Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals will make some changes in the offseason of 2023. Recall that they still have several holes to fill on their squad. Of course, they can do so through the draft, particularly with certain guys who may not be on their radar. Here we’ll look at the three sleeper rookie prospects for the Cincinnati Bengals to target in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Bengals' 2022 campaign started off with a mediocre record of 4-4 after their Super Bowl appearance the previous season. However, they managed to improve by winning all their remaining eight games in the regular season. They eventually finished with a record of 12-4, which allowed them to clinch the AFC North and earn the No. 3 seed in the conference. However, they didn't make it to the Super Bowl, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game. Despite that, the Bengals have a promising future with a young core, led by Ja'Marr Chase and MVP finalist Joe Burrow.
As of now, the team holds the No. 28 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. This means that many top prospects may already be taken by the time their turn comes. Nevertheless, there is a possibility for them to find some interesting players at the end of Day 1 and those that follow.
Let’s look at three sleeper draft prospects for the Bengals in 2023.
1. Zack Kuntz
The Bengals are facing a significant need to fill the tight end position. Keep in mind that they lost Hayden Hurst to the Carolina Panthers during the offseason. As of now, they haven't found a replacement in free agency. Unfortunately, with the first and second waves of free agency, their options to find a tight end have become limited. Right now, it's clear that the 2023 NFL Draft is their best chance to upgrade.
As such, the Bengals might consider selecting Notre Dame's Michael Mayer in the first round of the draft. However, there's no assurance that he will be available. Alternatively, the team could look at Old Dominion's Zack Kuntz, an athletic player who had a great combine and has been recognized as one of the biggest “risers” in the draft. However, Kuntz's run-blocking skills need improvement to become a starter in the NFL.
If Cincinnati does draft Kuntz, he could benefit from working with the Bengals' tight ends coach, James Casey. Remember that he did an impressive job with Hurst last season. Casey's coaching should help Kuntz improve his run blocking and develop into a starting-caliber tight end for the Bengals.
ODU TE Zack Kuntz is a very intriguing prospect
He could develop behind Hurst for the next couple seasons
— SZN (@CLT_Sportsfan) March 28, 2023
2. Cam Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell was a reliable cornerback for the Northwestern Wildcats over the past few seasons. In fact, he recorded 48 tackles and six passes defended in 2021. He also improved in his senior year with 52 tackles, one interception, seven passes broken up, one forced fumble, and one sack.
Mitchell is a tenacious cover corner who possesses quickness, good footwork, and instincts. He moves with fluidity and does a great job of sticking with receivers to prevent them from gaining separation. Mitchell is adept at keeping his man from getting open and can quickly recover if they do manage to gain an advantage. Additionally, his flexibility enables him to run downfield with speedy receivers. He also possesses the agility to react quickly to the ball and shut down wideouts.
In addition to his man-to-man coverage abilities, Mitchell is a disciplined corner who does not fall for double moves. He has well-trained eyes and can read receivers effectively without getting caught up in play fakes. Mitchell also demonstrated good ball skills at Northwestern, and he has the ability to knock passes away with precision timing. He would be a great addition to the Bengals' secondary.
1. Tucker Kraft
Tucker Kraft aims to follow in the footsteps of Dallas Goedert as the next South Dakota State tight end to become an early draft pick. As a sophomore in 2021, Kraft was highly productive with 780 receiving yards, six touchdowns, and 65 receptions. This generated considerable hype for his junior season. However, Kraft suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss five games. That prevented him from replicating his previous year's success. Nevertheless, Kraft's potential as a prospect did not diminish.
Despite attending a small school, Kraft boasts exceptional physical traits. These include his impressive size and a well-built frame with a broad upper body and sturdy lower half. He can even play in various positions on the field. These range from in-line, slot, and outside. Kraft can surely be a great asset in both running and passing games. He is also an outstanding athlete for his size, displaying good speed, agility, and quickness in short distances.
Currently, Kraft's athleticism is more advanced than his football skills. However, his potential is easy to project for the next level. He has the makings of a complete tight end. Kraft can serve as a high-volume pass target and make plays independently due to his run instincts and strength. Of course, we also project that he can be a solid and reliable run blocker.