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NFL executives’ criticism of the Bengals’ draft is off-base

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A certain NFL insider said the Bengals committed “an error from a philosophical standpoint.” Was it really a philosophical error, an error in scouting, or something else entirely?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, I wrote an article about various NFL execs’ and insiders’ responses to the Bengals’ draft. In summation, the consensus was that the Bengals could have, and should have, done more to move in front of Detroit in the draft and nab Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Instead of going for the “consensus No. 1 center,” as an insider put it, the Bengals settled for Billy Price. According to the insider, the Bengals’ failure to trade up ahead of the Lions was “an error from a philosophical standpoint”

That phrase caught my eye as I was going over the article, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. There are a lot of philosophical standpoints the Bengals maintain that I disagree with, so I figured I could just add this one to the list.

The article drew some reactions I did not foresee after this tweet was sent with the article.

Here’s what caught my attention: the insiders from the original article assumed that the Bengals wanted Ragnow more than Price. This is where I think they are wrong.

There’s good reason to believe the Bengals wanted Billy Price more than Frank Ragnow, despite Dave Lapham predicting Ragnow would be the pick.

The way that Marvin Lewis, Bill Lazor and Frank Pollack have raved about him leads me to believe Price was the preferred center in the Bengals’ war room. Plus, there were strong thoughts from Bengals beat writers — including those at the Cincinnati Enquirer and ESPN -- that indicated Price would be the pick. It seems that if both Ragnow and Price were still on the board, the Bengals still would have taken Price. At the very least, they would have had long and thoughtful discussions about which center to take. In Cincinnati, Ragnow was not the clear favorite that everyone else thought.

Yes, there were rumors of the Bengals taking a liking to Ragnow. But if there is one thing Lewis is good at, it is spinning the rumor wheel. (Remember that time when we thought he was retiring? Those were the days.) I’m not saying that Lewis was spreading fake news to get the Lions to draft Ragnow instead of Price, but I will say that it is entirely possible.

So the error the Bengals committed was not a philosophical one. If the Bengals had intended on drafting Ragnow, then maybe that would the case. But, let’s just say, maybe the Bengals wanted Price the whole time. One could argue that an error was made, but that argument would be a scouting error rather than a philosophical one.

Who’s to say if the Bengals did want Ragnow that they would not have messed that up? In the end though, the Bengals did what they set out to do and did not err in their own philosophical standpoint. If their intention really was to get Price, then they did an excellent job in the draft. And, draft grades mean nothing. We need to wait and see how all of the centers this year shake out in the NFL. It’s fully possible Price is far and away the best of the group. It’s also possible Ragnow turns out to rise the top.

But with that said, the argument is not what the Bengals should have done to get Ragnow, it’s whether or not they truly wanted Ragnow in the first place.