The final rounds of the NFL Draft came to a close on Saturday evening as the Bengals added seven new faces to the franchise on Day 3 of the draft. In total, the Bengals have 11 new draft picks who will be competing for varying spots on the roster in 2018.
With the final influx of new talent, some members of the Bengals are left in better or worse positions than they were at the start of the draft. Here’s our analysis on the biggest winners and losers from the Bengals following Day 3 of the draft.
Running backs coach Kyle Caskey
While the Mark Walton pick had some people scratching their heads, running backs coach Kyle Caskey has to love it.
Injuries ravaged the Bengals’ running back room last season in addition to the offensive line holding the players back; naturally, the production slipped. Additionally, there weren’t any running backs who contributed on special teams, which isn’t how the Bengals like to operate. The Bengals expect Walton to be able to make an impact on special teams right away and believe he can carry the rock if needed.
Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard will get most of the touches out of the backfield, but after them there is a huge drop off on the depth chart. The Bengals must not have liked what they had in Tra Carson or Jarveon Williams, who have spent most of their careers on the practice squad.
The team also added Brian Hill from the Falcons’ practice squad last year. Walton is a guy the Bengals would feel comfortable playing on special teams or in the backfield.
The Bengals’ best defensive interior lineman, a former Day 3 pick himself, had another amazing year in 2017. Geno Atkins ripped opposing offensive lines to shreds, until some of them figured out how to double and triple team him to minimize the damage.
The Bengals added Andrew Brown to help Atkins on the inside. If Brown transforms into a starter, that would be wonderful for the team. At worst, he will put pressure on some of the younger pass rushers, such as Andrew Billings or Ryan Glasgow.
Either way, the position is now deeper and it should be getting better. This will help Atkins avoid double-teams so he can unleash the full force of his talent.
The quarterback room
Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel were the two quarterbacks behind Andy Dalton; they inspire about as much confidence as one would expect out of Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel. That’s not much, in case you’re not following.
The Bengals overcame this hurdle by drafting Andy Dalton Jr., a.k.a. Logan Woodside. The former Toledo Rocket seems to be a better long-term plan since he is so similar to Dalton. Barkley never seemed like anything more than an emergency, and while Driskel wowed during the preseason, Marvin Lewis would not want to hand him the reigns.
The Bengals drafted Billy Price with their first pick like everyone expect, filling an obvious need. But no one expected the Bengals to ignore the line following that pick until the seventh round. Instead, the Bengals went with three defenders on Day 2 and drafted on that side of the ball six times with their next seven picks. The only other offensive lineman selected by the Bengals was taken with their second to last pick, which came in the seventh round.
The Bengals brought in Frank Pollack to coach the offensive line this year and they expect him to be able to rebuild one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. They added help where they need it with Cordy Glenn at left tackle and Price at center, but the team is trusting Pollack to bring the rest along. That includes figuring out a plan at both right guard and right tackle where starters will need to earn their jobs this summer. You could consider Pollack a winner because obviously the Bengals trust him to figure it out, but you can also consider him a loser for not getting more talent to work with.
“Frank Pollack was trying to get down here again, but (wasn’t able to) this time (laughs),” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said after the team drafted Walton. Clearly Pollack would have liked to draft a lineman in Round 4, but he didn’t get his way.
Despite being the best cornerback on the roster in recent years in 2015 and 2016, Jones saw major chunks of playing time slip through his fingers in 2017, leading to his eventual departure. Despite being having his option declined, the Bengals do have a frustrating reputation of keeping veterans around for too long.
The Bengals have now added cornerbacks Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris in the fifth round. These rookies will join Dre Kirkpatrick, who became a very expensive investment in 2017, William Jackson, who was one of the best cornerbacks in the league in 2017, and Darqueze Dennard, who has the slot role nailed down. There’s just no more room for Jones on the cornerback squad anymore.
The only way he could return would have had to be as a special teams player, but it looks like the Bengals addressed that spot too. Fourth rounder Mark Walton can contribute on special teams, a la Rex Burkhead and Cedric Peerman. Additionally, Darius Phillips is already an accomplished return man, which is the role Jones would have filled.
Newest Bengal, defensive back Darius Phillips, had 14 touchdowns in college (5 INT, 5 KO returns, 2 receiving, 1 punt return, 1 fumble recovery), an NCAA record. FOURTEEN!— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) April 28, 2018
If there was any possibility of Adam Jones returning, that door has slammed shut.
A member of the team for the past two years (practice squad and IR), Carson will now be, at best, the fourth option on the depth chart. Walton will probably be used right away as a fourth round pick and as such, Carson will have to fight for tooth and nail to avoid being released.
He had a glimpse of the roster last year until training camp until an injured derailed his chances of bursting the bubble. It’s unfortunate, but he will have a slim chance of making the Bengals’ roster in 2018. Jarveon Williams also lost out on the Walton pick, but he was already facing long odds to make the roster.