Shank's Bengals Draft Grade

When grading a draft, I think it is important to use a weighted grading system. We’re all familiar with weighted grading. We all remember from high-school and college that a weekly homework assignment didn’t carry as much weight as a final exam.

Likewise, it wouldn’t be very reasonable to assign an equal value to a 1st round pick and a compensatory 7th round pick. Everyone understands those picks have a very different value… so why wouldn’t we consider that value when grading?

Rather than reinvent the wheel and assign arbitrary values to each pick… I chose to use the draft pick value chart. Some will argue with the validity of this chart – but until there is another tool developed for this purpose, it’s the only standard that I know of. (Side note: the draft value chart only extends to pick #224, so I assigned the compensatory 7th round picks #240 and #251 the same value as pick #224).

Bengals Picks/Values (per the Draft Pick Trade Value Chart):

21 = 800 points

37 = 530 points

53 = 370 points

84 = 170 points

118 = 58 points

156 = 29 points

190 = 15.4 points

197 = 12.6 points

240 = 2 points

251 = 2 points

Pick #21: Tyler Eifert, TE

What I like about the pick:

Dalton needs more weapons. Eifert can go and get the ball, even when the throw is not accurate, or he is heavily covered. That’s exactly what Dalton needs. This also changes the entire offense. 2 TEs, 2 WRs, and 1 RB is called 12 Personnel. Teams typically run the ball with this grouping… so it keeps the opposing defense in base. Line both TEs in-line and the defense has to keep 8 in the box to maintain all the gaps, leaving one of the WRs in single coverage. Eifert can also line up wide (3WR set), and the defense has to choose; put a LB or S out wide (making it easier to run the ball), or cover the slot WR with a LB or Safety (mismatch). Good stuff.

What I dislike about the pick:

When the Bengals pick came up, I was hoping for a trade down to gain an extra 3rd round pick. The Bengals had some needs, and gaining an extra day 2 pick would have allowed them to fill all the needs and have a couple luxury picks. Instead the Bengals used their 1st round pick as a luxury pick… which could easily force them to reach for need later in the draft. But the pick came in so quickly, it’s pretty obvious that this was a guy the Bengals were targeting – so it’s hard to complain too much.

Grade: A- (720 points out of a possible 800) Great value and added options – just not a position of need.

Pick #37: Gio Bernard, RB.

What I like about the pick:

Did I mention Dalton needs weapons? Bernard was my favorite RB to watch in this entire draft. He is explosive and versatile. A perfect compliment to BJGE. He will force defenses to respect the running game… which means less bracket coverage for AJ Green. And Bernard's ability as a receiver effectively doubles the mismatches that can be created using 12 Personnel (How are you going to effectively cover Green, Sanu, Eifert, Gresham, and Bernard with only 2 CBs on the field?). Bernard’s talent level typically requires a 1st round pick. This offense has no more excuses. Dalton is a veteran now and finally has top tier weapons. It’s time to take the next step.

What I dislike about the pick:

You could argue that other quality RBs were available later in the draft, and that is true... but I don’t fault the Bengals for being bold enough to get their guy. My only concern are the injury issues. He is going to be a star… as long as he stays healthy. But there are reasons to fear that he can’t hold up. Other NFL teams must have feared it too… because without the injury history, his talent suggests a 1st round grade. Not to mention that Chris Perry and Kenny Irons are enough reason to give any Bengal fan pause.

Grade: A (504 out of a possible 530). I’m willing to look past the injury concern for the most talented player in the draft at a position of desperate need.

Pick 53: Margus Hunt, DE.

What I like about the pick:

Did you see the combine? I don’t feel like I have to say much more. The Bengals D-Line is full of physical freaks… and he might make them all look like average athletes. Zimmer’s favorite way to confuse QBs is using zone blitzing. This means you need a DE that has the athletic ability to move in space… not just pin his ears back and rush the passer. Given the smile on Zimmer’s face during the press conference, it’s obvious that he believes this guy can do what he’s going to ask of him. And I’ve learned to trust Zimmer.

What I dislike about the pick:

I would have rather had DJ Swearinger here. It’s also a bit of a gamble. I believe Zimmer can get the most out of Hunt… but he has a ton to learn. He overpowered guys in college because he was so much stronger than the opposition… but that’s not going to work in the NFL. He’s too tall. He’s going to have trouble getting low to bull rush as an interior lineman, and he’s at a natural disadvantage to turn the corner on OTs at 6’8”. It also means that the Bengals are probably going to let either MJ or Dunlap walk… and likely requires the Bengals to carry 9 D-Linemen on the roster this year. That’s a bit of a handicap at other positions.

Grade: B - (300 out of a possible 370). This grade could go up significantly in a couple years, but I don’t see him getting much playing time as a rookie.

Pick 84: Shawn Williams, S.

What I like about the pick:

Dude plays angry… and he’s smart. That’s a rare combo. Watching his highlights on YouTube is a real pleasure. He also ran one of the fastest 40 yard dashes among safeties at the combine. Translation: This defensive roster is going to be very tough to run the ball on. After watching Ray Rice and Arian Foster hurt the Bengals the last two years… a good run stopping safety is a welcome addition.

