Some of the biggest names in "NFL Draft Bust" history are linked to the Bengals. Throughout the 1990s, the team was synonymous with draft disappointment and some of that same disappointment leaked into the 2000s as well. However, with the many accolades given to Cincinnati for their ten stellar selections this weekend, one begins to wonder if that stigma has been completely erased.
For instance, if you were watching ESPN's coverage of the draft this weekend, you would have heard Trey Wingo mention that the 2012 Bengals draft class is simply the the most recent in a line of great draft classes. From 2010-2011 the team has drafted four Pro Bowlers (Jermaine Gresham, Geno Atkins, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton) which betters every other NFL team by two draftees.
So what has changed to make the team so successful in the last three or four draft? The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy offers a couple of answers. The first conjecture that Reedy puts out there is the vague reference (that we have all been using) to the shift of power that has swung towards head coach Marvin Lewis that came with his last contract extension with the club.
While speaking to the media, Lewis praised his coaching staff for their hard work and is pleased that everybody appears to be on the same page with the team's draft philosophy.
Lewis has also lauded defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for being diligent in watching tape of prospects.
Added Lewis: "Then, they go in together — the offensive staff and defensive staff — and try and rank the guys offensively and defensively. I think that’s an important process. It’s one that gets everyone to see everything — the running backs coach sees the offensive linemen, the tight ends coach sees the receivers. So everybody on each side of the ball has a good feel for who the guys are, and why.
The coaching staff wasn't the only focus of Lewis' praise. He also credited the scouting department for their diligent work and input for this year's draft.
"Obviously we’ve all worked together — with the personnel people — for awhile now. This is the 10th draft for me. Bill Tobin joined us then. Then Duke (Tobin). Greg Seamon. Jim. Now, adding the two guys (scouts Robert Livingston and Steven Radicevic) this year. Pete Brown. Paul Brown Jr. John Cooper. All the people who go out and spend the time and have the input into the players. We’ve all been together. I think everybody’s comfortable with each other, and it works."
It's the addition of the the two new scouts in Radicevic and Livingston that has critics and fans pointing to the seemingly-exceptional 2012 draft class. The addition of the two new scouts seems to be a result of the perceived organizational changes that we've been murmuring about for the past two seasons.
The last two draft classes worked out well for the team, and it appears that they're on same road of success again this year. Lewis' contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, so whether or not Lewis returns to Cincinnati, let's hope that the positive draft trends of the past three or four years continues.