4 prospects Bengals could regret passing on in 2023 NFL Draft

Oct 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Houston Cougars defensive lineman Derek Parish (0) sacks
Oct 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Houston Cougars defensive lineman Derek Parish (0) sacks / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cincinnati Bengals did a great job acquiring talent in the 2023 NFL Draft. When it comes to the early selections, we know that the team won’t have any regrets about who they selected. However, there are some players with enormous upside that the team missed out on in the back end of the draft.

Here are four players that the Bengals could regret passing on. 

Stats and rankings courtesy of ESPN, Pro Football Focus, and Sports Reference.

Brayden Willis, TE (Oklahoma)

Tight end Brayden Willis was taken with the 246th pick in the seventh round of the draft. The team might not think they missed out on a tight end, however, getting Willis in the seventh round would have been incredible value. 

The former Sooner is arguably the second-best pass and run-blocking tight end available after Darnell Washington. One of the goals for Cincinnati’s offense must be to keep Joe Burrow upright. Having a tight end capable of pass-blocking is imperative.

Whether it is because of the offensive game plan, what the defense shows, or a check at the line of scrimmage from Burrow himself, there will be points throughout the season when there is a tight end who must pass block one-on-one versus a defensive end. To paraphrase the ‘Mad Titan’ Thanos, it is inevitable. 

Getting the second-best pass blocker at that position in the draft in the seventh round would have been wonderful. Getting him as an undrafted free agent would have been better. Unfortunately, Willis was taken by the San Francisco 49ers one pick after Cincinnati selected cornerback D.J. Ivey. 

Of San Francisco’s selection of Willis, Pro Football Focus noted, “Willis played a role that allowed him to excel as a blocker and graded above 80.0 as both a run-blocker and pass-blocker last season” and graded the pick as “above average.”

Perhaps the 49ers will release him or carry him on the practice squad giving the Bengals a mulligan. A better, more ideal scenario would be if one of the tight ends on the roster steps up and becomes a consistent pass-blocker in the same way that running back Samaje Perrine did last season.