The Cincinnati Bengals, by most accounts, just got much better in the 2017 NFL Draft. CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler believes the Bengals are the most improved team after the draft. But don’t tell that to Bleacher Report.
Bleacher Report released a new round of NFL power rankings following the completion of the draft, and ranked the Bengals 28/32. The Bears come in as the worst team in the league, with the Jets at 31, Rams at 30, 49er at 29 and then the Bengals at 28. Get this, the Browns actually rank 25th on this list, due to their "run in free agency" and selecting "three of the best athletes in the draft”.
Consider the Bengals drafted ninth this year, meaning they were, technically, the ninth worst team in 2016. But, Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, who wrote the power ranking, believes the Bengals got even worse as a result of free agency and the NFL draft. Here’s what Gagnon had to say:
The Bengals won just six games last season and then got worse by losing their two best offensive linemen, Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler, on the free-agent market. It marked the second consecutive offseason in which they suffered major net losses in free agency despite having money to spend.
And they didn't do much in the draft to convince us they're suddenly on the right track.
They reached for speedy wide receiver John Ross in the top 10, despite the fact Ross is arguably a one-dimensional player who comes with medical red flags. Then they followed that up by drafting a walking red flag in running back Joe Mixon, who has first-round talent but could do more harm than good and, like Ross, doesn't really fill a major need.
They did get great value for Mixon and third-round front seven defender Jordan Willis, but that doesn't make up for all of the losing they've been doing on and off the field. The offensive line still lacks experience, and the secondary lacks young talent.
The way things are looking, the Bengals will be lucky to win more than a handful of games next season in the increasingly tough AFC North.
The Bengals did lose two excellent players in Whitworth and Zeitler, but, the team seems to have a plan in how to rebound from those losses. I’d beg to differ that the Bengals “didn’t do much in the draft to convince us they’re suddenly on the right track.”
I think the Bengals brought in what looks to be a great draft class, full of difference makers, playmakers, speedy threats, and players who can be long-term solutions to the Bengals’ deficiencies. Bleacher Report also doesn’t believe running back was a major need for Cincinnati, despite Jeremy Hill’s significant struggles, Giovani Bernard recovering from his second ACL tear and Rex Burkhead leaving Cincinnati this offseason.
I’m going to write this power ranking off as being irrelevant, and recommend you do the same.