In what is becoming a yearly trend from various NFL websites, the Bengals have been earning top honors for their efforts in the draft. Along with received nods from NFL gurus like Mel Kiper, Jr., the team is being recognized as being perennial winners in April and receiving kudos to the tune of "knowing how to draft".
In truth, the 2012 draft haul was a tough one to follow-up. It seemed as if every pick provided a player that should have gone at least one round earlier than where they fell into the Bengals' lap. Many of those players played starting and backup roles for the club and look to have an increased role this year. Even so, the Bengals seemed to have struck gold once again in 2013 with a number of players who look to be cracking the lineup.
Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player who now works for NFL.com, gave out a late edition of his top-five draft grades and wouldn't you know it? The Bengals snagged another "A".
It's no coincidence that the Bengals have emerged as perennial playoff contenders in recent years, given that they've strung together a series of productive drafts. This year's draft was no exception, with Cincinnati adding explosive playmakers in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard to an offense brimming with talent. Defensively-speaking, coach Marvin Lewis scooped up a few intriguing pieces in defensive end Margus Hunt, safety Shawn Williams and linebacker Sean Porter. Those three might start the season in backup roles, but their collective talent upgrades the depth of the defense and gives coordinator Mike Zimmer options for exotic sub-package looks. With the Bengals stacking another solid class on top of an already loaded roster, Cincinnati is in position to be a legitimate contender in the AFC for years to come. GRADE: A
Barring any significant injuries, Eifert, Bernard, and Williams should be competing for significant playing time. Porter will likely see quite a bit of time backing up every linebacker spot, as the coaches have indicated. They'll probably find interesting ways to use Hunt early on as well, but as a project player, they will probably go slow with him--especially with the depth on the defensive line.
It's at least the third consecutive year of solid drafting, and one could make the argument that that solid scouting goes back to the 2010 and 2009 drafts that yielded players who are holding significant roles with the club today. Don't look now, but it's becoming par for the course.