Grading The Bengals 2013 Draft Class

USA TODAY Sports

Grades may feel pointless because they're subjective to the person handing out the grades, but they do provide a good starting point for expectations regarding the incoming rookies.

21 - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
As everyone has said, this was a Best Player Available pick. Eifert was the third-highest rated player on my board and he presented an opportunity to improve the offense in the short term and insurance at tight end after 2014.

Why I like the pick: Eifert possesses rare talents. He can high-point any football and has absolute control over his hands and feet. His ball-skills are in an elite category for not only tight ends, but wide receivers. Eifert is as much of a receiver as he is a tight end and that's going to cause troubles for defenses. He's open even if he's covered and this makes Andy Dalton a better quarterback. This pick is not just spent on a tight end, it's effectively spent on a TE, WR and a way to improve your QB.


Why I didn't like the pick: It didn't exactly fill an immediate need. Most would've said safety and running back were the two biggest holes, but after Eric Reid was picked at 18, you could tell this pick wasn't going to address a need. Jonathan Cyprien could've been the pick at 21, but small schools seem to scare the Bengals.

Value: +6 (Eifert was 15th on my board, the Bengals selected him at 21.)
Grade: B+


37 - Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
With no running backs selected in round-one, the Bengals blinked first and went back-to-back offense with Bernard after Eifert. Adding a legitimate ground game to this offense will have have the biggest impact to this team in 2013. Not only did they add some talent on the ground, Bernard may have been the best all-around back in the passing game in the draft.

Why I like the pick: Giovani Bernard was my best available player on my board and has been my number-one running back since I broke down this entire class in January. I couldn't be anymore thrilled to have him in stripes while having my personal evaluations backed-up by the Bengals selection. Gio is the most talented back this team has had since Corey Dillon. This isn't a developmental pick, Bernard should end up carrying the bulk in 2013 on talent alone. He wasn't far behind last year's rookie sensation Doug Martin, in my evaluation. Look for an immediate impact.

Why I didn't like this pick: The value of running back and where to select one is a whole other story. The Bengals picked who they wanted and we're happy, but when Johnathan Franklin gets picked in the 3rd round and Andre Ellington goes in the 6th round, you start to question the value. Would you rather have a safety at 37 and a RB like Franklin at 84? Which scenario presents more talent?

Value: +17
Grade: A-

53 - Margus Hunt, DL, SMU
You had to figure a defensive end selection was coming soon with he contracts of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson expiring after 2013. Hunt is a project and shouldn't be relied upon until 2014, anyway.

Why I like the pick: Margus Hunt is a freak athlete. It is very rare to find a defensive end at his size that can run and bench like he didn't at the Scouting Combine. Like, seriously, only Jason Pierre-Paul and Mario Williams have similar measurements. When you watch Hunt, he has no clue what he's doing and still gets pressures and sacks. His closing speed is incredible and I trust this coaching staff to develop defensive line talent like they have over the past four seasons.

Why I didn't like this pick: Hunt is more athlete than football player at this point. It's the little things that he lacks. He's too narrow and it robs his strength. He's very poor versus the run because he can't get low and he isn't very physical. He's raw, and already 25 years-old. By the time he's ready to become a full-time starter, how old will he be? And will his age limit his growth? Oh, and I'll always link Margus Hunt to Arthur Brown since the Ravens drafted him.

Value: -17
Grade: C+

84 - Shawn Williams, S, Georgia
The Bengals tap their SEC farm team once again. Safety was their biggest need on defense and Williams wasn't the Georgia prospect I expected with this pick. After a moment of surprise, the pick made more sense.

Why I like the pick: The Bengals couldn't pair just any safety with their other starter in Reggie Nelson. That's why Chris Crocker has been so valuable; he's the brains back there. Shawn Williams was the quarterback of the Bulldogs secondary and that fits exactly what they need.

Why I didn't like the pick: I wasn't very high on Williams on tape. He's bulky, stiff and an average athlete. He seems to take risks and doesn't have the physical ability to recover. He's a strong safety only and the Bengals usually like to interchange their two safeties. I like the mental fit, but I'm still questioning the physical aspect. I had Williams as a fifth round prospect, but I thought he'd be the kind that stuck in the NFL for many years.