What I dislike about the pick:

Shawn Williams says he can cover… but I haven’t seen it. His highlights are nice… but his game cut-ups leave something to be desired. Marvin Lewis says they want a safety who has flexibility, can turn his hips and cover… and I’d be curious to know what Marvin has seen that makes him think Williams fits that description. This is where the luxury picks of Eifert and Hunt hurt the Bengals… forcing them to take a starting safety in round 3. This felt like a reach for need. I mentioned it earlier, but I would have rather had Swearinger at #53. Who would have known that Okafor would have still been available at this pick?

Grade: C+ (133 out of a possible 170 points).

Pick 118: Sean Porter, LB.

What I like about this pick:

LB was a major need in my opinion. Burfict, Maualuga, and Harrison make up one of the least athletic LB corps I’ve seen. Porter is athletic and versatile. In the NFL he will probably be at his best on the weak side… but he played all over the field in college and should be able to back-up all three LB positions. For the future, I could easily envision Burfict moving inside to Mike and Porter becoming the starting Will. But that most likely won’t happen right away unless there is a serious injury.

What I dislike about the pick:

There isn’t a whole lot to dislike about this pick. This felt like a good value pick at a position of need in the 4th round. He’s going to need some coaching… but again, he’s a 4th round pick, and the Bengals won’t ask him to start right away – so there’s time. If there is a downside, it’s that this pick might mean the Bengals don’t bring back Thomas Howard , who was my favorite Bengals linebacker before injury.

Grade: A (56 out of a possible 58 points). A solid pick at a position of need makes it difficult to complain.

Pick 156: Tanner Hawkinson, OT.

What I like about the pick:

Depending on how Wharton’s recover is going, the Bengals have very little depth at OG. So there is a need on the O-Line. Paul Alexander has a reasonably good history with O-Line projects, and this guy fits the bill as a versatile guy that he tends to target.

What I dislike about the pick:

Um… who? I’m not going to lie. Before he was picked, I had never heard the guy’s name. Which leads me to believe it’s bad value. And while I mentioned that Alexander has a reasonable history with projects… the fact that he likes to practice them at multiple positions means that they don’t develop terribly quickly. He has turned undrafted free agents into NFL starters… but usually after they have spent multiple seasons in the practice squad. A 5th round pick is probably going to stick on the roster… and that means Hawkinson needs to be able to play if there is an injury. I don’t feel overly optimistic about that prospect – and it feels like they could have had this guy in the 7th round.

Grade: D+ (19 points out of a possible 29 points)

Pick 190: Rex Burkhead, RB.

What I like about the pick:

I think Burkhead brings more to the table than most people think. He just knows how to make first downs. I’ve heard comparisons to Brian Leonard – and while I think they are different, they both have that quality of knowing where the 1st down marker is and finding a way to get there. He’s a better receiver than the way he was used at Nebraska’s run heavy offense… so I think he’ll be a good 3rd down back in the NFL, and his ability to covert 1st downs in clutch situations will make him a fan favorite.

What I dislike about the pick:

While Burkhead will be a serviceable back… the Bengals could have significantly revamped the RB corps if they had taken a different RB in the 5th round and waited on Hawkinson. Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy, Mike Gillislee and, Kenjon Barner were available at 156 – and while I don’t know it for a fact, I suspect Hawkinson would have still been there are pick 190. But none of that is Burkhead’s fault and he was a solid pick.

Grade: A- (14 out of a possible 15.4 points).

Pick 197: Cobi Hamilton, WR.

What I like about the pick:

Hamilton is a big receiver with good speed. The Bengals have a few decent slot WRs, but other than AJ Green and Marvin Jones, they lack a lot of pure speed that can play on the outside. Hamilton fits the bill in that role.

What I dislike about the pick:

Hamilton is the latest in a long line of late round WRs the Bengals draft. Frankly, I have very little faith that he will fare better than the others. Maurice Mann, Tab Perry, Bennie Brazell, Mario Urratia, Freddie Brown, and Dez Briscoe make up a few names of late round WRs that Bengal fans get excited about to no avail. Will this be different? With the new weapons the Bengals have added, combined with Green, Sanu, Hawkins, and Jones... I just don’t see him making an impact on the Bengals roster. Hopefully he can play Special Teams.

Grade: C (9.5 out of a possible 12.6).

Pick 240: Reid Fragel, OT.

What I like about this pick:

This should say “What I love about this pick” because this feels like a home run. Fragel has only played OT for a couple years… and is still getting used to playing with the added weight as a converted TE… but he has the ability. I don’t see a need for Dennis Roland on the roster anymore… as Fragel should be able to fill his role immediately – and eventually develop into a starter a few years down the road. Great value in the 7th round.

What I dislike about the pick:

What’s to dislike? I don’t see a downside. How often do you get a 7th round pick that you feel confident will not only make the roster but can eventually be groomed into a solid starter.

Grade: A+ (2 out of a possible 2 points).

Pick 251: T.J. Johnson, C.

What I like about the pick:

He’s smart, but lacks technique. Feels like a practice squad player… as there’s no way he makes the roster ahead of Cook and Robinson. But only 4 picks away from Mr. Irrelevant, what do you expect? Maybe Paul Alexander can groom another gem.

What I dislike about the pick:

Another O-Lineman when they’ve already taken two, and it’s unlikely that this one makes the roster. I guess you could argue that they should have taken a flier on a player low-risk, high-reward type player like Miguel Maysonett or Da’Rick Rogers – but I confess, I’m running low on energy here and can’t work up much ire for the 251st pick in the draft.

Grade: C (1.5 out of a possible 2 points.

Final Grade for entire Bengals Draft:

1,759 out of a possible 1,989 points. 88.4% = B+

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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