Mock Draft: How the picks could shake out for the Bengals

Credit: Barry Reeger

Credit: Barry Reeger

The Cincinnati Bengals set themselves up well for the NFL Draft with a productive start to free agency.

After filling some key holes with veteran additions at tight end, running back, right tackle, defensive tackle and safety, the Bengals now can zone in on a couple specific needs for the future. They do still need another run-stopping defensive tackle and a slot receiver to replace Tyler Boyd, but with a deep receiver pool in this draft class, they should have some flexibility with their first-round pick.

Cincinnati also needs an offensive tackle to develop for the future with Trent Brown only signed to a one-year contract and another cornerback to add to the mix after the departure of Chidobe Awuzie. Tight end and running back depth also is a concern, but the Bengals have plenty of draft capital with 10 picks over seven rounds.

Here’s a seven-round Bengals-only mock draft put together using the simulator based on their analysts’ “Big Board,” set to consider needs more and positional value less and excluding randomness and trades.


Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State OT

The simulator had Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy going No. 8 overall to Atlanta, but if he somehow falls and is still available, that would be an ideal pick for the Bengals. If he’s not available and Fashanu is, that seems a safe bet. Alabama’s JC Latham also could be an option. Fashanu is not only incredibly talented but still also has a lot of upside as one of the youngest players in the draft pool.

Cincinnati lost the last offensive lineman the organization took in the first round with Jonah Williams (2019 No. 11 overall pick) signing with Arizona as a free agent earlier this month. Jackson Carman, a second-round pick in 2021, has not panned out as expected, so it’s probably time to invest in that position again with a Day 1 or 2 pick.


Ricky Pearsall, Florida WR

Cincinnati probably should take the best defensive tackle on the board here, but in three of the last four election years, the Bengals have drafted a wide receiver in the second round (Tee Higgins in 2020, Tyler Boyd in 2016, Jerome Simpson in 2008), so it seems they are destined to get their next slot receiver here.

There is enough depth in this draft class, they could wait until the third round, but Pearsall is about as good of a slot receiver as a team can get. He’s savvy in his route-running, wins in different ways and has reliable hands — just like Boyd.

If the Bengals do opt to wait on taking a receiver, former Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat is probably the best on the board in PFF’s simulator at this point. PFF doesn’t rate him as high as others, mostly because his weight and conditioning could be a concern, but he’s the “Consensus 100″ third-ranked defensive tackle.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP


McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&M DT

If Cincinnati hasn’t already taken a defensive tackle, now is the time. It’s not a deep position group in this draft, and the impact options will be dwindling. The best run-stopper available on the simulation board, McKinnley is a “slippery one-gap penetrating defensive lineman who can play nose and three-technique in a 4-3 scheme,” according to PFF. He graded at a 76.9 in run defense last season and also had four sacks, though his lack of arm length limits his ability in the pass rush.


DeWayne Carter, Duke DT

The Bengals might want to double-dip with the extra third-round pick, as they already needed more depth last year before losing Josh Tupou from the roster. Carter isn’t an elite physical presence, but he is a “versatile, smart and consistent football player in the run and pass games,” according to PFF, which also notes he projects as a high-floor rotational player with starting potential.


Cade Stover, Ohio State TE

Mike Gesicki was a solid addition in free agency, and the returns of Drew Sample and Tanner Hudson made sense after both had strong 2023 campaigns, but the Bengals have needed a new tight end to develop and might finally pull the trigger on a draft pick this time. Stover is well-rounded player with the athleticism and good fundamentals to make him into a high-upside role player with eventual starting potential. He’s solid in run blocking and has reliable hands to be effective in the passing game.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP


Tyrone Tracy Jr., Purdue RB

Tracy was a full-time running back for only one year but with starting background at receiver, he brings a unique skillset that could be helpful to the Bengals offense. He sees lanes well and creates additional yardage with a blend of elusiveness and power, and his long strides help him get to the corner on outside runs. While he’s still honing skills as a runner, his versatility and ability to handle gadget runs and threaten linebackers could get him on the field early.


Josh Wallace, Michigan CB

The Bengals have selected defensive backs out of Michigan the last two drafts, so why not go for three in a row? Wallace graded at 86.5 last season, according to PFF, and he’s solid in both coverage and run defense. At just a hair under 6 foot, he’s a little undersized and has average closing speed, which could limit his takeaway totals, but he’s a natural leader with adequate athleticism and an excellent route reader and tackle-finisher.


David White Jr., West Carolina WR

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound receiver started his collegiate career at Division II Valdosta State before transferring to Western Carolina. He was unguardable at the Hula Bowl and earned a spot at the Shrine Bowl, where he continued to impress. His unique combination of size and athleticism allows him to fill different roles, but he’s especially strong in contested catches, which is something the Bengals will be looking for as they prepare for a possible future without Tee Higgins.


Tanor Bortolini, Wisconsin C/G

Bortolini brings flexibility as someone who could play center or guard, which could make him a valuable backup with potential to develop for the future. He’s well-schooled from a technique standpoint, and he has decent strength while showing to be fluid on the move. He’s played in every run-blocking scheme and is fundamentally in pass protection.


Darius Muasau, UCLA LB

The Bengals likely won’t have all these picks at the end of the day, but they could use this spot to add another linebacker to develop. Muasau was solid in coverage, against the run and in pass rushing. He’s got a muscular build and high motor, good instincts and initial quickness to get a good jump in pursuit, but can be inconsistent with missed tackles.


Austin McNamara, Texas Tech P

Brad Robbins didn’t end up being as solid of a punter as the Bengals anticipated, so it makes sense the Bengals could use this last pick to give him some competition.

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