The 2023 NFL Draft is probably the last thing on people's minds but it's never too early to start thinking about it! Cincinnati Bengals fans used to start thinking about the draft way before the end of the season but these explosive teams we've watched this year and last year have allowed us to wait a little bit before turning our attention to the draft.
With the Bengals playing on Thursday Night Football, we have a few extra days to discuss stuff that we probably wouldn't in a normal week.
So, with that in mind, I ran a three-round mock draft on Pro Football Network's mock draft simulator. Here are the players I added to the Bengals' roster.
Stats courtesy of College Sports Reference
Draft profiles courtesy of The Draft Network
Bengals 3-Round Mock Draft
Round 1: Pick 18 - Cam Smith, CB (South Carolina)
For the second straight year, the stripes added a player in the secondary in the first round, this time in the form of Cam Smith. The South Carolina Gamecock is entering his second year as a starter and so far has one interception in four games. Smith had three picks and 11 pass break-ups during his junior year in 2021.
The Bengals signed Eli Apple to a one-year deal this past offseason and it's possible that if he continues to play well in 2022 that he'll get a larger contract offer elsewhere. Cincinnati was his only suitor this past offseason (probably because of the trash talking he did and then giving up the game-winning touchdown to Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl but I digress) but that might not be the case next spring.
Smith would be a solid option to replace Apple if he does indeed leave. The Bengals have Cam Taylor-Britt waiting in the wings but Chidobe Awuzie will hit free agency in 2024 so why not try to have a replacement in the works for him as well? This is what the Bengals did with Daxton Hill in regards to Jessie Bates' future so it could be something they look to employ again, only this time at the cornerback spot.