From day one, the Bengals draft class in 2010 was being slightly underrated. They snagged one of the best TE prospects to come out in recent memory (Jermaine Gresham), they picked up one of the top pass rushers in the second round (Carlos Dunlap), and then they were able to fill in some needs by picking up a true slot receiver (Jordan Shipley), a defensive tackle (Geno Atkins) and linebacker (Roddrick Muckelroy). Pretty solid. What did the experts think? Most graded it out as a "B."
What nobody projected is that all of the players listed above would become solid contributors in their rookie season. Gresham caught 52 passes and lead all rookie tight ends in that category. Not even seeing the field for the first quarter of the season, Carlos Dunlap lead the team in sacks and was second in the league among rookies. Jordan Shipley was second among rookie WRs in receptions and became known as Carson Palmer's favorite safety valve on third downs. Despite seeing limited action on passing downs, Geno Atkins (aka Taz) tied for sixth among rookies in QB sacks with 3 - a list that included first round picks Tyson Alualu, Brandon Graham and Gerald McCoy. And for Muckelroy? Besides having the best name in the draft, Muck lead the team in special teams tackles last season, and filled in well at times at the linebacker position. So what grade would you give this group? Me? I'm with Ludwig. The 2010 draft class gets a resounding "A."
Commenting on the 2010 class Ludwig writes,
After years of ineptitude, Cincinnati’s personnel department finally hit a home run in 2010 with five of the top six picks making significant contributions. Tight end Jermaine Gresham, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and wide receiver Jordan Shipley emerged as impact players, while defensive tackle Geno Atkins and middle linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy performed well enough to be considered fourth-round steals.
The question now is this: Did the Bengals just get lucky in 2010, or are they beginning to hit their stride in their scouting department (if you are allowed to call it that). It's been argued that Marvin Lewis deserves a lot of credit for the Bengals shying away from flashy players that Mike Brown seems to adore, opting instead for players with substance. Neither Jordan Shipley, Roddick Muckelroy, nor Geno Atkins were considered workout warriors by any stretch of the imagination, but all of them were praised for their body of work on the field. When the Bengals selected Gresham, they passed up on the WR diva extrodinaire Dez Bryant. And even their flashiest pick last year - Carlos Dunlap - was such a great value in the second round that it would have been foolish to pass him up.
Though Ludwig grades the 2009 draft class as a "C+" that too, could have easily been better had it not been for the disappointing play of the sixth overall pick,
Tubs McGee Andre Smith. Michael Johnson has proved to be an effective player as have Rey Maualuga, Morgan Trent and Bernard Scott.
So are the Bengals hitting their stride in the draft process? Here's hoping.