As the Bengals are attending the 2017 NFL Combine, many questions are surrounding the club after a 6-9-1 season. What positions need to be added this offseason for the team to have a bounce-back year? Which critical free agents will the team keep?
Cincinnati’s director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, addressed the media in Indianapolis to talk about what’s ahead for the Bengals over the next two months. The Bengals have a slew of picks this year, thanks to four recent additions in the form of compensatory picks, and the hope is that the 11 total selections the club has amassed will push the team back into the playoffs this season.
The Bengals received four more picks in rounds four through seven in this year’s draft class due to losing a handful of major free agents. Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Reggie Nelson, Andre Smith and Emmanuel Lamur played into the formula--which is one that the team prefers to rely on, rather than paying big money on outside free agents. The Bengals signed no players in 2016 who counted against the compensatory pick formula.
“We’ve got 11 draft choices. We’re going to make use of those. We’re going to increase the young talent on our team,” Tobin said. “We’re excited to get those extra picks. We earned them by losing players and we’re going to use them well. (The combine) is obviously one of the most important events we come to. The draft is what we use as the lifeblood of our organization so we’re putting a lot of focus in this as we do for the whole scouting season.”
However, even with the strategy apparently playing into their hands, the club was disappointed in the additional haul.
“This is the first year I can remember the whole system being turned upside down,” Tobin said about Cincinnati’s compensatory picks, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “It used to be there were three third-round picks and 11 seventh-round picks. Now you have 11 third-round picks and three seventh-round picks.”
Tobin’s qualm with “the whole system” resides in the Bengals missing out on getting a third round pick for their losses, and instead getting the first fourth round compensatory pick, first fifth round compensatory pick and first seventh round compensatory pick. That means the Bengals were right on the brink of getting an extra third, extra fourth, and extra sixth round pick. The Bengals are one of four teams to net four comp picks this season. The Browns, Broncos and Chiefs are the other three teams.
Whether it’s because of the importance of the draft or that this is the first year teams can trade compensatory selections, getting the maximum return in this regard is important.
“That tells you how close they were (to being higher picks),” Tobin said of the Bengals getting awarded the first compensatory pick available in three different rounds of the draft. “Was it disappointing? Yeah. But that seems to disappoint us every year.”
Aside from the interesting comment about this being an annual disappointment for the club, it also points to something that may be addressed in the future. Every year, the annual owner’s meetings brings the potential for tweaks on league rules and practices, so the re-evaluation of the compensatory pick formula might be on the discussion table. It sounds like Tobin and the Bengals would welcome the discussion. But, if the Bengals are disappointed in the divvying of compensatory picks on an annual basis, why does the team rely so heavily on the picks?
Tobin isn’t happy that 11 compensatory picks were awarded for the third round of the draft alone.
“It’s a little bit discouraging,” Tobin said. “If you really start to think about it, it really devalues your fourth-round pick when you throw 11 picks on the end of the third round. That’s something that needs to be at least looked at.”
What will be interesting is to see if the team will actually wheel-and-deal some of those compensatory picks this year. Even though the Bengals are coming off of a down year, it seems tough to imagine that all 11 picks will make the team. Though the team is usually quite gun-shy about moving up in the draft, this seems to be a good year to do it with their ammunition.
NFL Compensatory Picks 2017