The Cincinnati Bengals hold the 28th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Since the start of the offseason, tight end has been a popular position for poking fun at the team, and that only stepped up after they lost Hayden Hurst by free hand.
In the three mock drafts I looked at for this article, all three started the Bengals with the same player, funnily enough. This player is Darnell Washington from Georgia.
The Georgia tight end had 28 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns, and that’s impressive considering he was competing for goals with Brock Bowers, the No. 1 tight end for Georgia.
Hurst’s loss was an unfortunate blow to the free hand, but the Bengals are fortunate that this year’s tight end draft class is so stacked. Dalton Kincaid had previously been linked to them in mock drafts, but now the tide has turned to Washington I think.
The team could benefit from every player joining their roster, but why is everyone on the Washington-to-the-Bengals train now? Let’s see what the writers had to say.
NFL Mock Draft 2023: Lions take QB, Chargers replace Austin Ekeler as the landscape shifts amid free agency [Kyle Stackpole, CBS Sports]
“Hayden Hurst gone? Not a problem as the Bengals add the monstrous Darnell Washington. He lacked production in college as two-time All-American tight end Brock Bowers commanded most of the goals, but that doesn’t mean he can .” He’s not a weapon in the passing game. He’s huge, athletic, and can catch – as shown by his grabbing the combine.
– Kyle Stackpole
NFL Mock Draft 2023: QBs filled with top 4 picks after Cardinals tradeback; Cowboys choose pass catchers [Josh Edwards, CBS Sports]
“Whether this offseason or next, Cincinnati can’t afford to keep Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase. With the addition of Darnell Washington, the Bengals replace Hayden Hurst and add another specialized blocker to a line that should be improved with Orlando Braun jr.”
– Josh Edwards
Oh man, fans aren’t going to like what Edwards said about the team not being able to afford to keep their big three. Tee Higgins is eligible for an extension this offseason, Ja’Marr Chase is eligible for an extension next year, and Tyler Boyd is entering the final year of his contract (as is Higgins).
2023 NFL Three-Round Mock Draft: Carolina Panthers select QB CJ Stroud, Indianapolis Colts snag QB Anthony Richardson [Trevor Sikkema, PFF]
“The Bengals could be looking for offensive help at the back end of the first round, but they also have to deal with the tight ending position as Hayden Hurst is now out of Cincinnati. They can address both needs by selecting Darnell Washington, a massive 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end who is a rare athlete for his size and almost like a sixth offensive lineman at the end of the line of scrimmage .
– Trevor Sikkema
This is a three-round mock and Sikkema also has the team adding Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents and Penn State safety Ji’ayir Brown.
It’s not crazy to see why Darnell Washington could be a draft match for the Bengals. Some fans might not want the team to add a tight finish in round one, but if there’s a year the team should do it, it’s this year.