3 NFL Draft WR sleepers who could be Tee Higgins' long-term replacement for the Bengals

The Bengals can't afford to bring Tee Higgins back next season. Here are three draft sleepers who can fill his shoes in Cincinnati.

Dec 31, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) gets his
Dec 31, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) gets his / Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports
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No one will feel sorry for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals offense next year just because they lose Tee Higgins in free agency. After all, Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd will still cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators. That does not mean the Bengals shouldn't strongly consider replacing Higgins with a wide receiver in this year's NFL Draft.

The good news for the team's front office is that they don't necessarily need to spend their first-round pick to solve the problem. The odds favor Cincinnati spending their No. 18 overall pick on a big body capable of keeping Burrow upright. That does mean that the team's scouting report needs to spend serious time scouting wideouts who won't hear their names called on Day One.

The versatility of both Chase and Boyd gives the Bengals the freedom to go after any type of receiver they covet. The following three wideouts would be intriguing targets for Burrow.

3. Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

Not many things went right for Texas A&M last year but Smith was a bright spot for the Aggies' offensive attack. He's not going to hear his name called anywhere near Round 1 but his explosive athletic traits could make him a valuable mid-round target for the Bengals.

Smith is nowhere near the finished product as a route-runner but he's got serious moves once he gets the ball in his hands. Drafting him would force Boyd to the outside as Smith profiles exclusively as a slot receiver. That's a risk worth taking for a prospect who can turn short screens into long gains when he's matched up one-on-one with nickel defenders.

Smith's medicals will be a major red flag for some teams but if Cincinnati feels comfortable with his health they should give him strong consideration on Day 3. He isn't going to replace Higgins' production as a rookie but he can add to the versatility of the Bengals' aerial attack.