The signing of Cincinnati Bengals draft picks from 2023 is a not-so-subtle reminder of the recent past, just like visiting Kings Island’s Eiffel Tower reminds you of your transatlantic vacation last month. It’s like when you return from vacation and want that European feeling to linger as long as it can so you head to Jungle Jim's for a baguette, an expensive Pinot Noir, and some Camembert.
Nevertheless, that feeling trails behind you like the entrails from the jet slowly waning as you return to the real world. That’s what it feels like after the NFL Draft.
But do not despair, Bengals fans. Just like your vacation time, the draft will return next year. And when it does, we should hope that Cincinnati has these four players high on their draft board.
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Darian Varner, Wisconsin
Former Temple-now Wisconsin Badger Darian Varner is headed into his redshirt junior year as one of the best pass rushers in college football. Varner is a versatile player who can rush the passer from the defensive end and tackle spots. However, the Bengals should think of him as a pass-rushing defensive tackle capable of getting to opposing QBs from up the middle.
At times, Varner can be utterly dominant and take over games himself from the interior of the defensive line.
Yet, Varner is not a potential replacement for DJ Reader who becomes a free agent at the end of the 2023 season. What the Badger is, however, is a defensive weapon to be unleashed for a team that has struggled to get sacks in a passing league.
There is no guarantee that he will declare for the NFL Draft after his redshirt junior year but if he has a season where he approaches 10 sacks from the defensive tackle spot, he should be on the Bengals' radar while he attempts to wreck Big Ten opponents.
Varner finished the 2022 season with 7.5 sacks, 35 tackles, and one forced fumble. He is a player Bengals fans should keep a close eye on in the 2023 college season.
Cincinnati is having a difficult time acquiring defensive ends who can consistently pressure quarterbacks from the edge. Perhaps it is time to take a new approach. Concentrate on defensive tackles and linebackers who can get to the passer.