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Winners and losers from Bengals’ selections in Rounds 2 and 3

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Cincinnati made a move and went with a player on each side of the ball on Friday night. Both players should contribute to the Bengals in 2019 in varying degrees.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

You have to give the Cincinnati Bengals credit—they are keeping things interesting in the 2019 NFL Draft. After grabbing arguably the best tackle in the first round, Cincinnati made a trademark move back in the second round and collected more picks.

There are some polarizing opinions on the two picks the team made on Friday night, but Cincinnati brought in players who could see significant 2019 snaps on both sides of the ball.

What do the picks of Drew Sample and Germaine Pratt mean for the Bengals, their players and coaches?

Winners

Andy Dalton: The Bengals’ incumbent starter won on two different levels on Friday. First, Cincinnati could have had a shot at a quarterback like Drew Lock, but passed, seemingly cementing any doubt that No. 14 is their guy in 2019.

Second, and more importantly, the team loaded up on more blockers to keep Dalton comfortable in a critical year in his career. After going with offensive tackle Jonah Williams in the first round, Zac Taylor grabbed tight end Drew Sample in the second. Sample is a guy who could help back up both C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Eifert at tight end, while also potentially helping out as an H-Back option.

Brian Callahan: Despite Sample being labeled as a bit of a reach, the first-time offensive coordinator has to be pleased that the team went with two players for his unit in their first two picks. Cincinnati is adopting a version of the Rams’ play-action offense, so Williams and Sample both seem to fit that system.

Opinions vary on the level of need at tight end, but as mentioned above, Sample could be moved around a bit. The pressure is on Callahan to build off of Taylor’s innovative ideas, but the Bengals have set him up nicely early in the draft.

Joe Mixon: The Bengals seem to be committing to the run. Los Angeles loved using Todd Gurley in a number of ways, and it seems as if Taylor believes Mixon can do quite a bit of the same as the Rams’ workhorse.

Mixon is coming off of a 1,000-yard rushing season and should continue to build on it, given the Bengals’ commitment to rebuilding/restocking the offensive line this year. Both Williams and Sample should open more holes for the third-year back.

Preston Brown: Oddly enough, one could put Brown in the “losers” as Germaine Pratt is technically an inside linebacker, but first blushes have the Bengals using their new rookie on the outside. Lou Anarumo will likely mix things up schematically, but both Brown and Pratt should play often.

Brown signed a big three-year, $21 million deal this offseason, but won’t play more than two downs in a given series. While Pratt has some limitations as well, both guys should play off of each other well in the new system.

Tem Lukabu: The new linebackers coach seems to really like Pratt. After the team drafted him, Lukabu said that Pratt is “mature beyond his years”. We’ll see if that translates to on-field production, but for the time-being, the defensive staff thinks they have a guy who can contribute for a long time.

Mike Brown: Let’s reach for one here. The Bengals’ owner has a dubious reputation for allowing troubled players multiple chances on his roster. After Taylor was hired, the rookie head coach preached “character” in his opening pressers.

The first three picks of this class all exude high-character traits in various forms, so Brown and Taylor are sticking to their word when it comes to the rookies.

Losers

The fans: Who Dey Nation is a tough crowd to please. So, when some of the common names aren’t called and/or a supposed reach is made, they swarm like hungry sharks.

Cincinnati faithful were particularly displeased with Sample, and for some solid reasons, but the Bengals are asking us to have faith in their process and this new staff. It’s a big ask, given the lack of success from this franchise.

Jordan Evans, Vinny Rey and Hardy Nickerson, Jr.: Common sense tells us that Rey, a Marvin Lewis staple, won’t be back with the team now that Pratt is in the fold. The embattled Nickerson, who was pressed into extensive 2018 action because of injuries, seems to also be on the outside looking in, as Brown mans the middle and Pratt being movable in the scheme.

Evans may still have a spot on the roster, but he has an uphill battle. This is especially the case if the Bengals use another one of their 10 Day 3 picks at linebacker.

Cethan Carter: Last year’s undrafted free agent wasn’t likely to make the roster this year, but if he showed something as a versatile H-Back, he may have found a niche in Taylor’s new offense. However, with Sample coming in the fold, he will be undoubtedly be used in multiple spots—both to utilize him to the second-round pick’s strengths and to maximize roster spots. Carter is probably on the outside looking in from that standpoint.