Another year and another slew of high marks for the Bengals' efforts in the annual NFL Draft. Though they didn't have their coveted compensatory picks this year, the team made the most of their seven picks.
As we spin around the nation, many pundits have weighed in with their take on each team's haul, and the consensus is that the Bengals' draft grade range falls in the "B" to "A" area. However, we wanted to poll our own contributors who cover the Bengals daily to get their insight on the team's haul.
Cincinnati Bengals 2016 Undrafted Free Agents
Which players are the Bengals signing following the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft? Get all the latest details and rumors here as they come in.
We asked three general questions:
1.) "What was your favorite pick and why?"
2.) "What was your least favorite pick/what would you have changed and why?"
3.) "What is your overall grade for the class?"
Here's what our Cincy Jungle panelists had to say:
Favorite pick: Nick Vigil
The selection of Vigil was the most criticized pick in the Bengals' draft, but in retrospect, it was a great pick. Vigil is off-the-charts when it comes to speed/agility, and he was a cornerstone of one of the nation's most successful college defenses. Utah State players--linebackers, in particular--have enjoyed plenty of NFL success (i.e. Bobby Wagner, Zach Vigil), so criticizing Vigil's lack of competition may not be the most compelling argument.
This wasn't the pick I was most excited about, but I think it's the most underrated pick of the Draft. Taking Vigil not only gives the Bengals' linebacker position some much-needed speed and instincts, but it will also push guys like P.J. Dawson and Marquis Flowers to show more discipline. Oh yeah, and Vigil's selection will even improve special teams even further. People may have thought that the Bengals reached, but in all reality, they got the player they wanted, and he looks like a solid prospect.
Least favorite pick: Tyler Boyd
When a guy who can be a long-term solution at the slot receiver position, as well as potentially compete for return duties, is the worst pick of the Bengals' Draft, you know the team has to be doing something right. To be honest, I just really couldn't find a pick I didn't like in this Draft. I think my not being a huge fan of the Boyd pick mostly has to do with the fact that he's a Pittsburgh guy and that he probably wouldn't be a second-round selection in another Draft class.
That being said, I still love the pick. Boyd has an opportunity to become an immediate contributor. I know plenty of people probably don't like the Cody Core and Clayton Fejedelem picks, but I loved both. The Core pick reminds me a lot of the Marvin Jones pick, and Fejedelem was PFF's best run-stopping safety in the Draft.
Overall Grade for the class: A
I may not be the most unbiased Bengals writer on the planet, but I don't see how this Draft class shouldn't get an A. The Bengals had sneaky needs at the corner and linebacker positions, and they were able to fill both with guys with immense potential. I loved every pick of the Draft, from Round 1 to Round 7, because I believe that each and every player the Bengals selected fits exactly what the team needs. I would've liked to see a defensive end, but the team's ignoring of the position just goes to show that Cincinnati still has hope that Margus Hunt and/or Will Clarke can finally take the next step in 2016.
Favorite pick: Andrew Billings
Every few years, a perfect storm hits where a great prospect falls in the draft, happens to fit a position of need for the Bengals, and they happen to select him. Carlos Dunlap, George Iloka, P.J. Dawson, and Andrew Billings were all such prospects who I was very happy to see land in the Bengals’ lap. Like the others before him, I fully expect Billings’ role in his rookie season to be minimal, but there is nothing to suggest that he should be productive when given his chance.
Least favorite pick: Nick Vigil
If you look at the recent history of the Cincinnati Bengals’ draft trends, you notice an interesting tidbit – they make mid-round head scratching picks, who are taken much higher than where just about everybody had him graded.
From 2007 when they reached for Kenny Irons, all the way through other picks like Jerome Simpson, Chase Coffman, another athletic project in Dontay Moch, or Orson Charles, who they immediately planned to force into a fullback role. In 2013, it was yet one more athletic project in Margus Hunt, and then Shawn Williams, taken ahead of many higher rated safeties. In 2014, Will Clarke and Russell Bodine seemed to be taken much higher than was warranted. Tyler Kroft fit the bill as the pick out of nowhere in the mid rounds the next year. Some of these picks, such as Williams and Kroft, seem to be decent selections in hindsight, but many of these picks look just as bad today as they did when they were made.
It’s hard not to look at 2016 third round pick Nick Vigil and see this same trend continued. He was selected much higher than pretty much everybody had him rated. Watching his video, he does have some positive attributes to his game, but the hope is that they didn’t pass on much better players in the process.
Overall Grade for the Class: A
Andrew Billings & Christian Westerman were immense values for where they were drafted, easily offsetting the reach that Vigil seems to have been. Jackson was a solid pick, taking their top-rated player instead of reaching for positional need. The last two picks seem like they could have been better, but with the low success rate of late round picks in the NFL, it’s hard to ding the team for picks made that late in the draft.
