Here is a look at three winners and two losers as a result of the Bengals’ first-round selection of speedy Washington wide receiver John Ross.
The Bengals now have one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the NFL, and that’s great news for Andy Dalton. He already had A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, two Pro Bowl-caliber players in their own right, but now he has a brand new weapon in John Ross.
The speedy Washington receiver gives Dalton a nice deep-threat receiver who can also make big plays underneath, which may be where he does his damage with opposing defenses focusing on Green.
Ross is a DeSean Jackson-type of pass-catcher who can use his speed to make big plays from anywhere on the field. To have that in this offense has to make Dalton smiling big coming out of the draft.
Just like Dalton, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is a very happy man after the selection of Ross. It was clear last season that Zampese was a downgrade from Hue Jackson and Jay Gruden, enough that many wondered if Zampese had any business being an NFL coordinator.
Well, he’ll have a tough time screwing this up now that he has Green, Eifert and Ross on the same offense. Those three should produce a lot of points and help make Zampese’s deficiencies that he clearly had last season.
The Bengals were strongly interested in taking LSU’s Leonard Fournette with the No. 9 pick, but he went off the board to the Jaguars at No. 4. That effectively ended any hope of the Bengals taking a running back in Round 1, which is great news for Jeremy Hill.
Had a back been drafted that high, it would have effectively guaranteed the end of Hill’s tenure as the Bengals’ top back. The most he could have hoped for was to be a backup getting space carries behind Fournette.
And with Hill hitting free agency in 2018, not getting a big workload in 2017 would have hurt his market value. There’s still a chance the Bengals take a back in Rounds 2-3, but they won’t be nearly as inclined now to give that back a ton of touches over Hill in 2017.
Now, Hill has a chance to still have a big role this year and have some momentum hitting free agency in 2018.
While getting Ross was nice, it will be hard to forget about the players who were on the board still when Cincinnati went on the clock. Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, Derek Barnett and Jonathan Allen all would have been great boosts to a defense that needs more playmakers, but the Bengals opted to make the offense even deeper at a position that wasn’t necessarily a top need.
And the Bengals’ biggest need is left unfulfilled heading into Day 2 of the draft after defensive end wasn’t addressed. Allen or Barnett would have addressed that, but the Bengals felt Ross was better value here.
That may be true, but he won’t help the offense as much as those other guys may have helped the defense.
Brandon LaFell/Tyler Boyd/Cody Core
When Green and Eifert went down with injuries last season, guys like Cody Core, Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd enjoyed bigger roles down the stretch, and they all were going to enter 2017 poised to have big roles in the offense.
That won’t be as much the case now that Ross is in the mix. All of those aforementioned guys are going to see lesser roles in 2017, and Core probably won’t see the field much at all with this pick. Boyd may also lose a ton of snaps if Ross lines up in the slot, which would be a shame since he was a second-round pick just last year.