1. Brayden Willis, Oklahoma
If the Bengals do not want to invest a first-round draft pick in Darnell Washington, there is a player who will be available later in the draft by the name of Brayden Willis out of Oklahoma who could prove to be a great option. He is, quite possibly, the most underrated player in this draft class.
As far as being an excellent run and pass blocker, Willis is arguably the next-best option behind Washington.
Willis is an excellent when operating underneath and in the middle of the field.
For what it’s worth, PFF notes that he is the best tight end in the draft when it comes to running the slant route. Once he has the ball in his hands, Willis is a tough runner to bring down.
Along with being perhaps the second-best blocking tight end and a dependable receiver, he is versatile with where he lines up. He was used in-line, at wing, receiver, fullback, and running back. Willis even spent a good portion of Oklahoma’s game versus Texas at quarterback.
ESPN has Willis at 240 overall. Mock Draft Database currently has him at 239th overall. The Bengals select at 246 in the seventh round. PFF has Willis ranked 299th overall which is far too low for what the young tight end is capable of. 279.2 is where NFL Draft Buzz’s overall rank lists him.
If Cincinnati has not selected a tight end by the sixth or seventh round and they are still looking for someone to help soften the loss of Hurst, Willis should be the choice.
Whoever the Bengals go with at tight end, let’s hope that he is as beloved and as productive as Hurst was last season.
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