How much did the Bengals love Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft?
They had him rated among the best at his position in this draft class, and high enough that they spent the 85th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on him. They also apparently liked Kroft more than Maxx Williams, who the Ravens took in the second round.
That's what Bengals.com's Butch Hobson wrote about Cincinnati's thought process in Rounds 2 and 3:
If you look at the guys drafted right behind (Jake) Fisher in the second round, you've got running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Maxx Williams, a guy they had rated below the tight end they took in the third, (Tyler) Kroft.
Call me nuts, but I thought their two biggest needs were a blocking tight end and another playmaking linebacker and they got both in the third.
It's hard to see how a team could have Kroft rated ahead of Williams, who was easily the best tight end prospect in terms of 'just' pure talent.
The 6'4", 249-pound Williams led Minnesota in receptions (36), yards (569) and receiving touchdowns (eight) this past season. That made him a finalist for the 2014 John Mackey Award, which honors the nation's top tight end every year.
While the production and potential are there with Williams, the character that Cincinnati desires in its players may not be, as evidenced by the below info from Williams' NFL.com profile:
"That Minnesota tight end came across as all about himself from what people in our room said (at the combine). They were a little turned off by him." -- NFC regional scout
NFL COMPARISON: Jeremy Shockey
Like Williams, Shockey was a tremendous talent who seemed to rub teammates the wrong way. When he was on the Giants, they won the 2007 Super Bowl, but he missed the game after a season-ending leg injury.
NFL Draft 2015: Bengals select Tyler Kroft
The Bengals were expected to grab a tight end, and they took one in the third round with the 85th overall selection.
Maybe the Bengals saw a great talent in Williams, but not a great teammate. That's part of why they took Oregon tackle Jake Fisher in the second round, knowing they could probably get Kroft in Round 3.
When Cincinnati took Fisher, you could have made an argument Williams was a better prospect and filled a bigger position of need. With Tyler Eifert still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and having yet to show he can be durable, having a good No. 2 tight end is more of a need now than having a backup tackle who might start next year.
While the Bengals didn't directly pick Kroft over Williams, they essentially passed on the latter to get the former. Now Williams is in Baltimore, where he'll likely be their No. 1 tight end this year, and for the foreseeable future.
It will be interesting to see how Kroft and Williams pan out in the NFL, especially since they're now in the same division.