4 positions Bengals could draft in first round of 2023 NFL Draft, 3 to steer clear of
Steer Clear Of: Running Back
Admittedly, I am contradicting myself here, as I did just write an article exploring the (very slim) possibility of the Bengals trading up to select Bijan Robinson. However, as I thought more about it and debated with myself on the prospect of such a risky move, I decided it'd probably be best if the Bengals avoided Robinson, and running backs as a whole, even if he did somehow fall to the Bengals pick at No. 28.
Now if that somehow does happen, I still think the front office would take him, as it's hard to make a case that he's not the best player available if he were to still be on the draft board that late into the first round, but I'd advise against it.
As we all know, the shelf life of running backs is growing increasingly and concerningly shorter, and I don't know if investing a first-round pick in a guy who could very well already be on the decline by the time his rookie deal is up is the best use of it.
Now, to be fair, the Bengals contending window is open now and for all intents and purposes of winning a Lombardi, you can't be too focused on long-term investments. Getting a guy who may only be great right now for a couple of years is arguably the better move than waiting for another player to bloom into one and have a longer prime because the Bengals' chance to win a Super Bowl is now.
However, at the same time, you can find a good contributor in the running game as late as a Day 3 pick. Recent examples include Isaiah Pacheco, Khalil Herbert, and Kenneth Gainwell, and those are just from the past two drafts. Cincinnati doesn't have to jump the gun to get a good rookie running back, they can be patient and try to get a good steal in the fifth, sixth, or even seventh round.