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The 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books. So what better way to close the weekend for the Cincinnati Bengals than with a nice seven-round mock for 2023? We’re all football nerds, after all.
Obviously, this is all a shot in the dark, but at least we can get an early jump on a couple of names for next season. We’ll be using the Mock Draft Simulator over at Pro Football Network for this exercise (mainly because they’re the only ones as of this writing that have already updated their simulator for 2023). Let’s get started.
No. 32 (trade with Buffalo) - BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU
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The order for these simulators was set using reverse Super Bowl odds for next season and the Bengals would be sitting at No. 22 originally. But in this exercise, the Bills called and offered a 2024 first-round pick to move up. So the offer was too good to pass up, being able to stay in the first round and pick up an extra first-rounder the following year. (I’m sure everyone reading this will be praying this will end up where the Bengals actually select in 2023).
As for the pick, with no clear apparent needs, other than maybe tight end, the Bengals just go ahead and grab a good football player in Ojulari, who is coming off seven sacks and 12 tackles for a loss in 2021 for LSU and is only going to grow from there. He has a chance to shine for the Tigers in 2022.
No. 54 - Will Mallory, TE, Miami (FL)
(AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Mallory is returning for his fifth year with the Hurricanes, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility due to COVID. Next year’s tight end class has the early look of being quite good (in this simulation, the first tight end was taken at No. 5 by the Jaguars, Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer).
Mallory missed time this spring with a shoulder injury, but should be good for the season. He has totaled eight touchdowns over the last two seasons. Drew Sample is set to be a free agent next year and the Bengals did not take a tight end in this draft. Good chance they do next year. Mallory could be a name to watch.
No. 86 - Mekhi Garner, CB, LSU
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The Bengals go back to the well at LSU, though Garner is a transfer from Louisiana-Lafeyette. Garner was a third-team All-Sun Belt honoree in 2021 with eight pass breakups and 31 tackles. The Bengals continue to add youth to the secondary with Eli Apple possibly gone after this season.
No. 154 - Dontae Bull, OL, Fresno State
(AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)
The Canadian product (born in Victoria, British Columbia) certainly has size at a listed 6’7″ and 326. He’ll be a four-year starter and five-year player for Fresno State after this season. He started 11 games at left tackle last season and was on the Senior Bowl Watch List last season, so it’s quite possible we see him in Mobile next year.
Note: The Bengals traded their fourth-round pick to the Bills as part of the deal to move back to No. 32.
No. 186 - Cameron Rising, QB, Utah
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Eventually, the Bengals will likely be adding new faces behind Joe Burrow. So we’ll take a stab here in the sixth on a guy with a fitting last name, because all Rising has been doing is rising. After a slow start, his fast improvement over the course of the 2021 season was a huge reason Utah made a run to win the Pac-12 title and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl. He threw 20 touchdowns versus just five interceptions last season. It wouldn’t be surprising if he continues to rise and hears his name much higher than this next year.
No. 218 - Ben Sims, TE, Baylor
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Baylor doesn’t utilize the tight end position too much, but Sims is still a pretty decent pass-catcher for the Bears and the Bengals may look to take some shots at the position next year, hence why they double-dip at the position, wrapping things up in the 7th.