Wars, and Marvel, and interact with the fantasy football community. For more articles of mine, click here.

As always, May the Force be with you…

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