The Cincinnati Bengals were no fluke in 2021 when they made a Super Bowl run and nearly won it all in Joe Burrow’s second season.
They went back to the AFC Championship game last year after a 12-4 season and Burrow lost to Patrick Mahomes for the first time in his career. Those two will be battling it out in the AFC for years to come and have separated themselves at the top two young quarterbacks in the NFL.
However, quarterbacks need help and as the draft approaches it’s good to ask how the Bengals can increase their chances of winning Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas with the 28th pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
They could add to their vaunted offense to try and outscore Mahomes and the Chiefs or maybe load up on the other side to give Lou Anarumo more chess pieces against Andy Reid. Either way the Chiefs are the measuring stick and with a great first round pick the Bengals could find themselves tall enough to ride this roller coaster all the way to the Lombardi Trophy.
Bengals Super Bowl odds
Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Draft Targets
- Jahmyr Gibbs
- Dalton Kincaid
- Drew Sanders
I know, I know, don’t draft a running back in the first round. Well how about if that running back is a great pass catcher who ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine who Dane Brugler says, “his talent is a mixture of Alvin Kamara and Chris Johnson.”
How about if we draft that guy in the first?
Joe Mixon is still the entrenched starter, but Gibbs has a versatile skill set that can allow him to lineup all over the formation on early down, he took 26.4% of his passing snaps lined up outside or in the slot, and can be your option in the backfield on third down.
The Bengals already don’t trust Mixon to play three downs and Samaje Perine is gone, so they need juice in the backfield. More importantly they need a future in the backfield because Mixon isn’t getting younger and his cap hit isn’t getting smaller.
Mixon only had six runs of 15+ yards this year, his fewest in a full season since his rookie year and his 3.9 yards per carry was a drop off. Gibbs brings breakaway speed and three-down ability that would make this offense even scarier.
Plus, he’s excellent at running out of shotgun, something Cincy does as much as any team in the NFL.
The Chiefs get to show off Travis Kelce every time these teams match up and while KC doesn’t have anybody like Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins on the outside, Zac Taylor might want his own toy at tight end. Kincaid is an undersized pass catcher who won’t bring much as a blocker and often lines up in the slot, which could be useful as Tyler Boyd continues to age, and will be a UFA after this season.
Kincaid is widely seen as the No. 2 tight end behind Michael Mayer, but he could be the best fit for Joe Burrow. Kincaid does great work after the catch and shows an ability to find the openings in a defense consistently.
I loved watching him at Utah and he would make one of the scariest passing offenses in the NFL even more terrifying. Kincaid won’t be Kelce, but he will be great and that’s a big upgrade over Hayden Hurst.
Let’s talk about the defensive side of the ball. An off-ball linebacker isn’t exactly a player you would typically think about moving the needle for Super Bowl odds, but Drew Sanders could be a really interesting player to give to Lou Anarumo.
Sanders was the No.1 athlete in his recruiting class and committed to Alabama as a pass-rusher. He later transferred to Arkansas and became an off-ball linebacker for the Razorbacks.
He was a unanimous All-American in his one year at Arkansas and is widely considered the No. 1 linebacker in this draft.
Sanders is a run-stopping off-ball linebacker who doesn’t excel in coverage, but with his background as a pass-rusher, it would be so fun to see him in this defense.
Anarumo is fantastic at recognizing the skill-set of a player on his defense and allowing them to do what they’re great at. Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither are both free agents after this year, so the Bengals need to address this spot and if you get a linebacker who can also be used as an edge rusher, that’s a huge boost to a defense.
Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change