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Bengals 21st Century Draft Class Tournament: Round Two - #2 (2011) vs #10 (2014)

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Fresh off pulling the biggest upset in round one, the #10 seeded draft class of 2014 with Dennard and Hill look to pull another upset – this time against the #2 seeded class from 2011 of Dalton and Green.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Welcome to the first Bengals Draft Class Tournament. We have taken the past 16 Bengals draft classes and seeded them one through 16. Consider this our version of March Madness! The tournament will continue until the readers of Cincy Jungle have crowned a winner of the best Bengals draft class of the 21st century. Check out the first round winners and all the details here.

The 2011 draft class comes into this second round matchup as a heavy favorite as the #2 seed, coming off a 99% to 1% victory in their first matchup, while the #10 seeded group from 2014 comes in as a big underdog, pulling the first round upset against Leon Hall’s #7 seeded draft class of 2007.

Despite the two draft classes bringing in the Bengals current quarterbacks, with Dalton taken 35th overall, and McCarron selected 164th overall in their respective drafts, these classes are much more different than similar. In the 2011 the Bengals were sitting with a very high pick at #4 overall, thanks to a horrible 2010 season. They were also looking for a quarterback, as longtime starter, Carson Palmer had called it quits. Meanwhile, the first selection in 2014 came 20 spots lower, and coming off three straight playoff appearances, there were no pressing needs to pursue in the 2014 draft, which could be a smorgasbord of BPA selections.

Bengals 21st Century Draft Tournament

#2 2011 Draft Class

Year

Rnd

Pick

Pos

To

AP1

PB

St

G

College

2011

1

4

A.J. Green

WR

2015

0

5

5

76

Georgia

2011

2

35

Andy Dalton

QB

2015

0

2

5

77

TCU

2011

3

66

Dontay Moch

LB

2014

0

0

0

8

Nevada

2011

4

101

Clint Boling

G

2015

0

0

4

65

Georgia

2011

5

134

Robert Sands

DB

2012

0

0

0

1

West Virginia

2011

6

167

Ryan Whalen

WR

2013

0

0

0

17

Stanford

2011

7

207

Korey Lindsey

DB

2012

0

0

0

0

Southern Illinois

2011

7

246

Jay Finley

RB

2011

0

0

0

0

Baylor

Why the 2011 draft class should advance:

Five consecutive playoff appearances.

The 2011 draft class is five for five in playoff appearances. Only once in their franchise history had the Bengals ever made consecutive playoff appearances, and that was way back in 1981 and 1982 with two straight appearances. The 2011 draft class has done it five times.

Despite the desperate need for a starting quarterback, the Bengals did not reach for one with the fourth overall selection. Instead they stayed true to their board, and selected elite wide receiver A.J. Green. All Green has done is reach five Pro Bowls in five seasons, and set franchise and league records for number of yards and catches to start a career.

The 2011 draft was one with many teams desperate to add a quarterback

Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder all went in the top dozen picks. In total, six quarterbacks were selected in the first 36 picks, and seven went off the boards in the top three rounds. With the Bengals on the clock in the second round, the big debate was whether to take the big-armed, statuesque Ryan Mallett, the project with upside in Colin Kaepernick, or the efficient Andy Dalton, with a high football IQ, but the lowest projected ceiling of the three. Amid mixed feelings in the Bengals war room, and among fans, the team selected Dalton. Five years later, that decision proved to be impeccable. After spending a year and a half as a backup, Kaepernick emerged as a flash in the pan, and is now an overpriced, under-producing backup. Mallett has bounced around the league and is unsure to be on a team next year.

While Green and Dalton absorb, and deserve, the spotlight for the 2011 draft class, the Bengals found a solid starter in round four. Clint Boling has become an effective left guard, who will likely be a long-time starter in the NFL.

