Simply because the Cincinnati Bengals acquired wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati Bengals 2011 draft class was already deemed a success. Yet there were six other players drafted.
If we're to believe that three years is the common standard for grading a certain class from the NFL draft, we might as well mark this as the halfway point for the team's 2011 class. Next week will be the eighth game of the season and the true midpoint of the season, but swimming through the muck of a Bye Week, why not now.
Also. A quick note before we dig into this draft class. We're not really going to talk about A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, the first and second round selection respectively and two of the team's highest profile players, asserting they've made this class a success. We pick it up in the third round.
DONTAY MOCH (Third Round, 66th Overall): Unfortunately Moch is headed towards a Shakespearean-type tragedy at this rate. Though on the 53-man roster during his rookie season last year, Moch was a gameday inactive during every game. A foot injury suffered during the preseason opener held Moch out of practice through the first four games of the season last year, compounded by migraines that sidelined him all season.
Leading the team with 3.5 quarterback sacks during the preseason this year, it seemed that Moch was poised to finally make his debut; if not some form of a breakout. Instead he served a four-game suspension to start the year, followed by a one-week exemption, delaying his NFL debut until Week Six against the Cleveland Browns.
He was a gameday inactive against the Steelers in Week Seven, missing one practice that week to attend the birth of his daughter.
CLINT BOLING (Fourth Round, 101st Overall): When the announcement was made that starting right guard Bobbie Williams would face a season-opening four-game suspension last year, the Bengals plugged Boling, a fourth-round rookie in 2011, as the starting right guard. Then after starting the first three games against the Browns, Broncos and 49ers, Boling was pulled after struggling during the ground game. He was replaced by Mike McGlynn, currently a starting offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts.
Eventually Williams returned and Boling participated in just one offensive snap during the final 12 games of the 2011 regular season.
Yet as they say, history repeated itself. This time the "it" wasn't a suspension, rather a season-ending knee injury to Travelle Wharton, plugging Boling in at left guard.
And he has thrived since.
Rated as the fourth-best left guard by Pro Football Focus and the second-best overall offensive guard in all of football pass blocking, Boling may force the team into a conundrum next season when Wharton returns. But it's a good issue to have three guards, including Kevin Zeitler, on the roster that can handle their own as starters in the AFC North.
ROBERT SANDS (Fifth Round, 134th Overall): Only played one game last season, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, mostly on special teams. Was in the early running for the strong safety vacancy this year with Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles -- which Chris Crocker is slowly recapturing from Nate Clements. What?
Yet his role within whatever competition remained dissolved after the second-year player suffered a chest injury against the Atlanta Falcons during special teams, requiring season-ending surgery.
RYAN WHALEN (Sixth Round, 167th Overall): Remained on the 53-man roster throughout his rookie campaign, posting four regular season receptions for 27 yards receiving; three of which were generated against the Arizona Cardinals on Week 16. Additionally Whalen caught two passes for 24 yards receiving during the team's Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans.
Returned to the 53-man roster in 2012 as a seventh receiver, making his regular season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers, posting a career-high four receptions for 31 yards receiving during the game. Among the wide receivers, he took part in the second-most snaps during the game with 33 (out of 50).
KOREY LINDSEY (Seventh Round, 207th Overall): After the Bengals waived him during final cuts last year, Lindsey signed onto the Arizona Cardinals 53-man roster for three games (didn't play), before resuming the season on their practice squad.
The Indianapolis Colts claimed Lindsey off waivers this year during the offseason, but the cornerback was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a concussion.
JAY FINLEY (Seventh Round, 246th Overall): At the time we supposed Finley was drafted as seventh-round fodder, and we were largely correct on that assumption. Cincinnati waived Finley during final cuts in 2011, not even bothering to sign him back to the practice squad.
He eventually found his way onto Seattle's practice squad. He's absent from Google searches after that.