2023 NFL Offseason: Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals (Last Year: 12-4)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
OT Orlando Brown, CB Sidney Jones, S Nick Scott.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Myles Murphy, CB D.J. Turner, S Jordan Battle, WR Charlie Jones, RB Chase Brown. Bengals Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Brandon Allen, RB Samaje Perine, TE Hayden Hurst, CB Eli Apple, S Jessie Bates, S Vonn Bell, S Tre Flowers.

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Offense:
Joe Burrow experienced a magical second NFL season in which he led his team to the Super Bowl. He even had the lead in the second half of that game, but a late drive by the Rams and horrible blocking by his offensive front ruined a potential victory. This was a clear sign that the blocking needed to improve, and the front office agreed. They signed a trio of linemen to help Burrow: Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins.

Cappa and Karras had solid seasons at center and right guard, respectively. Collins, on the other hand, was dreadful, likely because he was playing hurt. Still, the Bengals really wanted to solidify the weak point of the blocking after Burrow was hounded frequently versus the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. This led to the signing of Orlando Brown, who just had a stellar season for the Chiefs. Brown will play left tackle, shifting Jonah Williams over to right tackle. Williams was not happy about the move, even asking for a trade in the process, but this has seemingly subsided.

With this configuration, the lone liability on the front is left guard Cordell Volson, who has some upside as a 2022 fourth-round pick. It also remains to be seen what will be done with Collins, who can be a terrific tackle when healthy.

With improved blocking, Burrow should have even more success targeting his extremely talented receivers. Ja’Marr Chase will be a threat to lead the league in receiving in his third year, while Tee Higgins is one of the better No. 2 wideouts in the NFL. Tyler Boyd is a stellar tertiary option as well. There’s also tight end Irv Smith Jr., who can be an effective weapon when healthy. Smith has had issues staying on the field, however.

Given the bolstered offensive line, tremendous receiving corps, and elite franchise quarterback, the only poor spot on this side of the ball is stationed with Burrow in the backfield. Joe Mixon looked like he was running in quicksand last year, so with solid backup Samaje Perine gone, it was expected that Cincinnati would address the position in free agency or early in the 2023 NFL Draft. The best the Bengals could do, however, was select Chase Brown in the fifth round. It’s not crazy to think that Brown could surpass Mixon at some point.

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Defense:
Generating great pressure is the name of the game in the AFC, given how many talented quarterbacks there are in the conference. The Bengals were 13th in pressure rate last year despite the presence of two talented edge rushers, Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. This wasn’t good enough, according to management, which would explain their decision with their first-round pick.

Cincinnati was hoping for Lukas Van Ness to fall to No. 28 overall, but that did not happen. Instead, the team settled on Myles Murphy, an athletic pass rusher. He won’t be a starter right away with Hendrickson and Hubbard ahead of him, but he’ll potentially be a great addition to a rotation to keep the two starters fresh.

The two returning defensive tackles will be the same as well, as D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill will reprise their roles. Hill is a solid player, while Reader is a dominant force in the interior. He’s the primary reason why Cincinnati ranked fourth versus the run in 2022.

While the Bengals utilized their opening-round selection on a pass rusher, they used their next two picks to fix the secondary. The second-round pick was spent on D.J. Turner, who was the fastest player at the combine. The Bengals have been searching for a better No. 2 corner across from the talented Chidobe Awuzie for a while, and Turner might end up being the answer. At the moment, 2022 second-rounder Cam Taylor-Britt is the current starter. He could also be the long-term answer, as he had a decent rookie campaign. The mediocre Mike Hilton will continue to serve in the slot.

Cincinnati’s next pick was spent on third-rounder Jordan Battle. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to break into the starting lineup, though it’ll help that the Bengals lost their two starters at the position from last year, Jessie Bates and Von Bell. Those are some big shoes to fill, so Daxton Hill, last year’s first-round selection, has his work cut out for him. The coaching staff will be hoping that Battle is able to surpass Nick Scott, who was dreadful last year.

While safety could be an issue, Cincinnati’s linebacking corps is at least sound. The Bengals have a solid tandem at the position in Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt. Both are still in their mid-20s, so there isn’t expected to be any sort of decline from them.

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule and Intangibles:
Cincinnati has developed a strong home-field advantage recently, going 47-27-1 over the past nine seasons, excluding 2019, which was a lost year.

