The Cincinnati Bengals finished the season 9-8. Good enough to make the playoffs in the NFC but it gets you a last-place finish in the AFC South.
Backup QB Jake Browning played exceptionally for the most part down the stretch. However, the Bengals defense, a strength the past two seasons, let them down. With a healthy Joe Burrow, they likely make the playoffs but I am not sure how much advancement they make with the defense.
Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 2024 (2.0)
So with that being said it is time to start looking toward the future. They will pick 18th in the first round and move up 1 spot in each of the subsequent four rounds.
There are many ways the Cincinnati Bengals could attack the draft. They will likely have a need for a wide receiver. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are entering their contracts’ final year. If Higgins isn’t re-signed or given the franchise tag, do they re-sign Boyd? Do they let them both go? If it’s the latter you are definitely attacking that position early.
Right tackle Jonah Williams is also entering the last year of his deal. The offensive tackle position has plenty of intriguing options in round one.
Offensive and defensive line depth needs to be addressed as well.
The Bengals also need an interior pass rush and a succession plan for nose tackle DJ Reader.
The position depth of this class doesn’t necessarily add up to what the Cincinnati Bengals’ biggest needs are.
We will use the current draft order from the simulator created by our good friends over at Mock Draft Database.
The Cincinnati Bengals are projected to receive two comp picks for the 2024 NFL Draft. This is in addition to their normal seven draft picks.
1-18: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State
One has to believe that Jonah Williams will not be back. So, the Bengals will have to get a band-aid right tackle in free agency. Or attack it early in the draft. Fuaga was a stud on the left side for Oregon State this year and shouldn’t have any issue being a plug-and-play right tackle.
Other players I would consider here (if they fall) are Illinois DL Jer’Zahn Newton or Georgia TE Brock Bowers.
2-49: Byron Murphy, DL, Texas
Murphy can give Cincinnati an interior pass rush that they desperately need. He has great power in his core and arms. Murphy would pair well in a rotation with B.J. Hill and potentially D.J. Reader (if he re-signs).
3-79: Mekhi Wingo, DL, LSU
Wingo is an upside selection as the Bengals double-dip at the interior defensive line. Neither is a pure nose tackle replacement for Reader.
4-115: Jacob Cowing, WR, Arizona
I debated whether the Cincinnati Bengals feel like they have a replacement for Tyler Boyd already in-house. They selected Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas in the 2023 NFL Draft. They both saw plenty of action this season, along with Trenton Irwin. However, as a prospect, Cowing has good speed and creates massive amounts of separation with his route running.
5-147: Johnny Dixon, CB, Penn State
Cornerback depth is needed behind D.J. Turner and Cam Taylor-Britt. This especially rings true if Chidobe Awuzie is not brought back. They could also add some nickel depth behind Mike Hilton who is entering the final year of his deal.
I could actually see them attacking corner on day two if the board falls to them.
5-174: Joshua Gray, OL, Oregon State
Another depth piece on the offensive line. Gray started at right tackle for Oregon State but can play guard as well.
6-195: Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire
McCaffrey-lite is the best way to describe Dylan Laube. He is one of the best all-purpose backs in college football. Laube could give the Bengals a true third-down back with upside to help in the return game.
7-234: Tory Taylor, P, Iowa
It was not the best of rookie seasons for Brad Robbins. Could they bring in another draft pick to challenge him? Would they use a draft pick on a punter back-to-back years? I am not necessarily advocating for this but Taylor is the best punter in this class.
7-251: Austin Booker, EDGE, Kansas
Booker is a high-upside pass rusher. This would likely be a lottery ticket type of pick. or at the very least a draft-and-stash on the practice squad.
I will return with another Cincinnati Bengals mock draft prior to the 2024 NFL Draft.