Rather than personally grading everything with arbitrary unweighted letters about our team, I figure it was now time to point out the grades, or reactions, on how the Bengals did in the eyes of more mainstream national guys. Yea, I know you don't care. But there has to be some fascination on people's perceptions of us. Right? Anyway, if I reacted to everything, then, well, I'd have to take off from work for the next week. After providing the first one, I'm going to force you to work by moving finger over left mouse button and firmly, yet gently, pressing down on "Continue Reading this post".
The Bengals had a lot of picks and they did a good job getting good quality with their quantity. Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson are great ways to start a draft for any team. These guys could fill big holes for the Bengals. The fourth-round selection of offensive lineman Jonathan Luigs was a little high, but it wasn't crazy. The late-round picks weren't anything to write home about, but they did a good job of getting strength in numbers and getting some depth for their team.
Best pick: ILB Rey Maualuga, USC (second round, No. 38 overall)
Worst pick: RB Bernard Scott, Abilene Christian (sixth round, No. 209 overall)
Bottom line: The only issue I have with this draft is that the Bengals continue to put themselves in jeopardy from a character standpoint. While the immaturity of OT Andre Smith and past off-the-field incidents for Maualuga can be overlooked, why on earth would Cincinnati draft Scott in the sixth round? He has bounced around to four different colleges and has reportedly been arrested at least five times since high school. Still, you could make an argument that this is the best top-to-bottom group in the draft. Smith could solidify the offensive line, while Maualuga and DE Michael Johnson could thrive under the tutelage of head coach Marvin Lewis. If Maualuga can become more consistent and Johnson can be motivated to reach his considerable potential, they will become very good NFL players. Other great values include TE Chase Coffman in the third round and C Jonathan Luigs in the fourth, both of whom should become starters in the next few years.
I want to be careful about this, because I don't want to paint the individuals listed below as bad people, because I certainly don't think that's true. Everyone's got their flaws, and the fact that these guys have overcome them to accomplish as much as they have in football says a lot of them, too.
But from the standpoint of the Cincinnati Bengals, with all the issues with character that they've had on their football team ... wouldn't you like to see more quotes in here like, "great motor, loves playing football, works hard on and off the field, never takes a play off, a tremendous natural leader, and stays out of trouble off the field"?
They recant that later.
This has a chance to be one of the best drafts in Bengals history, especially if Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith and USC middle linebacker Rey Maualuga develop into All-Pro performers. Both have the ability to be great NFL players. Maualuga slid into the second round because of off-the-field issues, plus the fact that he didn't call the defense at USC despite being a middle linebacker. But Maualuga is an upbeat, physical player who can lead in the locker room. Smith's bad body got him in trouble with some teams, but he weighed in at 333 pounds this week, plus Alabama head coach Nick Saban totally supported his status as a high pick.
Missouri TE Chase Coffman, 6-5, broke his foot in the Alamo Bowl game vs. Northwestern, but he has a pro pedigree, being the son of former Packers tight end Paul Coffman. Georgia Tech pass rusher Michael Johnson has great physical skills although many scouts thought he took many plays off on Saturdays. A local kid, Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber, won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter last season. Grade: A
Cincinnati. Hard to knock this draft. Impossible, quite frankly. Might be the most starry top four since Hunley-Koch-Blados-Esiason of 1984. Andre Smith is a potential star left tackle who needs coaching and someone to lean on him ... Maualuga is the best tackler in the draft and shouldn't have been there when the Bengals picked at 38 ... Michael Johnson, as inconsistent a player as this draft featured, is a pass-rush-prospect steal at 70 ... Chase Coffman could play early as a second TE for Carson Palmer. Nice day for the Bengals.
Positives: Smith, Maualuga and Johnson have plenty of talent.
Negatives: Attitude and work ethic issues with both Smith and Johnson.
Bottom line: B-. As usual, the Bengals got the best players at whatever spot they drafted. Andre Smith was arguably the best left tackle in the draft before his stock fell after leaving the scouting combine without telling anybody in February and then being out of shape for his pro day workout. Maualuga is a terrific pickup in the second round, arguably the best inside linebacker in the draft and continues to upgrade the Bengals linebacking corps after getting Keith Rivers last year. Likewise, Johnson is a tremendously gifted athlete as an edge rusher with his height and reach, but his work ethic has been questioned. The Bengals simply don’t factor in character when they pick, making their choices almost always boom-or-bust propositions.
For a team known through the years for its penchant of making some dubious choices early in the draft -- see Frostee Rucker, Odell Thurman, and Chris Perry -- the Bengals impressed me in 2009. Offensive tackle Andre Smith in the first round, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in the second round, and defensive end Michael Johnson in the third round strike me as great value in just the right draft slots.
B. OT Andre Smith carries some question marks but he is a superior blocker and got great references from Alabama coach Nick Saban. Conditioning and weight will always be questions. LB Rey Maualuga slipped into second round, should bring some toughness to the middle of a leaky run defense. He's a hitter. Some saw DE Michael Johnson as a first-round talent and Bengals got him in third. Edge rusher. TE Chase Coffman is a steal in the third.
John Clayton after the first day:
Bengals owner Mike Brown would rather draft a top offensive lineman than a skill-position player. In 2002, Brown drafted left tackle Levi Brown instead of tight end Jeremy Shockey in the first round. So it shouldn't have been a surprise to see the Bengals take offensive tackle Andre Smith over wide receiver Michael Crabtree, despite Cincinnati's need at receiver after the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency.
John Clayton after the second day:
What's going on with the Bengals? Cincinnati's Day 2 drafting was as solid as its Day 1 selections. There were no reaches, no controversies and even a nice story. The Bengals earned good grades for first-day selections Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga. On the second day, they left themselves without much criticism after taking defensive end Michael Johnson, tight end Chase Coffman and center Jonathan Luigs, who might start. The good story was taking University of Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber, who learned of the selection while golfing. The secret to their success was the Senior Bowl; the Bengals coached four of their draft choices in that game.
Clark Judge speaks to Kevin Huber directly: "I'd bring a lot of ice for that leg, Kevin. You're going to need it."