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ESPN NFL power rankings: Bengals alarmingly low after the draft

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The national media’s lack of faith in the Bengals continues with ESPN ranking Cincinnati among the worst teams in the league in their post-draft power rankings.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals didn’t start the offseason in the most inspiring of ways as the team brought back Marvin Lewis after his contract was set to expire after yet another disappointing season. The team did make some coaching moves this offseason by giving Bill Lazor the freedom to install his own offense instead of adapting Jay Gruden’s. The Bengals also brought in defensive coordinator Teryl Austin from the Lions after Paul Guenther left, and replaced offensive line coach Paul Alexander with Frank Pollack who held the same job with the Cowboys.

The Bengals also brought in linebacker Preston Brown via free agency as well as trading with the Bills for Cordy Glenn to sure up the left tackle position. The team went on to draft an upgrade at center with Billy Price as well as a few other players who could contribute during their rookie season.

All of this, and ESPN still thinks the Bengals are one of the worst teams going into next season. And further more, ESPN thinks the Bengals are in a worse spot after the draft than they were after free agency. In ESPN’s post-draft power ranking, the Bengals come in at #29.

29. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 record: 7-9

Post-free-agency ranking: 22

Each of the past three first-round picks by the Bengals played fewer than 100 snaps in his rookie season, and only one of the drafted players logged at least 50 percent of the team’s offensive or defensive snaps his rookie season. This year could be different, though, as first-round pick Billy Price is likely to be the starting center.

To put this in perspective, the only teams ranked lower than the Bengals are the Dolphins, Browns and Colts. I’m not sure in what world those are the only teams worse than the Bengals.

I get that re-signing Lewis wasn’t a popular decision (it isn’t what I would’ve done either), but the Bengals are showing enough of a culture change without getting rid of him that I can get behind it — for now.

I’m not even sure why they are ranked so low because they don’t really talk about anything other than how the Bengals haven’t been able to play their first round pick for three years, which by the way, was mostly due to those players being injured. It is hard to imagine the Bengals finishing the season this low unless there’s a serious injury to Andy Dalton or A.J. Green.

This also doesn’t take into account the players the Bengals should likely get contributions from who didn’t play much last season like John Ross and Tyler Eifert. Also Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard should be more productive without giving wasted touches to Jeremy Hill. They will also be running behind a much-improved offensive line.

We should also see a slight jump in Dalton’s production. He not only gets some much-needed playmakers back on offense, but he shouldn’t be as gun shy with his blind side being more secure than last season. I’m not saying we should expect MVP numbers, but he should make some more plays.

The idea that ESPN has more faith in teams like the Giants, Jets, Bills, Raiders and Cardinals to name a few, is just baffling. Oh and ESPN boosted the Steelers in their rankings, despite most analysts believing the Steelers’ draft was far from impressive. Yup, Pittsburgh is ranked three in this ranking.

Cool, ESPN, cool.