The Cincinnati Bengals have experienced significant roster turnover in free agency during the past two offseasons. As such, it was critical they executed a strong draft class in order to get back to their winning ways in 2017. The Bengals did just that. They accrued four first-round talents with their first four picks and added some intriguing prospects after that.
However, there is a certain amount of risk tied to a few of their top picks. John Ross and Carl Lawson both have lengthy injury histories, and everyone knows the situation with Joe Mixon. You know what they say, scared money doesn’t make money.
Two guys who aren’t considered to be risky picks are Jordan Willis and Ryan Glasgow. A week prior to the draft, Pro Football Focus had both players on their list of high-floor, low-ceiling prospects.
Here’s what Pro Football Focus had to say about Willis:
Jordan Willis, Edge, Kansas State
A common narrative about Willis is that he lacks perceived bend around the edge to beat tackles on the outside in the NFL consistently. However, his college career shows he can produce as a pass-rusher in more ways than just a speed rush. Willis can win with a bull rush or a variety of pass-rush moves. In 2016, Willis had 15 sacks, eight QB hits, and 57 hurries on 524 pass-rushing snaps. Willis’s combination of pass-rush production plus the necessary athleticism to perform on the edge of an NFL defense give him a high floor.
Jordan Plocher, who wrote the article, was spot on when he said that Willis has a high-floor. His relentless motor and work ethic suggest that he’ll do whatever it takes to be a successful player in the NFL. Although Plocher didn’t specifically say that Willis has a low-ceiling, the title of the article insinuates that’s the case. That’s a notion I don’t agree with at all. Willis was a combine monster, boasting a 4.53 40-yard dash, 39 inch vertical jump, 125 inch broad jump, 6.85 3 cone drill, and a 4.28 20-yard shuttle. Willis did all of this at 255 pounds.
To put those combine numbers into perspective, let’s take a look at Josh Malone’s combine numbers, who many considered to be one of the more athletic receivers in the draft. Malone posted a 4.40 40-yard dash, 30.5 inch vertical jump (8.5 inches shorter), 121 inch broad jump (4 inches shorter), 7.05 3 cone drill (.20 seconds longer), and a 4.19 20-yard shuttle (only .7 seconds less). I didn't illustrate these combine comparisons with the intention of knocking Malone, but rather to show just how athletic Willis is for a defensive end. Combine those measurables with the production Willis had in college and his reputation of being a hard worker, and I'd say his ceiling is as high as anyone's in this draft.
Here’s what Pro Football Focus had to say about Ryan Glasgow:
Ryan Glasgow, NT, Michigan
Nose tackles appear to be a vanishing breed in the NFL which lowers the expected ceiling for a player like Glasgow. In 2016, Glasgow had 17 run stops so his new team will be getting immediate running down value. The common thought about drafting nose tackles is that they have reduced value if they have to leave the field on third downs due to a lack of pass-rush production. Yet, Glasgow offers a different skill-set as his pass-rush productivity rating on third downs was 15.9, which is good enough to rank No. 3 among interior defensive linemen in the class. That type of interior pass-rush production combined with his run-defense ability make Glasgow a high-floor pick.
The high-floor, low-ceiling description attached to Glasgow is probably more accurate. Glasgow will likely never be an elite defensive tackle like Geno Atkins, (though, if you’re reading this Ryan, please prove me wrong!) but he has the makeup of a blue-collar, show up and do your job every day type of guy. Glasgow has drawn comparisons to Domata Peko, who had the same kind of reputation during his time in Cincinnati. Peko fell off a bit at the end of his time with the Bengals, but if Glasgow has a similar career, on- and off-the-field, than he was well worth the fourth round pick the Bengals spent on him.
In a draft class full of high-risk, high-reward players selected by the Bengals, Willis and Glasgow seem to be safe bets to have successful careers in the NFL. Even though they may be the safe bets, they likely won’t be the only two to flourish out of this impressive class from Cincinnati.