The 2015 NFL draft is over, and we gathered our staff to pick out which Bengals draft selection we liked the most.
We had nominees from throughout the draft and even into Round 7. That's what happens when you have a draft like Cincinnati's, which has been universally praised.
How about the 7th round pick, Mario Alford. The Bengals got a steal with this player at pick 235. He has the 4.27 40 speed that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson loves. He can serve a role in the offense similar to what Andrew Hawkins provided years ago - a speedy playmaker coming off the bench. He's not a fantastic route runner, and he's not as quick as Hawkins, but he can take any play to the house with his electric speed. And he's a threat over the top on go routes. More importantly though, he's the best chance this team has had in a while at replacing Brandon Tate as the team's kick returner.
Paul Dawson. The Bengals selected a guy who reminds them of their most productive linebacker. They grabbed him in a spot where they did not have to reach. Some experts are even saying he could be a starter in his rookie year. The Bengals left off last season with the linebacker position as a question mark but with productive rookies and healthy guys, it could be a strength on this defense.
Jake Fisher. I had a strong feeling that we were picking two OL this draft, I just didn't expect it to be back-to-back in rounds 1 & 2. Not sexy. Not immediate starters, but I believe these two maulers will be used in Jumbo packages and rotate in as needed during some games. Jake's a great pass-blocker and that's critical for Dalton. He does need to get stronger but I can't imagine a better locker room for which that can take place: a brand new workout room and a dozen guys who cranked out the best bench press numbers for their draft class. In a couple of years I believe Fisher will be the Bengals' starting LT.
It's easily Paul Dawson for me. I don't expect Vontaze Burfict to play in the first half of this season, if at all, so having another WLB ready to start is critical. Dawson can come in and start from Day 1 and give Cincinnati as much production as they got from that spot last year when Burfict was in and out of the lineup and Vinny Rey started most of the year.
This also allows Vinny to go back to more of a backup role at both WLB and MLB while also focusing on special teams more. There's also the possibility Dawson starts at MLB with Vinny at WLB and Rey Maualuga or Emmanuel Lamur at SLB. However it ends up, Dawson gives the Bengals depth and the ability to tinker with the lineup rather than be forced into something that doesn't work.
Paul Dawson. Dawson fell further in the draft than many anticipated he would, and he's the most likely of the first three Bengals' draft picks to contribute this year. Also, how could you not like a guy who says stuff like this.
Jake Fisher. Fisher is a big and athletic tackle (former TE) whom many had a late first round grade on and the Bengals managed to get him late in the second round. I think the Bengals would have been happy to take him at No. 21 had Ogbuehi been off the board.
C.J. Uzomah, and you might be thinking what...huh and feverishly scrolling to the comments section to blast me, but wait. Here's why I think this is the best pick and it has nothing to do with Uzomah's play on the field. I'd never heard of C.J. before he was picked in the 5th round and that's why it's the best pick. If Marvin Lewis hadn't drawn a line in the sand in 2010 we wouldn't have the scouting department that we do. Whether Uzomah turns out to be a diamond in the rough is yet to be seen, but the fact that the scouts found a guy who might be is something I'm happy with that. From C.J.'s measurable he compares a lot to Gresham, without the holds and fumbles. He has soft hands and from the tape I have watched, he was known as a high character guy, and was a respected team leader.