Pro Football Focus released their all-sophomore team on Wednesday without a Bengals player being named, which leads to the predictable musing that asks, who'd even be a nomination? In fact, who is/are the player(s) that really define this class? When we say, the Bengals have been drafting better recently, are we really grouping this draft class into that philosophy? At this rate, after two seasons, their contributions are limited and the future for this class is suspect.
Tyler Eifert spent the season on
short-term Injured Reserve, and was joined by linebacker Sean Porter. Injuries suck. They're also a reality. Eifert figures to have a big impact next season -- but we also said that last year. Players like safety Shawn Williams, linebacker Jayson DiManche (not a draft pick) and running back Rex Burkhead have acquired specific special teams role. Chris Lewis-Harris (another non-draftee) is a poor man's cornerback on a roster full of first-rounders, while linebacker Nico Johnson was brought in to fill the ranks of a depleted linebacker roster.
Defensive end Margus Hunt played 101 pass rushing snaps in 2014, generating seven quarterback disruptions and a quarterback sack. This was a follow-up to a rookie campaign where Hunt posted a shared sack and 11 disruptions on 135 pass rushing snaps. Tanner Hawkinson spent gameday watching from the sidelines and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton played his first snap of significance during the wild card game against the Colts... after spending his entire career on two practice squads.
Then there's running back Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 680 yards and posted 349 yards receiving, while scoring seven overall touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) and generating 1,029 yards from scrimmage. Considering that he missed three games this year and generated similar numbers from his rookie campaign, we could argue that Bernard is playing well... he's definitely the top of this draft class. Le'Veon Bell earned the running back spot on PFF's all-sophomore team (and he should). Bernard had his role redefined later in the season so the team could use more of Jeremy Hill from the backfield.
There's the whole "waiting three years" talking point but it's not like we're demanding that everyone is fired tomorrow -- this is merely an observation on where things are now.
Maybe this is an unfair judgement the '13 class following the '12 group that is arguably Cincinnati's best draft during the Marvin Lewis era where five starters were snagged: safety George Iloka (in the fifth round), guard Kevin Zeitler, wide receivers Mohamed Sanu (third round) and Marvin Jones (fifth round) and rising cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. That doesn't even factor role players like defensive tackles Brandon Thompson and Devon Still. Now suddenly Daniel Herron is making a significant impact for the Indianapolis Colts.
That was a great draft.
The 2013 draft? Eh.