Value: -63
Grade: C+

118 - Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M
Three straight defensive picks and this one made the most sense. Porter was a higher rated prospect coming into the 2012 season, but he didn't progress the way most expected and that caused him to slip a bit in 2013.

Why I like the pick: The Bengals needed to add some athleticism at linebacker and also find an outside LB. Porter fills both of those needs. At A&M, Porter played all three LB spots, rushed the passer, covered the slot and tight ends. He did everything and will find a way to contribute in Cincinnati.

Why I didn't like the pick: Porter comes into a crowded linebacker depth chart without a real position. He kind of fits every position, but none at all. He has underachieved at A&M and still needs a to add bulk.

Value: +31
Grade: A-

156 - Tanner Hawkinson - T/G - Kansas
After re-signing Andre Smith just before their second-round pick, offensive line became a depth and future need target. Hawkinson provides the coveted versatility and upside offensive line coach Paul Alexander loves.

Why I like this pick: Hawkinson is a polished, versatile lineman that really only needs a position and an NFL training regimen. If he can add some strength/bulk without losing much athleticism and flexibility, the Bengals could have a nice backup for the game day active roster.

Why I didn't like the pick: I couldn't find anybody that had Hawkinson as the best available lineman in round five. I didn't even grade him because I heard he'd be a late round pick at best.

Value: 0 (Wasn't on my board)
Grade: C

190 - Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
The Bengals double-dip at running back to completely overhaul their least talented position on the team. Burkhead gives the Bengals a young version of Brian Leonard.

Why I like the pick: While he may not be fast, Burkhead can be very quick. He's a smart and tough runner who knows exactly where the first-down marker is. His best asset is in the passing game. Burkhead has great hands and is an intelligent pass protector despite not being very strong. He seems to have a Nebraska cult following.

Why I didn't like the pick: Burkhead is more of the same that is currently on the Bengals roster. He's likely a special teams player and bottom of the roster runner. He's going to battle Cedric Peerman, Bernard Scott and Daniel Herron for two spots. If they wanted to go RB, I would've liked a speedier or bigger runner, but Burkhead does provide some third down capabilities.

Value: +3
Grade: C+

196 - Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas
You couldn't leave this draft without taking one receiver because of how deep the talent pool was. Cobi Hamilton fits their size/speed profile and has a chance to stick on what has become a tight depth chart.

Why I like he pick: Hamilton offers good straight-line speed and size. He has some very productive performances under his belt and flashes high upside frequently. I had Hamilton as a 4th/5th round prospect.

Why I didn't like the pick: Hamilton isn't physical enough and sometimes fights the football when catching. Any type of contact can completely throw him off in the middle of a play.

Value: +26
Grade: B+

240 - Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State
The Bengals make one of the biggest value picks of the draft in Reid Fragel.

Why I like the pick: Fragel was one of the players I really liked pre-draft. As a former tight end, Fragel is athletic, has light feet and good balance. As he's filled out and added strength, he has become a better blocker. He has left tackle upside. Being a former TE, Fragel is the perfect jumbo TE to replace Dennis Roland.

Why I didn't like the pick: Reports started surfacing that Fragel had work ethic concerns and that was the reason for his drop.

Value: +130
Grade: A

261 - T.J. Johnson, C/G, South Carolina
The Bengals selected their third offensive lineman of the draft with Johnson joining Hawkinson and Fragel.

Why I like the pick: Your backup center should be able to play guard also and Johnson can do that. He is very experienced and can hopefully step into a roster spot should Kyle Cook lose his battle with Trevor Robinson at center.

Why I didn't like the pick: They didn't draft me.

Value: 0 (Not on my board)
Grade: C+

Overall, I felt like they added talent to every need position while setting themselves up for future years. This is the fourth good draft class in a row and that should point to a championship caliber team.

Total draft class value: +133
Draft Class Grade: B+

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