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Tyjae Spears Titans

Bengals 7-Round Mock Draft 2023: April Edition

  • Jack McKessy
  • April 4, 2023
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After a 2021 push to the Super Bowl that some considered a “Cinderella” run, the Cincinnati Bengals looked like bona fide Super Bowl contenders once again in 2022. Quarterback Joe Burrow is as legit as it comes and their contention window truly might be his whole career.

However, the Bengals will need to take care of some retooling this offseason after several of their top players on both sides of the ball—particularly in their defensive secondary—hit free agency. Tight end Hayden Hurst is gone, and so are safeties Von Bell and Jessie Bates III. There’s also the looming possibility that wide receiver Tee Higgins bolts in free agency as the Bengals start planning extensions for Burrow and fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the near future. 

For Cincinnati to keep their contention window open in 2023, this is what their draft could look like with all seven of their original picks.

Round 1 (No. 29 overall): Darnell Washington TE, Georgia

For a team that has as talented a wide receiver trio as Cincinnati does—Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd—it’s easy to overlook how good their tight ends have been in recent years. C.J. Uzomah and Hurst were a couple of great pass-catching options outside of the lead receiving trio in the last two seasons, and Uzomah especially was a solid blocker.

With Uzomah in New York and Hurst in Carolina, the Bengals could use a sturdy replacement at tight end. Washington would bring youth to the position and be a great pass-catching weapon and extra blocker for the Bengals’ offense, even if he starts out as a TE2 behind free agency addition Irv Smith Jr.

Round 2 (No. 61 overall): Kyu Blu Kelly CB, Stanford

Cincinnati has a very solid starting trio of cornerbacks on their roster in Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Cam Taylor-Britt, who’s coming off of a very solid rookie season. The team also added Sidney Jones IV in free agency to keep up the depth behind them with free agents Eli Apple and Tre Flowers still unsigned.

The Bengals still need more depth. Hilton is under contract for a couple more years but Awuzie, coming off of a torn ACL, and Jones will hit free agency after 2023. Kelly was fantastic in man coverage during his time with the Cardinal, and the ball production skills he’d bring to the Bengals would be a big addition to a secondary that just lost some of their best ballhawks in the secondary.

Round 3 (No. 93 overall): Jammie Robinson SAF, Florida State

The Bengals seem to be poised to have second-year defensive back Dax Hill take over the free safety spot with Bates gone and just added former Rams safety Nick Scott to pair with him. So the biggest selling point in drafting someone like Robinson in the third round is the versatility he offers to provide depth at a variety of positions in the secondary. 

Robinson primarily played free safety for the Seminoles but can line up as a strong safety, nickel, and even linebacker. The high motor Robinson plays with means he’s rarely out of a play, and he’s a physical yet reliable tackler wherever he plays.

Round 4 (No. 132 overall): Tyjae Spears RB, Tulane

Backup running back Samaje Perine departed for Denver in free agency, leaving the Bengals without much backfield depth behind Joe Mixon. Chris Evans is slated to be their number two back after playing just 18 snaps on offense in 2022, and practice squad call-up Trayveon Williams is all that’s behind Evans. 

Spears can be that complementary back Perine was for the Bengals and Mixon over his three and a half years in Cincinnati. He’s a super quick and agile back with phenomenal vision that combine to make him incredibly hard to tackle. Spears also proved from his Senior Bowl showing that he has the skills necessary to contribute in the passing game as well.

Round 5 (No. 165 overall): Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR, West Virginia

Higgins might be gone after this coming season, and the Bengals will need a receiver on the outside to replace him if that’s the case. Ford-Wheaton was one of this year’s Shrine Bowl standouts with great size and ball skills at 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds. He also brings surprising speed to the table at his size and profiles as the developmental starting “X” receiver that would be perfect depth in year one and a potentially strong replacement for Higgins.

Round 6 (No. 208 overall): Tavius Robinson EDGE, Ole Miss

It’s not too surprising that a team that finished in the bottom four in team sacks in 2022 was also one of the worst teams by pass-rushing win rate, according to ESPN. Robinson has the height, length, and athleticism necessary to develop into an effective pass rusher at the next level, especially if he can add some mass to his lean frame and build up some functional strength. He’d provide good depth behind defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard in year one.

Round 7 (No. 240 overall): Nick Broeker OL, Ole Miss

The Bengals learned the hard way how important depth on the offensive line is at the end of their 2022 season. The one lineman who managed to make it through the whole year was left guard Cordell Volson, so if his injury luck runs out in 2023, Broeker can provide some extra depth at that spot. 

Broeker lacks the traditional length to play left tackle and kicked inside to guard during the 2022 season, but he has experience playing outside and can play left tackle in a pinch should splash free agent signing Orlando Brown have to miss any time. The reliable Ole Miss product never missed a game due to injury over his three years starting for the Rebels.

Written By

Jack McKessy