NFL Insider Adam Caplan Has the Bengals Stepping Out of Comfort Zone in Latest Mock Draft

The Bengals are the only team in the NFL not to draft a tight end in the last 33 rounds of the NFL Draft, dating back to 2019. Could that change in 2024?

CINCINNATI – After patching their most notable holes in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals have some flexibility in which direction they can go with their first pick in next week’s NFL Draft.

After picking in the top five in 2020 and 2021 and the bottom five in 2022 and 2023, the Bengals find themselves near the middle of the pack at No. 18 this year after a 9-8 campaign failed to produce a third consecutive playoff berth.

NFL Insider Adam Caplan Has Bengals Drafting TE Brock Bowers

With the No. 18 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, NFL insider Adam Caplan has Cincinnati selecting Georgia tight end Brock Bowers in his latest mock draft.

Caplan has stated he does his mocks and boards by value, leading him to have Bowers going to the Bengals. However, it’s not any more likely today than it was several weeks ago that it comes to fruition.

First, the chances are poor for Bowers, one of the best tight end prospects the league has seen in years, to still be available at No. 18.

Even if he is, Cincinnati’s front office has been clear in how it does not view TE as a premium position worthy of a first-round pick, especially after re-signing Drew Sample for three years and Tanner Hudson for one, while also bringing in Mike Gesicki on a one-year contract.

Will Bowers be a better player in the NFL than any of those three?

Probably.

Would he put up significantly better numbers than that trio in the Cincinnati offense?

It’s doubtful. The bulk of the offense is going to run through Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in 2024. And even if Higgins leaves in free agency next year, Cincinnati’s front office will have a succession plan in place.

Joe Burrow gets marginal tight ends paid. He did it for C.J. Uzomah (49 catches, 493 yards, five touchdowns in 2021), Hayden Hurst (52 catches, 414 yards, two touchdowns in 2022), and Hudson (39 catches for 352 yards and a touchdown in just 12 games in 2023).

Even Sample, who is more a blocking TE than a receiving threat, cashed in with a new three-year, $10.5 million last month.

It will be stunning if the Bengals’ first-round pick isn’t an offensive tackle, defensive tackle, wide receiver, or cornerback. Tight end isn’t likely to enter the equation until the fourth round.

And it may not come into play at all.

Since the Bengals took Sample in the second round in 2019, there have been 71 tight ends drafted. Thirty-one of the 32 teams have selected at least one.

The outlier? The Bengals.

In fact, 23 of the other 31 have drafted multiple tight ends in that time span.

You can make the argument that the Bengals are due, and you’d probably be right. But they aren’t ending the drought at No. 18 by selecting Bowers, no matter how great he may end up being.

You can mock that to the bank.

KEEP READING: Chad Johnson Confident in Bengals’ Chances With a Healthy Joe Burrow

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