Why the 2011 draft class should not advance:

Because the Bengals’ 2011 draft is a total dud after round two

Third round pick Dontay Moch has only played in eight career games. Fifth rounder, Robert Sands, has only played in one career game, which is actually one more than seventh round picks Korey Lindsey and Jay Finley, who never made it into an NFL game. Sixth round receiver Ryan Whalen finished his brief NFL career with only 11 career receptions. In all, five of the Bengals’ last six picks combined for an average of less than five NFL career games played.

Missed opportunity

The Bengals selected defensive back Robert Sands (134 overall) over Richard Sherman (154), and edge rusher Dontay Moch (66 overall) over Justin Houston (70). Sherman's 26 interceptions would have been nicer in Bengals stripes, while Houston's 56 sacks would be quite remarkable alongside Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.

Missed opportunity part two

In a draft stocked full of great players, like J.J. Watt, Patrick Peterson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, Marcell Dareus, Randall Cobb, and so on, the Bengals could have came away with much more. Especially since the Falcons were looking to trade up, which they ultimately did with the Cleveland Browns.

#10 - 2014 Draft Class

Year

Rnd

Pick

Pos

To

AP1

PB

St

G

College/Univ

2014

1

24

Darqueze Dennard

DB

2015

0

0

0

24

Michigan St.

2014

2

55

Jeremy Hill

RB

2015

0

0

2

32

LSU

2014

3

88

Will Clarke

DE

2015

0

0

0

19

West Virginia

2014

4

111

Russell Bodine

C

2015

0

0

2

32

North Carolina

2014

5

164

AJ McCarron

QB

2015

0

0

0

7

Alabama

2014

6

212

Marquis Flowers

LB

2014

0

0

0

16

Arizona

2014

7

239

James Wright

WR

2014

0

0

0

11

LSU

2014

7

252

Lavelle Westbrooks

DB

0

0

0

Georgia Southern

Why the 2014 draft class should advance:

Valuable picks

Once seen as a potential top-10 pick by many analysts, cornerback Darqueze Dennard fell to the Bengals at pick #24. They did not pass on the gift, and scooped him up.

Selected over Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill flashed some impressive skills as a power runner during the second half of the 2014 season when he led the NFL in rushing. If he can return to that form, he could regain the role he held during that stretch as one of the most physical, dominant running backs in the NFL.

AJ McCarron was the ninth quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL draft, taken long after Johnny Manziel in the first round. McCarron has the best touchdown to interception ratio of any quarterback drafted in 2014, and has shown promise as one of the best young backup quarterbacks in the league.

Why the 2014 draft class should not advance

Struggle city

Russell Bodine was quite unimpressive at North Carolina, often getting pushed back like he was a human blocking sled. Not only did the late round prospect get drafted by the Bengals, but they traded up to draft him. But, he did crank out an impressive 42 repetitions at the bench press during the combine. And that was enough for Bengals’ offensive line coach Paul Alexander to overlook every negative aspect of Bodine’s game.

When the Bengals made their first pick at #24 overall, a pair of good cornerbacks were still on the board, with Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett. The Bengals chose Dennard. Was it the correct choice? Only time will tell. But after two seasons Verrett has four times the career interceptions and a Pro-Bowl selection, despite playing in four fewer games.

The Will Clarke selection in round three made little sense. He was too small to be a defensive tackle, and not explosive enough to be a defensive end. Two years, and half a career sack later, and the selection still makes little sense. In fact, 25 players drafted after him have at least as many sacks, including a cornerback, Aaron Colvin, with eight times as many.

Sophomore slump

For half a season Jeremy Hill looked like a real draft steal, helping the Bengals win key games down the stretch of the 2014 season. Unfortunately, his 2015 was quite a disappointment, and he has proven to be a prolific fumbler in his short NFL career. Using a second round pick for the second year in a row for a committee running back may have been a bit excessive, maybe?

Like with most of the Bengals’ drafts, it ended with a dud. Marquis Flowers and James Wright have contributed little, while Lavelle Westbrooks, the slowest cornerback at the combine, struggled to make it to cut-down day with the Bengals. There is still hope though as this draft class approaches their third year in the NFL with seven of the eight picks looking to once again make the roster.