The 2018 NFL Draft is over and the Bengals are brining 11 new players to Cincinnati.
Fans are mostly happy, though there are some questions the remain, such as who is going to play right guard and right tackle. With that said, Bengals Nation should be satisfied in my eyes and the eyes on many NFL analysts.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Bengals the 12th highest grade of any NFL team for its draft haul with a mark of a B.
Cincinnati Bengals: B
Top needs: Center, tight end, linebackers
I could argue that I ranked another center higher than Billy Price where the Bengals took him at No. 21, but what I can’t argue is that they had to get a starting center in this draft. And my evaluations of Price and Iowa’s James Daniels were close, so this isn’t a reach. Cincinnati had one of the league’s worst offensive lines in 2017. It has already addressed left tackle with the addition of Cordy Glenn, and I thought the Bengals might try to add some more tackle competition for the right side. But Price is a good player who I thought would drop to Round 2 because of a torn pectoral muscle at the combine. Clearly Marvin Lewis & Co. think he can be a plug-and-play center, and they need it after Russell Bodine left this offseason. After the first round, the Bengals did a good job not reaching and taking the best players available. Jessie Bates III (pick 54) is a good player with upside. I have compared Sam Hubbard (77) to Rob Ninkovich as a Swiss Army knife-type player with versatility. He wasn’t as productive last season as I thought he might be. Malik Jefferson (78) is a true 4-3 outside linebacker who was inconsistent for the Longhorns. I heard from a few guys in the league before the 2017 season that he was a potential first-round pick, but I didn’t see that on tape. Running back Mark Walton (112) had a disappointing 4.60 40 time, and an ankle injury hurt him last season. I wrote about cornerback Darius Phillips (170) during the season, and thought he was a potential playmaker who could play in the slot. He had three pick-sixes in 2016. I compared quarterback Logan Woodside (249) to Case Keenum, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make this roster. Overall, this Cincinnati class lacks star power, but it’s solid.
Kiper say Billy Price was not a reach in Round 1, Jessie Bates was the best player available in Round 2 and he’s a fan of Sam Hubbard in Round 3, too “a Swiss Army knife-type player with versatility.”
A “B” is a solid grade to come out of the draft with. Don’t you think? We won’t really know how this group can be graded until they get on the field for at least a year or two though.