The NFL Combine has come and gone and free agency kicks off in less than one week. The offseason is about to heat up, but before it does, let’s review the players who helped and hurt their draft stock in the eyes of the Bengals heading into the NFL Draft.
Here are our three winners and one loser for the Bengals following the combine.
1) Washington DT Vita Vea
Vea dazzled in interviews and put up impressive numbers on the bench press and 40-yard dash before injuring his hamstring. The injury isn’t expected to be major and I’m not letting that move him out of the winners category. Vea could be the best player available when the Bengals make their first round pick and it would be interesting for the Bengals to draft back-to-back first round players out of Washington after selecting John Ross last year. Vea’s got Ross jokes and proved what a charismatic guy he is at the combine.
In Todd McShay’s mock draft 3.0, he has Vea to the Bengals and I assume that idea will continue to pick up steam between now and the draft. In three years at Washington, Vea accumulated 99 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles. He was a 2017 Second-Team All-America (USA Today, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and TheAthletic.com) and won the 2017 Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, among many other awards after starting all 13 games of the season.
I don’t think the Bengals signing Chris Baker should have much (if any) impact on the team’s interest in drafting Vea, though it could push another defensive tackle out in Cincinnati.
Arm length: 32 5/8”
Weight: 347 pounds
Hand span: 10”
40-yard dash: 5.10 seconds
Bench press: 41 reps
2) Texas OT Connor Williams
The big question with Williams coming into the combine was his health. Williams injured his left knee during the 2017 college season but exceeded expectations with his recovery and returned for the final two games of the season at Texas. He skipped out on the bowl game, but that was precautionary more than anything else.
What knee? pic.twitter.com/HxiqlqpF3X— Connor Williams (@cwill) January 31, 2018
NFL Combine 2018: Texas OT Connor Williams
Texas OT Connor Williams on the potential for him to switch positions in the NFL and more!Posted by Cincy Jungle on Wednesday, March 7, 2018
At the combine, Williams showed off his speed and strength and though he’s not going to be a top 10 draft pick, as expected prior to the 2017 college season, he’s likely going to be a first round pick in April. Pick No. 12 may be too early for Williams, but he came to the combine and did all he could do to prove he’s ready for the pros. It’s hard to imagine the Bengals trading down in Round 1, but if they do, Williams could be in play. Even if they don’t, the team might still reach for him at pick No. 12.
Arm length: 33”
Weight: 296 pounds
Hand span: 10 1/2”
40-yard dash: 5.05 seconds
Bench press: 26.0 reps
Vertical jump: 34”
Broad jump: 112”
3-cone drill: 7.83 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.63 seconds
3) UCF LB Shaquem Griffin
Griffin is on every list of combine winners, but I’m going to keep talking him up because he’s simply inspiring and worthy of the recognition.
The former UCF linebacker recorded 74 tackles (13.5 for loss), 7 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries (1 for a touchdown) and 2 forced fumbles in his senior season with the undefeated knights.
He wasn’t initially invited to the combine, but thankfully that changed so that he could prove himself to NFL teams. He only had one official combine interview, which was with the Seahawks, the team that employs his twin brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin. He’ll likely be getting a lot more attention as the draft nears; teams will look to bring him in for visits and attend UCF’s pro day on March 29.
Arm length: 32 1/8”
Weight: 227 pounds
Hand span: 9”
40-yard dash: 4.38 seconds
Bench press: 20 reps
Broad jump: 117”
1) Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown
Browns’ historically bad combine has been the talk of the draft community. The Bengals did meet with him in Indianapolis and Marvin Lewis has known the former Oklahoma offensive tackle since he was born, which was back when Lewis was coaching Brown’s dad, Orlando Brown Sr. on the Ravens.
The only drill in which Brown measured better than the first percentile in comparison to all offensive tackles in NFL Combine history, is the 3-cone drill, for which he recorded a 7.87 second time. That ranks in the 44th percentile, which is still not great, but it’s much better than being in the first percentile for the bench press, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle.
Brown was in the first round conversation before the combine, but that is seeming very unlikely at this point. Maybe the Bengals can select him in Round 3 after grabbing another offensive tackle earlier on. But, he can’t be in the conversation for pick No. 12 after the combine and also shouldn’t be relied on as the Bengals’ top option to compete against Cedric Ogbuehi for the starting left tackle job.
Arm length: 35”
Weight: 345 pounds
Hand span: 9 3/4”
40-yard dash: 5.85 second
Bench Press: 14 reps
Vertical jump: 19.5”
Broad jump: 82”
3 Cone Drill: 7.87s seconds
20 Yd Shuttle: 5.38 seconds
Want to hear about some overall NFL Combine winners and losers? I went on SB Nation Radio to discuss that and you can check it out below!