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DraftNerds – 2024 Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

The Bengals nearly made the playoffs with Jake Browning at the helm. They look to the 2024 Draft to fill a few needs and return as one of the top teams in the AFC

The big news for the 2023 season was Joe Burrow missing the season’s final seven weeks with a wrist injury. They lost three of their first four games, as Burrow started slow and didn’t seem himself early on. They were beaten soundly by Cleveland and Tennessee and put the team in a hole they would struggle to claw out of.

The 2023 Season

Even missing their franchise quarterback, the Bengals finished 9-8 and made a run at the playoffs. Backup Jake Browning proved a strong option, but the offense was not as explosive. Retaining him should be a priority.

The offense ranked 16th in points scored, with 21.5 points per game, and the passing game was still strong overall. The rushing offense was abysmal despite the offensive line improving. The team barely rushed for 1,500 yards and ranked 31st in the NFL.

The defense was also middle of the road, ranking 21st in points allowed per game, allowing 22.6, and the passing defense ranked in the bottom five of passing yards allowed. They did have 19 interceptions and 44 sacks and typically generated pressure consistently.

2024 Offseason Outlook

The Bengals don’t have many glaring free agents and have already franchise-tagged the critical one, Tee Higgins. Tyler Boyd, their long-time slot receiver, is nearly 30 and may leave via free agency. Corner Chidobe Awuzie is a free agent, and the Bengals should bring him back, along with offensive tackle Jonah Williams. Williams will be a tough one. He hasn’t been what the Bengals hoped, but he may not be overly expensive to retain.

The Bengals have flexibility with over $52 million in cap space, and keeping Browning while signing Higgins long-term should be the top priority. That would still leave them some options to pursue free agents if they choose. Boyd will be tough to say good-bye too, and he may want to stay with the team for less money.

The Mock Draft

1.18 Dallas Turner, EDGE Alabama

It’s not necessarily a “need,” but the Bengals would be running to the podium if this Alabama EDGE dropped to pick 18. He’s a bit smaller at 247 pounds, but he’s a tenacious pass rusher who just showcased his elite athleticism at the Combine.

Turner explodes off the line and has an elite bend, with an assortment of pass-rushing moves and the ability to convert speed to power. Simply put, he’s got no business falling this far, but if he does, the Bengals will grab the best player available.

2.49 Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE Texas

The popular buzz in the Draft sphere is that the Bengals will be trying to grab top tight end Brock Bowers in the draft. He’s not falling this far, and I doubt the Bengals move up. Not when they could potentially take Sanders in the second round or later.

The former Longhorn ran a 4.69 40-yard dash, not overwhelmingly impressive, but a strong number given his 6’4″, 245 lbs. size. He’s an impressive pass-catching TE, moving well through traffic and using his frame to box out defenders. Sanders is impressive running after the catch, with good movement skills, and he gets to top speed quickly.

3.80 Sedrick Van Pran, OL Georgia

Any time you can grab an SEC-power lineman, especially in the third round, it’s an excellent investment for your NFL franchise. Van Pran started 43 straight games at center to finish his career, and he’s got an elite explosion off the snap. He’s strong in his upper body and plays with urgency and little wasted movement. Van Pran isn’t the biggest lineman and may drop due to that.

4.116 Tyler Davis, DT Clemson

A former highly-ranked four-star prospect with a nasty first step, Davis never materialized into the star many thought he might as a Clemson Tiger. He’s got a tremendous motor and hits hard at the point of contact. Davis will push the pocket from the interior if he’s got help next to him in the NFL. Because he’s a bit ‘small’ at just over 300 pounds, and long-armed offensive linemen can swallow him up. There’s potential to develop as a strong rotational piece.

5.148 Daequan Hardy, CB Penn State

Hardy projects as a slot corner and special teamer; he’s got a knack for the ball but didn’t get a ton of reps at Happy Valley. He’s aggressive, attacks when the ball is in the air, and is not afraid to get downhill and hit. But he’s not overly athletic and is small, plus Hardy is raw and needs work on technique.

5.175 Demani Richardson, S Texas A&M

Richardson was a player who seemed to lose steam in his potential NFL value throughout his career; at one point, it looked like he may have been an early-round pick. He’s a depth safety with experience and production at the collegiate level. Richardson has versatility but plays best by keeping plays ahead of him. He is a reliable tackler. He doesn’t have the speed and explosion to keep up with receivers and running backs.

6.196 Jase McClellan, RB Alabama

At this point, and with the uncertainty of Joe Mixon’s future, why not take a shot on a back with a three-down skillset? McClellan never had a full workload at Alabama, but he runs with vision and is a smart runner. He’s a smooth runner with a decent burst but lacks top-end speed.

7.235 Ryan Flournoy, WR SE Missouri State

This small school receiver may not make it to the seventh round after destroying the Combine with a 4.44 40-yard dash, 39.5″ vertical jump, and 11’0″ broad jump. Flournoy caught 118 receptions for 1,823 yards and 13 scores over the past two seasons. At 6’1″ and 202 pounds, a team will take a flyer on him with those athletic scores and production.

7.252 Al Blades Jr., CB Duke

Blades is worth a shot this late – he’s very athletic, has good instincts, and is dangerous if he gets the ball. He anticipates routes well but can be too aggressive, drawing a flag. Blades is likely best in zone coverage but likely too aggressive to be an impactful NFL player.

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