Well, it's successful on paper for the time being. We still need to give these players several years to develop and grow into their NFL roles before we can really grade this draft. However, if we're going just off how guys graded out as prospects and when they were expected to be drafted, this was a great haul for Cincinnati.
Over at coldomaha.com, Arif Hasan (also of Daily Norseman) just put out his final rankings for how all 32 NFL teams did in the draft based on how highly the players they took were projected prior to the draft (it's similar to our Assessing the Value series we did in 2015).
Hasan collected over 40 draft boards and combined them to showcase how players were ranked overall. The rankings are based on a roundup of big boards by such names as Gil Brandt’s at NFL.com, Rob Rang’s at CBS, Nolan Nawrocki’s in his own guide, Lance Zierlein’s at NFL.com, Mike Mayock’s at NFL.com, Todd McShay’s at ESPN.com, Chris Burke at Sports Illustrated and ESPN's Mel Kiper among others.
So when it came to a guy like Houston cornerback Will Jackson, his average ranking was 24, which is right where the Bengals got hm in the draft. It also helped that the Bengals got Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd at pick No. 55 after he was ranked 51st overall.
But the real value for Cincinnati came in Baylor nose tackle Andrew Billings, who came in at No. 25 in Hasan's rankings. For the Bengals to get him in Round 4 at pick No. 123 is really what made their draft as good as it was.
Another great value for the Bengals was getting Arizona State guard Christian Westerman in Round 5. He was ranked 68th overall coming into the draft, so getting him with pick No. 161 was almost as big of a steal as Billings.
All of this helped the Bengals earn the fourth-best draft rating in Hasan's rankings. Cincinnati also had the fifth-best rating in terms of the cumulative total of the past three drafts. That's not surprising since the Bengals are on a nice streak of good/great drafts, at least in terms of how highly the players they got were ranked prior to the draft.
A big reason why the Bengals do so well is they consistently draft players with picks close to said players' pre-draft rankings while getting some big late-round steals. AJ McCarron (2014, Round 5), Derron Smith (2015, Round 6) and now Billings and Westerman are among some of the huge steals they've gotten that have helped make that ranking so high.