In this article I will break down and analyse the Cincinnati Bengals Draft picks. Cincinnati made some risky selections with prospects having either injury or serious character concerns.
Round 1, pick 9- John Ross III, WR, Washington
The Bengals fell in love with John Ross during the pre-draft process. After his 4.22 40-yard dash Ross’ stock was rising and despite defensive talent dropping due to the Mitch Trubisky trade and receivers Davis and Williams coming off the board it was clear the Bengals had Ross as their best available player. The pick signifies that despite concerns over an ageing defense, the front office clearly believe that a lack of offensive dynamism was the main problem for the Bengals in 2016. Ross adds a different type of threat for Andy Dalton to target and as long as he can bounce back from shoulder surgery the Bengals should cause opposition defenses plenty of problems.
Round 2, pick 48- Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
If the Ross selection was somewhat of a surprise the Mixon pick seemed inevitable after the heavy links between him and the Bengals. In terms of football talent the pick is tremendous value and fills one of the Bengals biggest needs. Current power back Jeremy Hill is in a contract year and scat back Gio Bernard is returning from serious injury. Without the off-field incident Mixon is a top-15 pick who can do it all, but the Bengals fanbase may take some convincing. Marvin Lewis has always felt his locker room is strong enough to cope with character issues but even if Mixon doesn’t re-offend fans may still feel uneasy getting behind a player with his history. The biggest surprise was that the Bengals were happy to allow the Vikings to jump up and take Dalvin Cook who has similar talent with character issues of his own but nothing to the degree of Mixon.
Round 3, pick 73- Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State
It can be argued that Willis was the steal of the whole draft, an athletic defensive end with 26.5 sacks in his college career he was exactly what the Bengals were looking for. A consensus second rounder Willis’ combine performance had left analysts believing he could sneak into the first round. With that in mind, the Bengals will be happy to add a speed rusher of his calibre at this spot. Although he doesn’t fit the mould of a typical Bengals’ defensive end, with a good training camp he will hope to dislodge veteran Michael Johnson.
Round 4, pick 116- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Having addressed defensive end in round 3 it was somewhat of surprise to see the Bengals double dip with Lawson but the value was simply too good for them. There are genuine injury concerns with Lawson but if he can overcome them and harness his pass rushing ability he could develop into a key defensive piece. He is likely to begin his Bengals career as a third down edge rusher. If fellow rookie Jordan Willis or veteran end Carlos Dunlap can kick inside it gives Cincy a mouth-watering pass rushing defensive front.
Round 4, pick 128- Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
Wide Receiver was not a major need for the Bengals going into this draft. Tyler Boyd and Cody Core were taken last and veteran Brandon LaFell recently resigned through 2017, so to see Malone come off the board after the earlier pick of John Ross was surprising. However, considering the Bengals were rumoured to rate him as a second round talent you can see why they couldn’t resist at pick 128. He’ll need some refinement and may not see much action in a crowded depth chart but the Bengals believe he can add further firepower to a potentially electric offense.
Round 4, pick 138- Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
The Bengals made a conscious decision to get younger on defense this offseason and cutting Karlos Dansby and Domato Peko was a sign that they weren’t going to rely on veterans to anchor the defense. Glasgow will be buried on the depth chart but his tenacity and experience at a major college could see him jump ahead of Pat Sims to be part of the run-stuffing defensive rotation.
Round 5, pick 153- Jake Elliott, K, Memphis
Turning good field position into points was a recurring problem for the Bengals in 2017 and Mike Nugent’s misfiring didn’t help. After cutting Nugent mid-season the Bengals had limited options and Randy Bullock seemed like a less than satisfactory solution. A young kicker like Elliott should be perfectly positioned to take on the role and the spot should be his to lose.
Round 5, pick 176- J.J. Dielman, C, Utah
Having lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler it may come as a surprise that the offensive line was not addressed sooner. It shows the confidence that the Bengals front office have in previous year’s selections Ced Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher and Christian Westerman. One of the biggest weaknesses on the line last year was center Russ Bodine, Dielman has been brought in to let him know his spot on the line is not a given.
Round 6, pick 193- Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
The linebacking corps was found lacking in speed during 2016 and the Bengals are seeking to become more athletic by giving reps to 2nd year Nick Vigil and free agent Kevin Minter. Evans is the same mould and should get his opportunity first through special teams.
Round 6, pick 207- Brandon Wilson, RB/DB, Houston
Round 6 is about picking up talented players who can give you something on special teams, Wilson tested well and is versatile across several positions. He could end up being the punt and kick returner if the team decides it cannot afford to keep seven receivers and current returner Alex Erikson faces the chop.
Round 7, pick 251- Mason Shreck, TE, Buffalo
Tyler Eifert’s injury issues had some analysts predicting the Bengals would address TE earlier but they appear to happy with backups Ryan Hewitt and CJ Uzomah. Shreck will initially be a special teamer who could push Tyler Kroft for his roster spot.