At this point, it seems like most people can agree that the Bengals finished the 2016 NFL draft with a pretty great haul. Not only did they address certain pressing needs, but they also wound up with players who were seen as huge steals at the positions they were taken. In particular, William Jackson III, Tyler Boyd, and Andrew Billings represent savvy, high-profile picks for them, according to our friends at Pro Football Focus.
The Bengals were one of eight teams who received a grade in the 'A' range. The others were the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams. However, it should also be noted that all of those teams had higher draft picks to work with than the Bengals.
Day 1: Our No. 2-ranked cornerback, Jackson is a steal for the Bengals. His size, speed, change-of-direction and on-field production could make him the best pure cornerback in this class in a few years. Jackson shows excellent ball skills, he can play in any scheme, and perhaps most intriguing is that there is still room for him to improve from a technique standpoint.
Day 2: Boyd ranked No. 10 in the class with a +20.2 receiving grade, although he'll disappear at times before breaking out some nifty-looking routes. Vigil was productive at Utah State, finishing with 136 run stops the last two years, but he struggles to defeat blocks.
Day 3: Billings is an early-round talent that fell through the cracks, but he has great potential after two strong years of grading. Just let him work downhill and destroy blockers. Westerman is one of the best pass-protecting guards in the class, and he adds great depth along the offensive line. Core was overlooked at Ole Miss, but his size and speed make him intriguing.
They were particularly high on the WIlliam Jackson III pick, whom they and many others consider the best pure cornerback in this year's draft. It seemed like the Bengals were gearing up to take one of the top wide receivers in the first round, but fate had other plans as the Browns, Texans, and Redskins all snatched up the three players whom the Bengals had first round grades on - Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, and Josh Doctson.
Their highlight for the Bengals' Day 2 was the selection of Tyler Boyd in the second round. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he had their 10th highest receiving grade of the 2016 draft class (+20.2). He's known for running particularly intelligent and hard to follow routes, although is noted as having a tendency to disappear. They do note Nick Vigil as being a good pick in the third round, but issues with defeating blocks keep him from being noted as a "great" pick. Then again, when you're picking a guy in the third round there's probably going to be some kind of notable issue.
Most analysts and experts agree that the Bengals did the majority of their damage -- in a good way -- on Day 3. They noted that fourth round pick, Andrew Billings, graded strongly for both of his years in college. They also recognized Christian Westerman as one of the best pass blocking guards of the 2016 class, although questions regarding his run blocking ability have been previously noted as one of their concerns.
The final point of discussion was sixth round pick, Cody Core. Working behind a top-level talent like Laquon Treadwell who makes things easy for a college quarterback made it very hard for Core to put up eye catching stats for most NFL teams. However, PFF noted his size and speed as reasons why he could wind up being a successful pick. Don't forget, he was taken with the same overall pick that Tom Brady was taken with all the way back in 2000, No. 199.
Pro Football Focus did not make a reference to the Bengals' seventh round pick, Clayton Fejedelem. It's not terribly surprising, as he wasn't known in many circles as a player who would even necessarily be drafted. However, the Bengals did visit with him and attend his Pro Day. It seemed like a pretty safe bet that the Bengals were gearing up to try to bring him to the team, regardless of whether draft analysts are interested in discussing what he brings to their overall draft class.
All in all, Pro Football Focus gave the Bengals an 'A-' for their efforts in the 2016 NFL draft. That seems about right, as of now, given how well they improvised after losing out on their top choices in the first round, as well as the excellent job they did on Day 3. You could both praise and criticize their Day 2 selections of Boyd and Vigil, although you still have to admit that they both bring plenty of upside to the team, if utilized correctly.