For the third year in a row, the Bengals traded down in the second round of the NFL Draft; ending up with tight end Drew Sample after dropping back 10 picks in exchange for a fourth and sixth-round pick. Had the round begin a little differently, we may have seen the Bengals trade in the opposite direction.
Plus, there’s another cliché at work here. Sometimes the best trades are the one you don’t make. Give Bengals president Mike Brown and director of player personnel Duke Tobin credit here. They tried trading up in the second round for one of those first-round offensive lineman that slid. But they were also adamant. They coveted one of those guys, but they were holding on to their fourth-rounder. And later their fifth. They came into the draft believing the fourth round was where they could make some hay. So Tobin expertly juggled both options and then changed focus, pulled the deal with Denver to move down in the second and got that extra fourth. And Sample.
This revelation leads us to quite a bit of assumptions, but let’s try and piece things together.
Four tackles went off the board before the 42nd overall pick, the spot the Bengals started at. Three of them were traded up for. Jawaan Taylor went to the Jaguars at the 35th overall after they trading up three spots with the Raiders. Greg Little then went two picks later to the Panthers after they traded up 10 spots for him. Cody Ford went right after Little after the Bills traded with the Raiders and ended up in the spot the Jaguars started at.
In a matter of four picks, three potential targets for the Bengals were gone. Considering all three trades did indeed transpire, the three clubs that ended up trading down could’ve all been in contact with the Bengals beforehand and decided to take a better deal. If the Bengals weren’t willing to part ways with their fourth-round pick, then that adds up. They did use that pick to trade up for Ryan Finley, the quarterback that they wanted the most.
The fourth tackle taken was Dalton Risner, who went to the Broncos right in front of the Bengals. If they were so inclined to move up for a tackle and allowed Risner to get swiped before their eyes, signs point to Risner not being the main target. Had Risner fell to them, he very well could’ve been the pick, but he was not their first option in this scenario.
Had the Bengals pulled off the trade, a sheer resemblance to 2015 could’ve been made. That draft had the Bengals double down at tackle with the first two picks before attacking the tight end, linebacker and defensive tackle position with three of the next four picks. Hopefully this class turns out better than that one, as no player drafted in the first four rounds from that year is on the roster anymore (we love you C.J. Uzomah).
In the end, Drew Sample, Renell Wren and Trayveon Williams are all Bengals. None of the tackles taken before pick No. 42 are. With luck, the Bengals’ decision to move backwards instead of forwards will prove to be the correct one.