One of the most unpredictable things when it comes to the NFL-- and, really, sports in general-- is the draft and specifically how those who your team picked will turn out. You can have a really good draft where you get value out of every single pick, or you can make really poor selections that come back to haunt your franchise and set it back another 5-10 years.
Usually, though, it's somewhere in the middle.
The Cincinnati Bengals have eight rookies suiting up for OTAs this year just from the draft alone. You can also add on (from my count) 10 more to include undrafted free agents (UDFAs) and the total count of rookies on Cincinnati's roster at the moment is nearly 20. A lot of question marks, a lot of hopefulness, and maybe-- just maybe-- we may get one or two legends that come out of this class.
For now, we'll just focus on those actually selected in the draft. Of course, everything is still speculation until the regular season gets underway and we can see how well these rookies-- at least those that make the final cuts-- actually play at the professional level. Until then, let's make some bold predictions about the Bengals' 2023 rookie class!
Jordan Battle turns out to be the Bengals' best pick this draft
Of the eight selections (you can see all eight here) the Bengals made during the 2023 draft, grabbing safety Jordan Battle out of Alabama in the third round-- one round later than many mocked him to go, mind you-- was my favorite of the bunch.
Still reeling from losing their two veteran safeties, the front office needed to address the position this off-season, their first move coming near the beginning of free agency when they made what I would consider an underrated signing in Nick Scott from the Rams, who brings a much-needed veteran presence to an otherwise very young safety room.
Their next major move to address the position was drafting Jordan Battle, who at the moment serves as the first guy up/a rotational piece behind starters Nick Scott and Dax Hill. However, I firmly believe he'll become much more than that as his NFL career progresses. Maybe not in his rookie season, but down the road.
Battle could end up even having a Bates-type role in this defense, as he's a hard hitter and a fairly reliable tackler. On top of that, his athleticism and movement are something to be impressed by. He's fast, shifty, and has an explosive burst.
As anyone else does, Battle does have his flaws, in fact much like Bates he can sometimes get too aggressive pursuing a ballcarrier and that leads to him trying to tackle said ballcarrier at a bad angle that allows them to slip away, but overall his pros outweigh his cons. If you want to read someone's breakdown film better than I can, I recommend this article by Mike Santagata of Sports Illustrated.
Now admittedly, this prediction is much more vague and long-term than the rest on the list will be, as those will focus more on how these rookies do in their rookie seasons, with specific stats as 'benchmarks', but I love this pick and I wanted to express my belief in how well it will turn out for Cincy.