Now that the Bengals have announced their college free agent signings, I thought now would be a good time to examine them. All eight signed a two-year contract. UPDATE: We have the off-season chart updated . If there's anything we missed, let us know.
James Blair, G, 6'3", 323 lbs, Western Michigan (Scouts, Inc)
Strengths: Massive and engulfs undersized defenders. Has a low center of gravity, has adequate lower body strength and flashes the ability to drive defenders off the ball. Gets adequate hand placement and flashes the ability to sustain blocks once in position. Gets adequate not great knee bend in pass sets and rarely gives ground to bull rushers. Shows adequate lateral mobility and can slide with defenders.
Weaknesses: Takes too long to get out of stance and is going to have problems keeping one-gap defenders out of the backfield. Fails to deliver a powerful initial punch, doesn't explode into blocks and isn't going to jar defenders at the point of contact. Doesn't always take sound angles to downfield blocks, struggles to adjust to the moving target in space and has some problems getting into position at the second level. Lacks ideal range and isn't fast enough to get around the corner when asked to pull. Can slide with defenders but takes too long to redirect and is vulnerable to double moves. Lacks ideal initial quickness, doesn't have long arms and has problems preventing edge rushers from turning the corner. Doesn't have ideal strength for size, carries too much weight for frame and appears to wear down at times.
Overall: After redshirting his first year at Western Michigan (2003), Blair appeared in nine games as a freshman in 2004. He played 10 games (five starts) in 2005, then made 10 starts in 13 games as a junior in 2006. Last season Blair started all 12 games at right tackle for the Broncos. Blair's lack of initial quickness and athleticism raise questions about his ability to hold up as a pass blocker on the edge so he may actually be a better fit at guard where he's quick and big enough to develop into an effective backup. Additionally, he may have to lose some weight while adding some upper body strength so he is a bit of a developmental prospect. Blair projects as a seventh round pick consequently.
Justin Britt, G/C, 6'4", 302 lbs, Alabama. (Sports Illustrated)
POSITIVES: Tough, intelligent blocker who works hard until the whistle blows. Plays with excellent pad level, keeps his head on a swivel, and uses all his assets to their maximum. Shows the ability to pull across the line of scrimmage and block in motion. Plays with balance and technically sound.
NEGATIVES: Lacks bulk and strength and cannot finish blocks. Struggles sliding laterally in pass protection.
ANALYSIS: Britt has done a solid job in only two seasons on the offensive line. He offers potential in a zone blocking system and should only get better as he physically matures and adds bulk to his frame.
Strengths: Instinctive DB with very good playing experience. At his best when he can keep the play in front of him. Reads quarterbacks' eyes well and gets a quick jump on the ball. Is an assertive playmaker when the ball is in the air. He's aggressive in every aspect of the game. Displays good ball skills. Spends a lot of time working in the slot, which allows him to be active versus the run and occasionally as a pass rusher when turned loose on the blitz. Is tough for his size. Fills hard versus the run and is a solid open-field tackler. Has good experience on special team's and should be able to contribute on multiple units in the NFL.
Weaknesses: Lacks good top-end speed. Shows stiffness in his hips. Takes too long in transition and will get beat deep if he doesn't turn early enough to protect himself. Lacks catch-up speed when the ball is in the air. He is forced to give too much of a cushion at times, which occasionally leaves him vulnerable to the comeback route. Quicker WR's can shake him with sharp double moves. While tough, he is somewhat lean and lacks ideal overall strength especially if moved to fulltime safety in the NFL. He will struggle to hold up in the box, as bigger blockers can engulf him if they get in position and into his pads. Character is a concern following 2007 arrest (see: History). Mental capacity also is a concern after he missed the Cotton Bowl (2005 season) due to academic reasons.
Overall: In his first three seasons at Alabama (2004-06), Castille appeared in 35 games (16 starts) and recorded 107 tackles (10.5 for losses), three forced fumbles, 21 pass breakups and nine interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. As a senior in 2007, he started all 13 at left cornerback and had 63 tackles (6.5 for losses), 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He has experience on the left and right sides and as a roaming DB-type, and also had six career punt returns for 60 yards (10.0 average). Castille sat out one game in '04 after suffering an MCL sprain in his right knee. He was arrested in August '07 and later found guilty of disorderly conduct, which currently is in the appeal process. Castille is not fluid or fast enough to be left alone in man-to-man coverage with any frequency in the NFL, and he's too small to project as a fulltime starting safety. There are also concerns regarding his problems in the classroom and off-the-field. However, if Castille can get stronger and continue to improve his recognition skills, he has the natural instincts, ball skills and toughness to contribute as a sub-package DB ideally in a zone-heavy scheme. He's also capable of contributing on multiple special teams' units, which helps his cause as a mid-to-late round prospect.