Evan McPherson has kicked well for the Bengals over the past couple of years. He was 24-of-29 in 2022, including a perfect 5-of-5 from 50-plus. The downside was that he whiffed on four extra points.

The Bengals needed a better punter, so they used a sixth-round pick on Brad Robbins.

The Bengals have a mixed schedule. They have some tough opponents like the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, and all the teams in their division. However, they also get to take on the Rams, Cardinals, Texans, Colts, and Titans.

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Rookies:
Go here for the Bengals Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Cincinnati Bengals Analysis: The Bengals are arguably the best team in the NFL. They have a weakness at safety, and their running game is a question mark, but the rest of their roster is packed with talent. Given the huge upgrade Cincinnati made to the offensive line, the team should be considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl, even over the Chiefs.

Projection: 14-3 (1st in AFC North)

2022 Projection: 13-4. 2022 Actual Result: 12-4.
2021 Projection: 7-10. 2021 Actual Result: 10-7.
2020 Projection: 4-12. 2020 Actual Result: 4-11-1.
2019 Projection: 4-12. 2019 Actual Result: 2-14.
2018 Projection: 6-10. 2018 Actual Result: 6-10.
2017 Projection: 6-10. 2017 Actual Result: 7-9.
2016 Projection: 10-6. 2016 Actual Result: 6-9-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Bengals have a great roster without many holes. They’ll be looking for a tight end, cornerback and another offensive lineman, but otherwise, Cincinnati should draft the best player available to help put it over the top compared to the Chiefs and Bills.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Cincinnati wanted Luke Van Ness to fall to them, but that did not happen. Instead, the Bengals targeted Myles Murphy, who happens to be a similar, albeit slightly worse prospect. This was a solid pick, and it was the first of three that Cincinnati that spent on the defensive side of the ball during the first two days of the draft. The other two choices were used on secondary help, as D.J. Turner and Jordan Battle could fight for playing time this year. Turner was the fastest player at the combine, and he earned the highest grade (A-) of the first three selections. Jordan Battle, conversely, was a bit of a reach.

I really liked what the Bengals did on the third day of the draft. They finally began mixing in some offensive prospects, including Charlie Jones, who was a steal in the fourth round. The same can be said of another receiver, Andrei Iosivas, who was chosen in the sixth frame. The Bengals also secured a potential replacement for Joe Mixon in Chase Brown, who was selected in the fifth round.

Though the Bengals didn’t land the prospects they realistically coveted the most at No. 28, they were able to put together a quality draft class. Of their eight selections, seven of them scored a “B” grade or better.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

28. Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson – B+ Grade
The Bengals really wanted Lukas Van Ness, but Myles Murphy is a similar athlete. Rushing the quarterback is essential for the Bengals, who are going to be competing with the Chiefs and Bills in the playoffs every year. Murphy is a fine choice, though passing on Nolan Smith and Michael Mayer is questionable.

60. D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan – A- Grade
I had this pick slotted to the Bengals, who love drafting players from big-time schools who played in huge games. D.J. Turner, who obviously qualifies, ran the fastest 40 at the combine. He has huge upside, which the Bengals need when they’re battling all the elite passing offenses in the AFC.

95. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama – C+ Grade
Jordan Battle is an average prospect who didn’t make too many splash plays at Alabama. However, he’s a smart safety who could fight for a starting job in the near future. I would have taken him a bit later.

131. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue – A Grade
The Bengals add yet another receiver for the future when they’ll have to trade either Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd. I like Charlie Jones quite a bit; he’s a shifty route runner with reliable hands. I thought he could have gone in the third round.

163. Chase Brown, RB, Illinois – B+ Grade
The Bengals needed a running back with Joe Mixon declining and Samaje Perine gone. Chase Brown is a quality power back with plus receiving ability. I had him in the fourth round, so I’m a fan of this value.

206. Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton – A Grade
Andrei Iosivas has an impressive combination of size and speed. I had him in the fourth round, so I love this value for the Bengals. Again, Cincinnati may lose some receivers soon, so perhaps Iosivas can compete for a job in the future.

217. Brad Robbins, P, Michigan – B Grade
The Bengals needed a punter, so they got one in the sixth round, which is fine. It was nice that they waited this long.

