The Award For Best Draft Pick: It's hard to pass up the player that most experts considered as the best wide receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson, who was drafted in the 2007 NFL Draft. Disregarding the fact Johnson has only posted thousand-yard seasons during half of his four year career, the Detroit Lions (maybe that's why) wide receiver has already posted 33 receiving touchdowns.
While the Green selection didn't address the most pressing need, among the rookies this year, he could have the greatest impact.
The Award For Most Obvious Pick: It wasn't until A.J. Green's name was called early in the first round that settled the matter. There were debates on whom the Bengals would select fourth overall. Green was the popular one, but the team liked Patrick Peterson, Von Miller and there was always a hint that they could go with a quarterback like Blaine Gabbert. Truthfully, as the pick came closer, the less likely we felt there would be a quarterback selected.
But midway through the first round, we simply knew that once the Bengals selected again and he was still available, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton was going to be the Bengals future starting quarterback. So confident on the selection, I had written the announcement of the pick for the site 20 picks before it was announced.
The Award For Biggest Surprise Pick: Ryan Whalen. Twice I've made the argument that Whalen's toughness and hardwork goes a long way with Marvin Lewis and company, likely improving the team's overall special teams unit. Yet, when his name was announced, I admit. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It wasn't so much the player himself -- he seems like a very, very fine player. But it was surprising that the team drafted a second receiver when cornerback and running back remained as "obvious" needs.
The Award For Most Likely Week One Starter Drafted On Saturday: Before the draft, offensive line was targeted as a need. Considering that the first round presented an all-star caliber receiver and the second round labeled as the quarterback round, that offensive linemen would have to come at some point after the third round.
On Saturday, it did. The Bengals drafted Georgia guard Clint Boling in the fourth round. A versatile lineman that could play tackle if right tackle doesn't stabilize, Boling is considered a player that could start immediately. Nate Livings and Evan Mathis, the left guards during the past few seasons, are free agents. Mathis has expressed dissatisfaction with the Bengals organization (and we completely understand his position) and Nate Livings is routinely graded as one of the team's worst offensive linemen per Pro Football Focus.
The Award For Bringing The Pain: A.J. Green can make Steelers fans cry for his acrobatic receptions. Andy Dalton can make Ravens fans cry for his accurate passes. Dontay Moch? He'll just bring the pain. At 248 pounds, Moch's 4.4 40-time ranked as the best among all outside linebacker prospects. The scary part? The 248 pounds we referenced earlier.
Moch will begin his Bengals career as a special teamer and a pass rushing specialist. During his final three seasons at Nevada, Moch posted 26 quarterback sacks and 59.5 tackles for loss. In other words, bringing the mother f***ing pain.
The Award For Position Not Picked: Largely because there was such a heavy class of good defensive linemen this year, the Bengals didn't draft a single one. Of the eight picks selected during the 2011 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected three defensive players and two were in the secondary. Was it a need? No. But it didn't help our anxiety to realize that Antwan Odom could return in 2011.
The Award For Biggest Hint At Next Offseason Plan: The two biggest free agents this year, whenever the league year begins, are cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Cedric Benson. How afraid were the Bengals of losing both players? They didn't draft either position until the seventh round, making us conclude that the team feels confident that they could sign both (more on that Sunday).
The Award For Biggest Sleeper: Korey Lindsey, an FCS All-American, could be a surprise pick this year. Some of the words and phrases being used to describe him include, route-recognition, discipline, closing-speed. The biggest concern with Lindsey will be size and his top-end speed of 4.56 could be a liability to faster receivers in the NFL.
The Award For Most Awesome Readers: You. You awesome readers, you.