Favorite Pick: Andrew Billings
I think it's pretty hard to argue against the fact that Billings was the steal of the draft. Who knows what this pick will end up looking like in four years? But, when you get a guy with as much upside as he has in the fourth round, you pretty much erase all possibility of the pick being wasted. Some of the biggest criticisms are the fact that he just turned 21 years old in March, and he's only seen as a two-down player.
That said, he's got the kind of strength and power that make him an absolute monster on those two downs. He probably would have been a less-than-stellar pick in the first or second round, where he was expected to be taken, but at pick No. 122, he's an absolute steal. He'll have the chance to learn from one of the best locker room situations in the NFL, while playing alongside one of the NFL's best defensive tackles in Geno Atkins. Even if he doesn't play on third and fourth down, his value is off the charts.
Least Favorite Pick: Tyler Boyd
The Bengals needed a receiver, and they got the guy who they felt was the best value for their pick in Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd. At this point, the Bengals' coaching staff and front office probably deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the draft, however, I'm a bit skeptical from the tape I've seen. He's got all of the pass catching talent in the world, but he just doesn't have the kind of skill set that allows him to pick up many yards after the catch. I love his ability to shake defenders and create windows for success, but he needs to develop more as a runner if they want him to really make an impact.
One thing that people love to talk about are his kick/punt returning abilities, but don't forget that he had some pretty crucial muffed punts in college. The Bengals only need him to be a third or fourth receiving option, at best, with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert locked in in front of him, but it's hard to imagine him breaking through that ceiling--even if someone were to get hurt.
Overall Grade for the class: A
It was really hard to pick a 'favorite' pick out of this incredible group of draft picks. The Bengals are known for being one of the best teams in the NFL on draft day, and they did nothing but reinforce that label with a great haul this year. It was less hard for me to pick a 'least favorite' out of this group because just about every other pick was so incredibly good.
That's not to say that I don't like Tyler Boyd, but every other pick was so incredibly good that the couple of questions I have about him are enough to flag him as my least favorite pick, despite having so many exceptional traits. The Bengals make a statement in the draft every year, but they really made another great one with this class. They will continue to be a playoff team for many years to come if they can keep this up.
Alberto Luque (AKA muertasdetenas)
Favorite pick: Andrew Billings
Least favorite pick: Tyler Boyd
I hope he proves me wrong, but I'm just not sold on any wide receiver from this class, especially in the early rounds. It was the biggest hole they had going into the weekend, and they were clearly taken aback when all the ones they had on their board were drafted just ahead of them in the first. But, I would be much happier had they added a better overall player. Again, they know much more than me, regardless of the position, so I'll continue to trust their judgement.
Overall Grade: A-
They got a pretty good player in the first round and a steal at fourth. I don't know about how Vigil will translate into the NFL, but I think he can add much needed athleticism there. Boyd is the only one that concerns me.
Favorite Pick: Tyler Boyd
The Bengals' biggest need this offseason was at wide receiver after losing both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, and they addressed it early. Sure, it wasn't as early as most thought they should, but the Bengals got a chain-mover and sure-handed guy in Pitt's Boyd, who should be a great complement to A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell. He has the build of Jones with a little higher ceiling than Sanu, and I think he has a chance to really thrive in the offense, if things click early for him.
My favorite part about the pick isn't really Boyd himself, though. It's the fact that the Bengals didn't panic or reach for a lesser wideout in the first round after seeing four go in the nine picks before they were on the clock at No. 24. They stuck to their board, particularly in the first two rounds, and got two quality players in Boyd and William Jackson III.
Least Favorite Pick: Nick Vigil
I'm kind of surprised at the responses of my colleagues here. I like what I've seen and heard about Vigil, but they added another guy to a very crowded linebacker group. And, when your defensive coordinator's most effusive initial praise of the kid was that will push the guys at the end of the positional depth chart, well, yikes. They could have grabbed a couple of other wide receivers there to bolster the group, or a more traditional pass-rusher for additional help there in the third. It sounds like Vigil will be a bit of a utility player, and that's always helpful, but I just didn't see the value there in the third round--even if the Packers were supposedly interested.
Overall Grade: B+
Is there a grade between "B+" and "A-"? I think it's another solid class in a line of about seven straight by the club, but having more picks could have helped them--particularly with the wide receiver issue. They had a few more needs this year than the past couple, so only having seven picks hurt them. A lack of moving up or down, collecting more picks and reaching a little in the third gives me slight pause to catapult the team in a higher grade category. I really like five of the seven picks they made though.
Dadio recently made a Bengals Draft breakdown video. Check it out here: