DAY ONE STARTER(S)
Shawn Williams, SS (Third Round): An enforcer-style hitter against the run that takes decent angles. Not necessarily strong against the pass, but you have to figure that Reggie Nelson will be the team's free safety, tasked with more coverages. Lays players out, but with better body control and coordination than Taylor Mays.
Of the draft picks selected throughout the 2013 NFL draft, Williams is the most likely starter. However one shouldn't grade this draft based on the number of year one starters they've obtained. There is a lot of "future" applied this year, which is rather confusing to older Bengals fans who are unaccustomed to long-term planning (like me) from this team.
IMMEDIATE IMPACT PLAYERS
Tyler Eifert, TE (First Round): Designed to give Andy Dalton a significant weapon in the passing game. Great during contested passes, can play from anywhere on the line of scrimmage and passable as a blocker. Will be an immediate impact player, especially as a red zone threat. Won't replace Jermaine Gresham, rather a hybridization of a wide receiver and tight end. Application being applied regarding a trend being set around the league with multiple tight ends.
Bernard Giovani, RB (Second Round): Perhaps the most popular selection this year among Bengals fans, Giovani figures to be an immediate impact player. Quick, good acceleration and vision. Hits the hole hard that cuts on a dime. Also an impressive weapon for Andy Dalton in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield. Will split carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, likely third down back that could also return kickoffs. Very exciting.
Margus Hunt, DE (Second Round): A behemoth of a man, relentless and strong. Leverage could be an issue and could rely too much with his strength. Decent instincts on the film watched, ability to track down players from behind. Very raw and stiff, started playing football late in his life. Not an immediate contributor on defense, but could evetually rotate into the defensive line rotation. Will have an immediate impact on special teams to block kicks. Could be a development player identified as a contingency based on the expiring contracts with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. However he'll get on the field on defense and special teams. Oh, and he's huge.
Sean Porter, OLB (Fourth Round): Decent pass rusher that generated 9.5 quarterback sacks and 17.0 tackles for loss in 2011. Capable of backing up every linebacker spot, figures to be an immediate contributor on special teams. Won't surpass James Harrison as the starter but Harrison won't stick around for long. Porter could ease in as a starter once Harrison leaves in a year or two.
Rex Burkhead, RB (Sixth Round): Called a younger version of Brian Leonard, some could argue that he's an upgrade over Leonard (not important to debate now). Tough with decent hands and someone that could excel on special teams, the Bengals needed and found a player that replaced a departing Leonard. He should quickly find a home on special teams with sporadic snaps on offense (at least in the beginning).
Cobi Hamilton, WR (Seventh Round): We're split. Hamilton appears destined for a roster battle heading into training camp, possibly against Brandon Tate and Ryan Whalen, assuming that Andrew Hawkins is locked on the 53-man roster behind A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Tate signed a one-year deal worth a minimum $715,000 during the offseason while Ryan Whalen, signed through 2014, has 11 career receptions for 80 yards receiving. Provided he doesn't have a disastrous training camp, Hamilton should make the team, but it will be through special teams.
Reid Fragel, OT (Seventh Round): Believed to be a steal in the seventh round, Fragel actually has questions following him to Cincinnati. Projected as a mid-round selection, one suspicion for his fall into the seventh is his inexperience and some questioning work ethic issues. Either way Fragel fits the Dennis Roland position as a backup offensive tackle that can play a sixth lineman in jumbo package. Fragel is more athletic than Roland, having played tight end with the Buckeyes, even posting 14 receptions for 185 yards receiving. Look at it this way. Jumbo package doesn't automatically dictate a run.
Tanner Hawkinson, OL (Fifth Round): A questionable pick, perhaps a little soon. Hawkinson has good mobility and lateral movement that can backup every position on the offensive line. Not an immediate contributor, much less an impact player. Developmental project for offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who needs to develop strength. Thought the team would draft Reid Fragel by this point.
"Smart guy," Alexander told reporters on Saturday. "Very athletic. His athleticism reminds me in some style to Steinbach, not as good though. He needs some strength. Needs to grow into it and he'll be a good player."
T.J. Johnson, C (Seventh Round): Not sure of the decision to draft Johnson, other than as a developmental utility player between the guards. But that would be a more accurate description for Hawkinson in terms of "utility". We don't see the team releasing Kyle Cook or Trevor Robinson. Perhaps destined for the practice squad, or a throw-away pick, or camp fodder.
Marvin Lewis is high on the kid though.
“T.J. Johnson, the center from South Carolina, it’s the same thing with him. He played a lot of football down there. He ran the show and did a great job in their offense, which is a lot of shotgun, not in the huddle with a lot of changing at the line of scrimmage. He’s a really smart guy, able to handle all those things that they do offensively, and he’s played against some of the best players and top prospects down there in the SEC week in and week out."