Merry Draftmas Who Dey Nation!
Thanks for taking the time to look at my draft analysis! First I present my thoughts on the Bengals top needs, then I have 10 Player Boards for each pick in the first four rounds, and I wrap it up with two sets of draft scenarios for whether or not we have Andre Smith. Definitely appreciate your feedback and comments!
- Right Tackle
- Running Back
- Defensive End
- Wide Receiver
- Left Tackle
- Corner Back
I think most of Who Dey Nation would agree that our top needs are Safety and Running Back. Andre Smith's situation entirely dictates the Right Tackle need, but I don't see a lot of elite RT talent after Fluker and I don't think we'll reach for one since Travelle Wharton might step in, Anthony Collins is okay as a one year stop-gap, and there's still a strong chance we re-sign Big Andre after the draft anyway.
Where I seem to differ with some here is that I'm not satisfied at all with our situation at Center. Cook has had his moments and Robinson seems to have some talent, but if we're going to have an open competition for Center this summer, why not bring in some elite level talent to act as a measuring stick. Travis Frederick, Barrett Jones and Brian Schwenke are three Centers that I really like. I think all three could win the starting job this summer and can be had at the bottom of the second or third round.
Needs 5-8 are more luxury picks or in the event of a falling player who's too good to pass up. I could easily see the Bengals going BPA and taking a DE, WR or CB in the first round. There won't be any LT talent we'd grab that high, but a Terron Armstead or Kyle Long in the second or third round wouldn't surprise me at all.
10 Player Board by Round
The only reason I have Kenny Vaccaro ahead of DJ Fluker in the first round is because I still think we'll end up re-signing Andre Smith. Fluker is a better player at a more important position, but when I look at our Safeties, I hate what I see after Nelson.
DJ Hayden has been a fast riser on my board since Mayock and Cosell both made him their #1 CB. Word on the street is that Zimmer has really been digging into him and he might be our sleeper BPA first round pick. It isn't a strong need, but the last time we drafted first round Corner Backs in back to back years it worked out pretty well. Hayden or Rhodes could also free us up to move Dre Kirkpatrick or Leon Hall to Safety. I wouldn't mind a nickel set with Hall/Hayden/Jones at CB and Nelson/Kirkpatrick at Safety.
Eric Reid and Johnathan Cyprien are neck and neck after the CBs. Cyprien sounds like he has a higher ceiling, but he is more of a SS and Marvin likes his Safeties to be more like a FS when it comes to coverage skills. Reid is a true FS with strong coverage skills, but isn't as consistent with his tackling as Cyprien.
I know a lot of people here are in love with Nuke, and I am too, but I think Patterson has a higher ceiling with his speed. Our offense needs difference makers and Patterson's 4.33 speed would make it nearly impossible to double AJ Green every play.
I've watched game tape on every Running Back in this draft and I've fallen head over heels for Giovani Bernard. I think he's by far the best fit for us and wouldn't be disappointed at all if we picked him in the first round, especially if we traded back a couple spots. There were two things in particular that stood out to me. The first thing was his vision and decision-making. You could clearly see him reading his blocking and making the right cuts behind the line, which seems basic, but I saw a lot of runs where Eddie Lacy just ran into the back of his linemen. The second thing that stood out is his pass catching ability. His 92 career catches are 34 more than the back with the second most catches, Johnathan Franklin with 58. Gio also had two seasons with 40+ catches and Franklin played four seasons with three of them where he caught 10 of less passes. Franklin would be an okay consolation prize, but I think Giovani Bernard could have the biggest impact on our offense in the draft besides drafting a stud Center.
This big board has two players I included out of obligation, but I secretly hope someone else takes. Matt Elam is very talented and I love his ability to force fumbles, but his coverage skills won't mesh with Zimmer's system. Menelik Watson is another very talented player with a high upside, but I just feel like he's overrated, doesn't have the size we normally look for at RT, and his inexperience scares me too much to invest one of our first two picks unless we traded back and got another third rounder.
Okafor, Jones and Allen could be good value here, but they could also slide to our 2b pick. Margus Hunt is hard to place because he's an athletic freak and we love us some athletic freaks on the d-line. If we decide we'd rather give Dunlap the long-term extension next year and let Michael Johnson hit free agency, Hunt would be a great pick to step into the starting lineup his second year.
I think pick 53 is going to be a perfect spot to solidify our offensive line. I think Brennan Williams is a safer pick than reaching for Menelik Watson and fits the body type we look for at RT. He opened plenty of holes for Giovani Bernard the last two years and I think he will be a solid starter. If the coaches really want to find a starter at RT, Williams might be our best bet.
If we want to be sure we snag one of the top 2 centers, this is where we'd do it. They might slip to the third, but I don't think they'd make it all the way to us at 84. Drafting an interior lineman from Wisconsin worked out for us pretty well last year and pairing Zeitler back up with Fredericks might really add some power to our running game. I'm sure Zeitler has had given the coaches his perspective after playing with Fredericks, Cook and Robinson the past two years. A pick that smells even more like the Bengals is Barrett Jones out of Alabama because of his versatility and intelligence. He has 25 starts at Right Guard (All-SEC, 3rd team All American), 10 at Left Tackle (won the Outland Trophy, Jacobs Blocking Trophy and consensus All American), and his last 14 at Center (All-SEC, All American). He also won the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy recognizing the nation's top scholar-athlete. I love this kid. Hand him the reigns and we've got our starting Center for the next 10 years.
I'm also a big fan of David Amerson and his 17 interceptions, but he might be too much of a gambler for Zimmer. I love our secondary, but it was a weak season for interceptions, especially considering our pass rush. Justin Hunter is a guy who could challenge for playing time at WR and has all the talent to be dominant. He's about the same size as AJ Green, but faster (not better obviously, but he has the measureables).
There is some really intriguing talent in the third round. Mathieu is polarizing, but there's no denying he's a playmaker. Kyle Long is a bit raw, but if he lasts this long, he could be a great replacement for Whitworth in a year or two. If we can't get either of the top two centers, who I really prefer, Brian Schwenke is the best of the rest, and some like Mayock think he's the best Center in the draft, period. Bacarri Rambo has all the talent, but seems like he could be a headache. Lattimore and Barner should go in the 4th round, but I think someone will reach for them, and that someone could be us depending on earlier picks. Montee Ball is safe, but I wouldn't get too excited over him. DJ Swearinger, TJ McDonald and Phillip Thomas are the last starting-talent level safeties that fit our scheme, so if we haven't gotten a safety yet, here's the place to do it. I hope we pick one with one of our first three picks though.
The fourth round is where we normally find our gems and I think it's more likely someone from my earlier big boards will fall to us here. Tyrann Mathieu, Kyle Long, Lattimore, Barner could all slip to the fourth round. If no one slips, there are still some gems in the rough.
These scenarios assume that we've re-signed Andre Smith, are confident we'll re-sign him after the draft, or if we're planning on picking up Winston Justice or another FA Right Tackle. I try to balance need with value at each pick and have included a Wild Card scenario in case they surprise us and go with a DE or CB they have rated higher than anyone else.
If we're moving on from Andre Smith and want to build in the draft, it has a huge impact. DJ Fluker is a no-brainer if he's there, but that doesn't seem likely with the tackle-needy teams picking before us. I'd rather have Brennan Williams at 53 than gamble our first rounder on Menelik Watson, but if Watson is there at 37, he might be a good value.
Would love to hear what everyone thinks about the rankings and picks. I'll be active here before and during the draft, so I'll see you on the other posts! WHO DEY!!!