246. D.J. Ivey, CB, Miami – B+ Grade
D.J. Ivey is a solid late-round cornerback prospect with nice size. He has some speed concerns, but nothing major. He could have gone a round or two earlier.

Season Summary:
The Bengals had a great season despite their 0-2 start. They won every game since Halloween heading into the AFC Championship. They had a chance to win in Kansas City, but some horrendous calls went against them in a close loss.

Offseason Moves:
  • Bengals sign QB Trevor Siemian
  • Bengals sign TE Irv Smith Jr.
  • Bengals sign CB Sidney Jones
  • Bengals sign S Nick Scott
  • Bengals sign OT Orlando Brown

    Team Needs:
    1. Guard: Protecting Joe Burrow continues to be a priority. The weak link up front is one of the guards, Cordell Volson. Signed Cody Ford

    2. Safety: Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell both have expiring contracts. One will need to be re-signed, while the other can be replaced by Daxton Hill. Signed Nick Scott

    3. Linebacker: Germaine Pratt is a key free agent who will need to be re-signed. Re-signed Germaine Pratt

    4. Defensive Line Depth: The Bengals have some great starters on their defensive line, but they got into trouble during the regular season when they had injuries.

    5. Cornerback Depth: Cincinnati will be looking for cornerback depth if Eli Apple leaves via free agency. Signed Sidney Jones

    6. Tight End: Hayden Hurst is an impending free agent, but the Bengals tried to upgrade him last offseason anyway. Signed Irv Smith Jr.

    7. Backup Quarterback: Brandon Allen is set to hit free agency, so the Bengals will need to re-sign or replace him. Signed Trevor Siemian

    8. Punter: Kevin Huber is one of the worst punters in the NFL.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Orlando Brown, OT, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bengals (4 years, $64 million)

      Orlando Brown has developed into one of the better left tackles in the NFL. At just 27, Brown figures to perform on a high level for the duration of his next contract.

    2. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Vikings. Age: 25.
      Signed with Bengals

      The Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson because Irv Smith Jr. couldn’t stay healthy. Smith is a physically gifted player who could eventually live up to his potential if he can remain healthy.

    3. Nick Scott, S, Rams. Age: 28. — Signed with Bengals (3 years, $12 million)
    4. Sidney Jones, CB, Raiders. Age: 27. — Signed with Bengals
    5. Cody Ford, G, Cardinals. Age: 26. — Signed with Bengals
    6. Trevor Siemian, QB, Bears. Age: 31. — Signed with Bengals

    Cincinnati Bengals Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Jessie Bates, S, Bengals. Age: 26.
      Signed with Falcons (4 years, $64 million)

      Jessie Bates has seemingly been around forever, so it’s hard to believe that he’s only 26. He’s a stellar safety who is elite in run support.

    2. Germaine Pratt, LB, Bengals. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Bengals (3 years, $21 million)

      Germaine Pratt had a rocky start to his career as a third-round pick, but he has developed into an excellent linebacker who particularly thrives in coverage.

    3. Vonn Bell, S, Bengals. Age: 28.
      Signed with Panthers

      A short, but talented and well-rounded safety, Vonn Bell doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game.

    4. Hayden Hurst, TE, Bengals. Age: 30.
      Signed with Panthers (3 years)

      Hayden Hurst turns 30 this offseason, but he can be a solid receiving threat at tight end. He missed a chunk of action during the regular season, but had a great performance against the Bills in the playoffs.

    5. Samaje Perine, RB, Bengals. Age: 27.
      Signed with Broncos (2 years, $7.5 million)

      Samaje Perine isn’t much of a runner, but he’s a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

    6. Eli Apple, CB, Bengals. Age: 28.
      Eli Apple tends to be a feast-or-famine player. He was great during the 2021 Super Bowl run, but struggled more this past year.

    7. Tre Flowers, S, Bengals. Age: 28. — Signed with Falcons
    8. Drew Sample, TE, Bengals. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Bengals
    9. Brandon Allen, QB, Bengals. Age: 30. — Signed with 49ers
    10. Trent Taylor, WR, Bengals. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Bengals
    11. Trayveon Williams, RB, Bengals. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Bengals
    12. Max Scharping, G, Bengals. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Bengals
    13. Mitchell Wilcox, TE, Bengals. Age: 26.
    14. Jalen Davis, CB, Bengals. Age: 27.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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