Let me write down the picks and moves to create a focus:
Round 1: Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard fell to us, and we grabbed him. The 2013 collegiate Thorpe Award, Dennard describes himself as closest to Darrelle Revis, while various Bengal and Viking (Zimmer) coaches feel he is a Leon Hall clone. Either one is good if Dennard approaches such a label. Dennard stands to be the fifth CB on a talented roster including Hall, Pacman Jones, Terrence Newman, and Dre Kirkpatrick - all former NFL 1st Rd draft picks.
Round 2: Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde fell to us, but the brain trust elected to go with LSU RB Jeremy Hill, who will take the roster spot of either BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Rex Burkhead when all is said and done.
Round 3: West Virgina DE William Clarke fell to us, and we grabbed him. The comparisons to Michael Johnson are not too far fetched as their physical measurements only differ by about 1/2" and 5 lbs. He will presumably be the ninth DL on the roster behind DEs Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt, Robert Geathers, and Wallace Gilberry & DTs Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson, and Devon Still.
Round 4: A Bengal rarity! For only the third time in team existence, the Bengals moved up in the round to grab targeted player, North Carolina Center Russell Bodine. Did this surprise you? It did for me. However, Lewis' propaganda included the statement that he wrote in his notebook after an Indy combine interview with Bodine that "I want this player." The feeling is that Bodine can eventually start (with an immediate opportunity to earn that role) and be effective against the massive AFC North NTs due to his great strength and run blocking push abilities. To move up, the Bengals sent Seattle their pick later in the round as well as their regular 6th Round selection. Figure the Bengal OL roster (typically 8 players) will include Whit, Pollak, Zeitler, Smith, Hawkinson, Newhouse, Bodine, and one other (with Boling probably starting on PUP). The "other" guy could be one of the backup roster Centers (Robinson, Johnson), a street FA to be determined, one of the incoming CFAs, or maybe even the ninth life of Dennis Roland (I can hear the shrieks now!). In any case my worry is the backup LT spot. It seems the staff, however, is confident that the combo of Smith, Hawkinson, and Newhouse will be able to meet that challenge should Whit go down.
Round 5: We used this pick to select Alabama QB AJ McCarron one pick after KC took Georgia QB Aaron Murray. Reportedly the Bengals had been closely considering McCarron in pre-draft evaluations along with Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas (taken in the 4th by Arizona) and Pitt's Tom Savage (taken in the 4th by Houston). With respect to this year's QB class, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many analysts had McCarron being taken in the 2nd or 3rd Round. For instance, Mike Mayock rated him at #67 prospect overall; Gil Brandt had him at #54; Mel Kiper Jr. had him at #51; Todd McShay had him at #60; SI.com had him at #58; and CBSSports.com had him at #102. That's an average ranking of approximately #67 and a median ranking of #59. We learned later that some scouts were turned off by McCarron's apparent overly high ranking of his relative worth with one quoted in PFT as saying that he's "delusional" when asked about McCarron's pre-draft expectations of going between 16 and 35 overall. In any case the consensus written analysis of McCarron seems to converge on the description that he lacks elite arm strength, throws a wobbly spiral, and lacks upper tier speed while possessing excellent leadership, pocket presence, and short-to-intermediate passing skills. After all that is said, what does it mean for us? As Mel Brooks explains in the movie Space Balls, "Absolutely nothing." However, this was a good value pick and allowed us to acquire a player who has as good of a shot of any of the mid-round QB prospects this year of emerging and succeeding in the league. For the record, I don't think his career will prove to be highly successful; let's hope I'm wrong or that Andy Dalton extends here and continues to be the staple for a while. McCarron should make the roster as the 3rd QB behind Dalton and vet Jason Campbell.
Round 6: Although we lost our regular pick in the round to the move up in the 4th for Bodine, we had a Comp that we used to select Arizona LB Marquis Flowers who would seem at this time to be most likely headed to the PS for seasoning once all is said and done this summer. Flowers appears to be targeted to the "High LB" role that the team is using with Mays and Lamur in mind, and Flowers has similar physical features and abilities to these two 'tweeners. At this point Mays would be considered to be part of a 5-man Safety roster that would also include Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Daniel Manning, and Shawn WIlliams. Lamur, on the other hand, would be considered to be part of a 6-man LB roster that would arguably include Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, Vinnie Rey, Jayson DiManche, and Sean Porter.
Round 7: We finished up the draft by taking LSU WR James Wright with our regular pick and Georgia Southern CB Lavelle Westbrooks with our Comp pick. Wright, who backed up early picks Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, was a core STs player for LSU and evidently sparked our scouts' interest during the evaluation process. He would figure to be a PS candidate behind a 6-man WR roster that includes AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, and two the three other remaining vets (Whalen, Sanzenbacher, Hamilton). Westbrooks at best should probably also compete for a CB spot on the PS.
So overall we grabbed 5 new roster players in the draft along with three more guys who can battle for the PS. We didn't address TE where Gresham, Eifert, and Charles are favorites to return. We didn't address FB where we're picking up CFAs to battle with Kevin Brock and maybe Alex Smith as HBack/TE alternatives to the traditional FB option. We also didn't address Specialist positions where we likely will see a return of our 2013 LS, K and P.
We didn't really upgrade our run blocking substantially even though the new Center Russell Bodine may help with that in time. We did potentially increase our power running game on the carrier side however with the addition of Hill. Whether you can improve the running game by improving only the carry side without increasing the push remains to be seen. The defense is looking good if we stay healthy and if Guenther can keep the momentum that Zimmer's inertia provided. The O will again depend on whether Andy Dalton can get his act to the next level - despite great stats last year, he really failed at this goal of going to the "next level." Hue Jackson might be an upgrade as a coordinator with a different approach - we'll see.
My impression therefore of the draft is that it helped neutralize the big losses we had in UFA this year but didn't really take us farther up the track of success. We'll have to do that with luck and better game planning.