Some drafts are about building for the future. In 2022, Dax Hill was a proactive pick for the Cincinnati Bengals to take over this year to replace Jesse Bates. In the impact department the investment wouldn't pay off until 2023 or if someone went down.
These kinds of picks are smart and are necessary at some positions to bring people up to speed. This year, however, is not about the future. This year is about going all in on getting to the Super Bowl. The focus should be on getting elite production wherever possible for 2023.
Max Impact is the key and the following prospects are the biggest game changers in the draft. One of them could be the key to hoisting the Lombardi.
Darnell Washington, TE (Georgia)
Darnell Washington is not just a tight end -- He is a paradigm shifter for the NFL. The Bengals' largest need is offensive tackle and there will be some good ones available with the 28th pick, The Bengals could go with Darnell Wright or Anton Harrison and no one would blink.
Washington, however, would be a revelation. Having an extra tackle on the field would help both the pass and the run. An extra tackle that can beat a linebacker deep and convert a sideline third down as a receiver is another thing entirely. Versatility is the key.
The Bengals' run game would be better, and the Bengals' pass game would get more time. Personnel would not have to change as the Bengals could put him out wide and run 4 receiver sets or keep Washington on the edge and power it through. A little bit of the mad scientist package versatility that Lou Anarumo uses could be available to Zac Taylor.
Conventionally there are lots of options for the Bengals. Local favorite Michael Mayer would be a prototypical complete plug-and-play tight end. Others such as Sam LaPorta would be an option later.
The thing is, the 2023 Bengals will be played differently than the 2022 Bengals. Instead of figuring out how we are going to react, we can proactively change the game and get Washington. Athletically, Darnell Washington is a game changer (9.9 RAS), on tape his physicality and talent shows. The only thing left is for Zac Taylor and Brian Callihan to dream up ways to take advantage of his talent and versatility.