The Bengals have done well for themselves in the draft over the last few years. They've brought in guys like A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Andre Smith, Michael Johnson and many others that have contributed heavily to the team's success over the past two years. What we remember the most about the draft, of course, is the first few rounds and not the last few. Obviously, the first few rounds are more important because that's when you get the players that contribute right away. The last few rounds are hit and miss, not just for the Bengals but for every team.
Still, most Bengals fans would think that their team would be ranked in the top few teams over the past few seasons when it comes to success in the draft. According to National Football Post, though, they don't even rank in the top half.
According to the folks at NFP, the Bengals come in at No. 22 over the last 10 years when it comes to draft success. The rankings were determined by the drafted players' total amount of games started, the number of active drafted players active in the 2012 season, the average share of annual starts and the number of Pro Bowl players drafted.
There are no players still active on the team from the '02 draft, though Levi Jones started a fair amount of games. There are also no players still active from the '03 draft, but Carson Palmer started many games and went to a couple Pro Bowls. The only player still active from the '04 draft is Robert Geathers. There are no active players from the '05 draft. The '06 draft was fairly successful, giving the Bengals both Domata Peko and Andrew Whitworth. Johnathan Joseph was also drafted in '06.
So most would agree that the Bengals' five-year draft ranking would have to be ranked higher, right? Well most people would be wrong as the team's 5-year draft ranking is still at No. 22.
In '07 the Bengals brought in Leon Hall, but he's the only active player from that class. The Bengals selected Pat Sims and Anthony Collins in '08 among others, but they're the only two active Bengals and neither of them start. In '09 the Bengals had a few good rounds, selecting Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Kevin Huber and Bernard Scott, all of whom have contributed heavily to the team over the last few years. They had another solid year in 2010 by bringing in Jermaine Gresham, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. In 2011 they selected A.J. Green and Andy Dalton along with Clint Boling. Finally this past year they selected Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, Mohamed Sanu, Devon Still, Orson Charles and Brandon Thompson as well as Marvin Jones, but only Zeitler, Sanu, Charles and Jones saw considerable playing time.
The research shows that the Bengals have seen 427 starts from their 47 draft selections over the past five seasons, which is actually tied for second in the NFL. That's great! What's hurting the Bengals, however, is the percentage of annual starts they've seen from draft selections as well as the percentage of active players in 2012. Original Pro Bowl selections weren't exactly breathtaking, to make matters worse. Overall, a similar pattern is seen when reviewing a ten-year sample size.
What's interesting is that Draftmetrics reveals their "expected" value in regards to how they perceived a team to have drafted over each respective time frame. I'm not exactly sure how they arrive to their perception of each NFL team, but they put it out there for you to consider. Draftmetrics expected the Bengals to be ranked first over a ten-year span, but ended up 22nd, and they expected them to be fourth over the last five years, but they ended up being 22nd as well. The Lions and Rams were the only teams to have a wider margin of expectations versus actual results.
It's important to realize that Draftmetrics doesn't consider players that are no longer on the Bengals roster. Players like Johnathan Joseph, Frostee Rucker, or even Jerome Simpson are taken out of the equation here. The system Draftmetrics is using may seem a bit flawed as a result, and they own up to the pros and cons of their research in their work. Don't worry, Akili Smith is well beyond the time frame that they observed, but players like Chris Perry, Kenny Irons, and David Pollack are all considered.
I believe that as the players selected over the last three years mature, the Bengals five-year draft grade will rise. However, until guys like Green, Dalton, Atkins, Smith, Johnson and a few others are successful for another year or two, the Bengals' draft grade over the last five years will be deceivingly low.