Bengals win big in new 2-round 2023 NFL mock draft
The Cincinnati Bengals have the feel of a team that could go many different ways in the 2023 NFL draft.
Given the status of the current roster and some long-term drafting in recent years, the Bengals could easily settle for best player available at No. 28.
Tight end and cornerback are two of those spots the Bengals could address, which is exactly what happens in a new mock draft from ESPN’s Matt Miller, where the team uses its first-rounder on Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer:
“The first of a loaded tight end group comes off the board as the Bengals look to develop an inside passing game to complement the outside talent assembled in Cincinnati. Mayer is a throwback tight end who reminds me of T.J. Hockenson, showcasing an in-line blocking game and terrific seam game as a receiver. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Mayer had 67 catches for nine touchdowns in 2022 while playing in an offense without an established quarterback. And while he doesn’t have elite speed or positional versatility, the top-ranked tight end in the class is a tremendous value at this spot, especially with Hayden Hurst hitting free agency.”
The Bengals follow that up with the 60th pick in Round 2 by taking Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo.
Mayer, who has scored 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons, might be a way for the team to replace impending free agent Hayden Hurst (and/or Drew Sample). The offense could probably use a better combination of receiving-blocking skills at the position and Mayer might just offer it.
Notably, Miller writes that Ringo struggles in man coverage. But cornerback depth is a serious concern behind starters Chidobe Awuzie (coming back from injury), Cam Taylor-Britt and Mike Hilton, so it sure doesn’t hurt to grab major upside.
If this is the team’s approach after upgrading offensive line depth and pass-rush in free agency, it will flirt with an A grade right after the draft.
Stay or go: Predicting the fates of Bengals free agents in 2023