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Assessing Mario Alford's Draft Value

Mario Alford was projected by some as an early day 3 pick in the NFL draft. He managed to fall to near the end of the draft to a Bengals team that needed exactly what he offers.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the Bengals' final pick in the 2015 NFL draft, No. 238 overall, they grabbed Mario Alford out of West Virginia University.

Though it came in Round 7, Alford could make as big of an impact in Cincinnati as any rookie this year. Not only does he possess the kind of blazing speed the Bengals need more of, but he's a dynamic returner who could unseat Brandon Tate as the team's primary return man.

Alford caught the team's eye when he flashed a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash to highlight his speed. The 5'8", 180-pound receiver caught 65 passes for 945 yards and a Big 12-leading 11 scores. Alford also returned 37 kickoffs for 972 yards, with a 26.3 yard/return average and two touchdowns.

So, how did draft experts rate Smith in their pre-draft rankings?

  •'s Lance Zierlein had Alford rated as a "Round 5" prospect while comparing him to Browns receiver/returner Travis Benjamin.
  • Alford was also the 190th-overall prospect in's rankings, two spots behind Ravens' second-round pick Maxx Williams, 11 spots behind Titans second-round pick Jeremiah Poutasi, and five spots behind Patriots' third-round pick Geneo Grissom.
  • Mel Kiper had him 117th in his final rankings.
  • Todd McShay ranked Alford as his 206th-best prospect.
  • Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked him as the 191st-best prospect.
  • Mocking the Draft had Alford as their 188th-overall prospect.
  • CBS Sports had Dawson ranked as their No. 213 prospect.

If you average all six of those rankings, Smith had a draft ranking of 184.17, meaning he should gone somewhere in the early-mid sixth round. Given the Bengals drafted him with the 197th pick in the sixth round, it shows they got very good value with Smith at this spot.