The Cincinnati Bengals hold the 28th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. From the beginning of the offseason, tight end had been a popular position to mock to the team and that's only ramped up after they lost Hayden Hurst in free agency.
In the three mock drafts that I looked at for this article, all three had the Bengals going with the same player, funny enough. That player is Darnell Washington out of Georgia.
The Georgia tight end had 28 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns and this is impressive considering he was competing for targets with Brock Bowers, the No. 1 tight end for Georgia.
Losing Hurst was an unfortunate blow in free agency but the Bengals are fortunate that this year's tight end draft class is so stacked. Dalton Kincaid had previously been linked to them in mock drafts but now the tides have turned to Washington, I guess.
The team could benefit from either player joining their squad but why is everyone on the Washington to the Bengals bandwagon now? Let's look at what the authors had to say.
Bengals mock draft roundup
NFL Mock Draft 2023: Lions take QB, Chargers replace Austin Ekeler as landscape changing amid free agency [Kyle Stackpole, CBS Sports]
"Hayden Hurst gone? No problem, as the Bengals add the monstrous Darnell Washington. He lacked receiving production in college due to two-time All-American tight end Brock Bowers commanding most of the targets, but that doesn't mean he can't be a weapon in the passing game. He's huge, athletic and can catch -- which was evident in him making the grab of the combine."- Kyle Stackpole
NFL Mock Draft 2023: QBs taken with top four picks after Cardinals trade back; Cowboys select pass-catcher [Josh Edwards, CBS Sports]
"Whether it is this offseason or next, Cincinnati can not afford to keep Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja'Marr Chase. By adding Darnell Washington, the Bengals replace Hayden Hurst and add another specialized blocker to a line that should be improved with Orlando Brown Jr."- Josh Edwards
Oh man, fans won't like what Edwards said about the team not being able to afford to keep their big three. Tee Higgins is eligible for an extension this offseason, Ja'Marr Chase is eligible for an extension next year, and Tyler Boyd is entering the final year of his contract (as is Higgins).
2023 NFL Three-Round Mock Draft: Carolina Panthers select QB C.J. Stroud, Indianapolis Colts snag QB Anthony Richardson [Trevor Sikkema, PFF]
"The Bengals could be looking for some offensive line help at the back end of Round 1, but they’ll also need to address the tight end position with Hayden Hurst now out of Cincinnati. They can touch on both needs with the selection of Darnell Washington, a massive 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end who is a rare athlete for his size and almost like a sixth offensive lineman on the end of the line of scrimmage."- Trevor Sikkema
This is a three-round mock and Sikkema also has the team adding Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents and Penn State safety Ji'ayir Brown.
It's not crazy to see why Darnell Washington could be a fit for the Bengals in the draft. Some fans might not want to see the team add a tight end in round one but if there's a year where the team should do it, it's this year.