Bradley Glatthaar, RB, 5'11", 245 lbs, Cincinnati (Sports Illustrated)
BIOGRAPHY: Part of a three-back rotation the past two seasons and totaled 48/142/8 on the ground as a senior with three receptions. Led the team in rushing as a sophomore posting 139/620/7.
POSITIVES: Fluid ball-carrier with nice size. Waits for blocks to develop, finds the cut-back lanes, and shows the ability to get around the corner. Smooth for a big man, yet also strong on the inside. Breaks tackles to pick up yardage off initial contact.
NEGATIVES: Not an elusive ball-carrier who makes defenders miss or creates yardage. Marginally productive as a pass-catcher.
ANALYSIS: Glatthaar is a nice-sized ball-carrier with potential as a short-yardage runner.
Anthony Hoke, LB, 6'0", 238 lbs, Cincinnati (NFL Draft Countdown)
Good athleticism...Great speed and quickness with a burst...Excellent pass rusher and a terror off the edge...Offers a lot of potential on special teams...Coming off a fantastic senior campaign..Has showcased some coverage ability..Very productive.
'Tweener who may not have a true pro position..Undersized and doesn't have the ideal height or bulk you look for...Motor runs hot and cold...Relies too much on his speed...Not very strong...Poor instincts and awareness...Questionable work ethic.
Played defensive end in college but he'll most likely have to move to linebacker at the next level...Is the Bearcats second all-time leading sacker behind only Antwan Peek...Played middle linebacker at the Hula Bowl...Cincy has a knack for producing front seven defensive prospects as of late and he will try and be the next...A nice developmental prospect whose best fit at the pro level may come in a 34 scheme.
James Johnson, RB, 5'11", 202 lbs, Kansas St. (Sports Illustrated)
BIOGRAPHY: Junior-college transfer who became a full-time starter last season and posted career-high numbers of 174/1106/12 on the ground and 34/220 as a pass-catcher. Junior-year totals included 403 rushing yards.
POSITIVES: Explosive straight-line ball-carrier who works hard. Quickly gets through the hole, possesses a burst of speed, and can run to daylight in the open field. Displays good vision, avoids piles, and keeps his feet moving up the field.
NEGATIVES: Mostly a straight-line runner who shows marginal quickness trying to cut back against the grain. Lacks the frame to be an interior runner.
ANALYSIS: Johnson is a competitive ball-carrier who could find a spot on a roster as a third running back.
Michael Marquardt, DT, 6'3", 292 lbs Arizona State (Sports Line)
Positives: Has adequate muscle tone and a frame that can carry at least another 20 pounds of bulk without the additional weight affecting his agility … Best when used in a rotation system to keep him fresh … Speed is limited, but he has good initial quickness off the snap to gain advantage on a lethargic blocker … Keeps his hands active to defeat low blocks and shows good field vision to locate and close on the ball … Recognizes blocking schemes and makes good adjustments to combat them … Has the functional lateral range to work down the line in short-area pursuit … Has the hand strength to shock with his punch, but his overall power base is marginal-to-adequate … Active with his hands in attempts to disengage and has enough looseness in his hips to spin off blocks … Shows good urgency to pressure the quarterback, if he gets a free lane into the backfield (will struggle to split double teams) … Has good hand strength to wrap up and take the ballcarrier down … When he keeps his pads down, he has good success flashing off the snap to generate a quick gap charge.
Negatives: Has adequate agility and balance on the move, but lacks the timed speed and overall quickness to give chase on long pursuit … Uses his hands well to defeat blocks, but his overall strength level is marginal for a player his size … Over-aged prospect who will be 26 by the time he arrives in 2008 training camp … Lacks the second step to impact the backfield after he sheds the block … Even when he gets into the backfield, he will not be one who can constantly pressure the pocket due to poor speed … Has good lateral moves working down the line, but looks sluggish redirecting after he plays off a block … Shows good body control making a tackle, but does not show the raw power to explode behind his hits … When he comes off the blocks high, he is instantly pushed out of the rush lanes … Has a strong hand punch, but lacks the technique to counter or beat blocks if his initial move fails.
Compares To: BRIAN YOUNG-New Orleans … Marquardt has good initial quickness off the snap, but is more of a stay-at-home type who is best when the action comes to him rather than pursuing it. He has enough lateral range to flash down the line and when he stays low in his pads, he has decent gap penetration skills. He is just too slow to impact the pocket on a steady basis. He has a strong punch to shock and jolt, but poor technique in attempts to shed. He will need to get stronger and quicker if he hopes to get out of 2008 training camp with a roster spot, but he will be 26 by the time the season begins, a little late to start trying to rectify his deficiencies.
Tyler Whaley, FB, 5'11", 252 lbs, tOSU (ohio state scout)