The final results 2019 NFL Draft are hot off the press, and we now have a glimpse of what the Zac Taylor era is going to look like.
With a brand new head coach, brand new coordinators, mostly brand new position coaches, and even a mostly brand new front office (since Mike Brown is handing off a lot of responsibility to his daughter and son-in-law), there are a lot question mark around the organization.
For right now, we have some answers. We won’t get the full picture until we start playing football games, and even that image could change over the next few years. But based on the players taken and the way the Bengals handled the draft, we can start to form an idea of what the organization will look like in the coming years.
So what did we learn about the Bengals from the 2019 draft?
Andy Dalton is the starting QB, and that’s that
Despite the fact that Zac Taylor came out early and said they were sticking with Andy Dalton, there was speculation that the Bengals could take Dwayne Haskins.
It soon became clear that this was a smokescreen, as the Bengals ended up passing on Haskins, even though he was on the board at 11th overall.
What did the Bengals do instead?
Get protection for Dalton.
Jonah Williams will hopefully replace Bobby Hart at right tackle and that move alone should elevate the line another tier.
The Bengals also drafted Michael Jordan, a guard/center from Ohio State, who filled the hole at center that Billy Price left in Columbus last year. Whether he starts or not, he will at least provide some depth and help the Bengals cut the dead weight on the line.
The Bengals didn’t draft a quarterback until they traded up for Ryan Finley in the fourth round, which means that Dalton is the obvious QB1. Jeff Driskel drop down a spot, but Dalton’s job is safe.
Even though Finely was drafted in the fourth round, a round where you are not typically looking for starters, Brian Callahan felt the need to begin his presser by stating that Dalton is the starter.
As long he is healthy, Dalton will play every down.
John Ross is safe too
The Bengals didn’t draft a receiver this year, so all the receivers from last year have a good shot at returning.
The only addition to that group was Stanley Morgan, who surprisingly went undrafted.
John Ross has had an underwhelming career with the Bengals, though he did score eight touchdowns in 2018. But his 210 career receiving yards for a first round pick that ran the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history is not ideal to say the least.
But Taylor and his new crop of coaches want to keep developing him. If anything, they just gave him a vote of confidence by not drafting a receiver, or even signing one in free agency.
Morgan can still compete for a roster spot, but he wasn’t brought in to take Ross’ job.
The offense will work around Joe Mixon again
Callahan said in his press conference, “If you’re Joe Mixon, you should be really excited at this point.”
He is right about that, based on Mixon’s latest tweets.
Michael Jordan I Love it!!! Welcome big fella!— MoneyMakingMix (@Joe_MainMixon) April 27, 2019
Between the two linemen and blocking tight end Drew Sample, the Bengals are going to have a formidable front. Mixon might, for once in his career, have some holes to run through.
In his first two years with the Bengals, Mixon was having to make his own magic happen, constantly dodging defenders in the backfield. Can you imagine what Mixon can do if he can get to the line of scrimmage without being contacted first?
The NFL should be scared.
Taylor and Turner are working hard to fix the offensive line
The offensive line in 2019 might be the best it has been since 2016. The Bengals are now in year two of the rebuild after adding Cordy Glenn, Billy Price, and Bobby Hart a season ago. Then they added John Miller in free agency, along with Williams and Jordan in the draft.
First of all, their first round selection could already be the best OL in the building. Williams should have no problem whatsoever starting in 2019, whether it’s at left tackle, right tackle, or even one of the guard positions.
Secondly, Jordan may not start right away, but he should at least give the other backups players a run for their money. With the selection of Jordan, the Bengals will probably have to cut someone to prune the roster.
The Bengals are satisfied with their core defense
In a surprising turn, the Bengals were light on the defensive side of the ball during the draft. The only projected starter they drafted was linebacker Germaine Pratt who will fill Vontaze Burfict’s void.
Other than that, they drafted Renell Wren, who will compete with Andrew Billings but probably won’t start, and a defensive back in the seventh round. None of the returning starters in the secondary are in no serious danger of losing their jobs.
The Bengals drafted on defensive linemen, so that means the only question mark is going to be on the left end where Sam Hubbard and Kerry Wynn will be competing for the starting job.
Nick Vigil and Preston Brown will go back to their regular spots with Pratt inserted on the outside opposite Vigil. Then the back four will no doubt remain the same, with Darqueze Dennard in the slot when the defense is in the nickel.
So at most, the Bengals will show two new faces in their defense that was ranked dead last in most statistical categories last year.
Lou Anarumo has his work cut out for him. Hopefully, he knows what he is doing.
Zac Taylor is already changing the culture
One of the things we complained about Marvin Lewis was his predictability and his lack of aggression. He started to change things in 2018, but it was too little too late.
The Bengals have traded up in the draft four times in their history prior to 2019. Then they traded up twice in one round.
This is important because, not only did the Bengals pick players of better value, but it shows that they want to attack the draft. They saw two players they wanted that may not have been available, so they went after what they wanted.
Hopefully, this is a sign that Taylor is changing things in Cincinnati. Of course, Taylor doesn’t have the final say on things like trades, so he has to get Duke Tobin, Troy Blackburn, or Katie Blackburn on board. We’re not quite sure whose idea it was, but either way, it’s a good sign.
One of the reasons that Lewis kept his job for such a long time is that he got the front office on board with what he was doing. We might be seeing that Taylor is doing the same thing. For a Bengals head coach, that is a very, very good sign.