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Bengals 2016 Draft grade roundup and playing Devil’s Advocate

Everybody seems to love the Bengals’ 2016 draft class, but can a case be made that it is not as great as it seems?

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Fans and media analysts alike are praising the Bengals for yet another great draft. Much of the media recorded "A" grades for how well the Bengals drafted:

The Bengals seem to have pursued the draft philosophy of selecting good value players who fell to them instead of reaching for positional needs. But is this the case? Did the Bengals get good players and good values in their draft selections?

I'm taking a look at the Cincinnati Bengals' 2016 draft picks from the perspective of the Devil's Advocate and trying to construct arguments which run contrary to the consensus report of the Bengals securing yet another great draft.

Disclaimer: These views may not be a personal opinion regarding each pick, but are an attempt to find fault with each of the selections, if any fault can be found. We'd love to hear from you on how you value the selections the Bengals made.

#24 - William Jackson III, CB

Yes, this pick was a solid value, but so what? Could this pick be Dre Kirkpatrick all over again. Kirkpatrick was a good value, and one of the top cornerbacks, but drafted by a team that already had Terence Newman, Nate Clements, Adam Jones, and Leon Hall. Kirkpatrick only started five games in his first three seasons – that’s not much value from a first round pick. Will Jackson enters into a similar situation, behind Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and possibly Josh Shaw.

There will more pressing needs than a fifth string cornerback, no matter how good the value was. The Bengals desperately need a wide receiver behind A.J. Green, and both Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas could have been much better pickups than Tyler Boyd in the second round, even if the value was better to take a receiver in Round 2 than reach for one in Round 1.

The Bengals also missed out on a chance to upgrade at center with Nick Martin, or to grab a true steal with draft fallers Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith.

#55 – Tyler Boyd, WR

After seeing the big three of Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, and Laquon Treadwell drafted ahead of them, the Bengals missed out on the next tier of Michael Thomas and Sterling Shepard, grabbing Tyler Boyd instead. Boyd might be a great player, with upside of Andre Caldwell production, but this pick was a grasp at desperation after the better options slipped away.

#87 – Nick Vigil, LB

There's nothing wrong about taking a linebacker from Utah State, but at least make sure you grab the right one. Kyler Fackrell was considered the better prospect – bigger, taller, more explosive. Vigil is too small to play as a middle linebacker, and not fast enough to play outside. Joshua Perry would have been a much better pickup here, if the Bengals wanted a linebacker. They passed on some good players like Javon Hargrave, Perry, Fackrell, Miles Killebrew, Malcolm Mitchell and Hassan Ridgeway to reach for a linebacker who likely won’t see the field this season.

#122 – Andrew Billings, DT

Just because Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, Todd McShay and the other talking heads from the media had him rated higher than every team in the NFL, doesn’t mean the kid is a great value. There is a reason Billings was available in round four, and a reason why Kiper, Mayock, and McShay don’t work for NFL teams.

With Geno Atkins playing the role of the penetrating lineman, and Marcus Hardison as his backup, the Bengals have no need, or roster spots at that position, which leaves the nose tackle role on the defensive line. The team isn’t going to part with Domata Peko this year, and the duo of Pat Sims and Brandon Thompson have played well in their reserve roles rotating behind him. There really is no need or room for Billings on the roster. What the Bengals can use is a pass rush, which they could have had with Matt Judon, selected two dozen picks after Billings. Also, with every running back not named Jeremy Hill set to become a free agent after this season, the Bengals could have opted for Kenneth Dixon, who would have been a good value at this spot.

#161 – Christian Westerman, OG

Westerman might be a fine guard, but has nowhere to play on the Bengals’ offensive line. Left guard Clint Boling is signed for the next four seasons. Right guard Kevin Zeitler is slated to become a free agent after this year, but the team has a history of resigning their own, which means Zeitler is a likely candidate to be the target of an extension from the Bengals. If Zeitler walks, the team has Trey Hopkins, who has looked good when given an opportunity, plus a pair of tackles drafted last year, fighting for the right tackle spot with Andrew Whitworth maintaining the left tackle position.

So if Westerman doesn’t play guard, you might suggest he play center. The Bengals do have a need for an upgrade at center. But that won’t happen because the Bengals coaches seem to love Bodine regardless of what he does on the field. Westerman only benched pressed 225 pounds 34 times at the Combine. Consider that the previous center Kyle Cook pumped out 40 repetitions on the bench press at his Pro Day, and current center Russell Bodine put up 42 repetitions at the Combine. Westerman’s numbers are very good, but just not good enough to warrant a look at center by Paul Alexander.

#199 – Cody Core, WR

For a team with no experienced depth at wide receiver behind A.J. Green other than Brandon Tate and Brandon LaFell, it seems that a little more emphasis should have been placed on the position than a project with good measurables at this spot.

Core could be a decent special team player with potential to be an NFL receiver in a few years, but for a team that is need to lean heavily on unproven pass catchers in James Wright, Tyler Boyd, Mario Alford, and Jake Kumerow, more emphasis should have been placed on a receiver who has a chance of playing wide receiver in the next couple of years. Mike Thomas, Devin Lucien, Daniel Braverman, and Charone Peake would have all been better options than Core, who could have likely been added as an undrafted free agent.

#245 – Clayton Fejedelem, S

If the Bengals were looking for a safety, Jeremy Cash could have been a much better option, and value. Speaking of value, Jack Allen, Scooby Wright, Kalan Reed, and Shawn Oakman would have been much better picks than a guy who was a borderline undrafted free agent. The Bengals have a need at safety depth, but they could have done much better than a prospect who might not have the skills or athletic ability to make it to cut-down day.


Ultimately if the arguments against the Bengals' Draft class hold water, then the class is not as good as first thought. But if the arguments are unconvincing, then the draft class is truly a great draft class. So what do you think, do the arguments fall flat, or do they raise doubts about the Bengals' selections?

Share your opinion by voting and commenting.