Following every NFL draft is the accumulation of grades, reactions and analysis, simplifying (maybe even trivializing) the weekend with arbitrary letters used in comparison with every team in the NFL. Most grades are completely subject to the writer's perception. Talent added, addressing key needs and value of those selections. Everyone has a different point of view.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Cincinnati Bengals an "A-" overall (In$ider), one of three teams to "earn" his highest grade. Addressing needs the Bengals received a "B+" and based on value, an "A-"
The Bengals somehow didn't address a pretty big need early (and they don't have many) and still really impressed me. The pick of Tyler Eifert is just a steal (I had him No. 8 on my final Big Board). You have a good QB, but a limited one -- Andy Dalton isn't going to carve teams up down the field. But with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Eifert, you have guys that don't need to be open to be thrown to. Try dealing with all three on the field in the red zone. Eifert to Cincy is a great case of a team simply pouncing when the value gets too good.
Giovani Bernard gives them a new dimension in the run game, ironically because he can actually catch the ball. He was the most versatile RB on my board, and getting the first RB taken at No. 37 overall isn't bad. The Bengals D-line continues to be filled with long, athletic freaks with the addition of Margus Hunt. I know Hunt's a project, but he's a great bet at No. 53 overall. He can almost block enough kicks to justify that pick given how weirdly effective he is at it.
They did get their safety in Round 3. Shawn Williams has a chance to beat out Taylor Mays. Sean Porter can back up James Harrison, who's now 35. Cobi Hamilton has a chance to stick. And Reid Fragel could be a steal in the seventh. The Bengals seem to be a groove with the draft, the only downside being the picks that came via the Carson Palmer deal are now spent. It was fun while it lasted.
Compared to the rest of the AFC North, Kiper gave the Baltimore Ravens one of the coveted "A-" grades, the Steelers a solid "B" and the Browns a "C+". Baltimore, Cincinnati and the St. Louis Rams received the highest grades, all with an "A-". The Buffalo Bills received the worst ("C-"), largely because quarterback E.J. Manuel was selected too high.