As he does every year, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. graded every NFL team's Draft class. And guess what? He really likes what the Bengals did in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Kiper's grades are based on the following:
- How much overall talent did a team add, based on board position?
- How effectively did they address key personnel voids?
- How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?
And here is the grading scale:
In my mind an A means it's exceptional; a B is pretty good; a C is average, with hits and questions marks; a D means below average with some big questions. An F ... well, keep reading.
So, how did the Bengals do? Well, Kiper isn't surprised to be giving the Bengals a high grade.
Cincinnati Bengals: A-
Top needs: WR, DT, OLB, S
I don't know how long it has been since I've had a low grade on a Cincy class. They have a plan and they consistently get excellent value. In the secondary, Adam Jones is 32 and Dre Kirkpatrick could be an unrestricted free agent next season, so cornerback was a quiet need. The addition of William Jackson III -- a player with exceptional ball skills -- not only made sense, it deprived the rival Steelers from the chance to take him one slot later. Cincy needed a wide receiver or two, and got a pair of guys who can win down the field with ball skills and size in Tyler Boyd and Cody Core, the latter of whom is a sleeper given the size/speed combo. I had Andrew Billings ranked lower than many, but I certainly didn't expect him to be available in Round 4. I would have guessed Round 2. Same story with Christian Westerman, who was my No. 3 guard, so in Round 5 that's a steal. Nick Vigil could be called on early at linebacker with Vontaze Burfict suspended and the group relatively thin. Another solid draft.
Only two teams in the NFL were given an A for their draft classes: the Jaguars and the Ravens. The Ravens had 11 picks in the Draft, so seemingly, the Bengals did more with less. Elsewhere in the AFC North, Kiper graded the Steelers with a B and the Browns with a C.
Additionally, Kiper wrote about the best draft pick for each team, and for the Bengals, he chose second round pick, Tyler Boyd.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh (No. 55 pick)
Boyd is a perfect fit for the Bengals, who entered the draft needing a No. 2 receiver to play opposite A.J. Green. Boyd doesn't have great top-end speed (4.5 range), but he's a silky-smooth route runner with the savvy to find holes in zone coverage. Cincy also got DT Andrew Billings, my No. 45 overall player, in the fourth round. I like him more than many people in the league. He has the quickness and strength to develop into a good rotational player. Add in Christian Westerman, a fifth-rounder who I graded as a third, and this was a good three days for Bengals fans.