The late rounds in the draft are where the winners and the losers start to separate.
The Cincinnati Bengals have had some great players in the later rounds of the draft, like Carl Lawson, Darius Phillips, and Brandon Wilson.
The Bengals have also landed some duds.
The Bengals spent the first three rounds of the draft fixing their glaring needs. The Bengals took Ja’Marr Chase, Jackson Carman, and Joseph Ossai filled the biggest holes the Bengals had.
On Day 3, the Bengals filled some much-needed gaps that were more low-key. Defensive line depth was lacking, and the kicker spot also got an overdue upgrade.
The entire organization
The major contributor to the Bengals’ failures over the last few years has been depth. The Bengals have been talented at the top of the depth chart, for the most part, but not so talented towards the bottom.
During the draft, the Bengals got their biggest needs out of the way early. By the third round, they were acquiring depth that they needed so badly.
Sample and Shelvin are helpful defensive line pieces, while Smith helps Carman shore up the offensive line. McPherson, while not a flashy pick, gives the Bengals that extra special teams juice that could be key to winning close games.
The McPherson pick is arguably the only pick that the Bengals had to reach for. Then again, he is the most consistent kicker in the draft, so a fifth-round selection may no be that high a price.
The trades the Bengals have made have helped add key pieces, and each new player drafted fits nicely into a specific role that the Bengals needed.
Overall, this is probably the best draft the Bengals have had in a few years.
D.J. Reader’s old college coach got some weapons in the fourth round of the draft. Marion Hobby, the Bengals’ offensive line coach, should be very happy with this draft haul.
With the Bengals first pick in the fourth round, they picked up Cameron Sample on the end. Then, they picked up Tyler Shelvin from LSU. The Bengals wrapped up the draft with a defensive end out of Kansas State, Wyatt Hubert. The Bengals picked three defensive linemen on Day 3, making it four total.
These picks are both depth picks, but the Bengals needed depth on the defensive line desperately.
Not only will Joseph Ossai be a major contributor for the Bengals, but Sample and Shelvin could grow into bigger roles. Sample can compete for the fourth defensive end spot, and possibly even be a primary player on certain 3-4 packages.
Shelvin, on the other hand, will help spell Reader every once in a while, as well as join the defense for some run-stopping packages.
The offensive line
In addition to Carman, the Bengals added D’Ante Smith in the fourth round.
Smith has the size to play tackle, and will probably start his career as the Bengals’ swing tackle. Once Reiff leaves, Smith might have the chance to compete for the right tackle spot.
In addition to helping add depth on the exterior, Smith playing tackle probably means that other backup tackles get funneled over to guard. This gives extra competition of the backup spots behind Carman and Quinton Spain, assuming they start.
The Bengals (rightfully) went out of their way to make life much easier for Joe Burrow following his near-catastrophic knee injury suffered last year. They managed to accomplish this all three days, highlighted by today’s acquisition of ECU offensive lineman D’Ante Smith, Georgia center Trey Hill, and Michigan running back Chris Evans.
So to recap what the Bengals have gotten for Burrow in this draft:
- A potential prime A.J. Green-level wide receiver and former national championship teammate.
- Three quality offensive lineman who could be starting within two years and already look like upgrades over a lot of dudes who’ve started for the Bengals over the last 3-5 years (Hot take: Trey Hill will be better than Russell Bodine).
- A solid pass-catching running back to help offset the loss of Giovani Bernard.
So yeah, you could argue Burrow was the biggest winner, and that’s exactly what the Bengals should have looked to accomplish.
By all accounts, this was one of the best draft classes any team had in terms of value. Seemingly every player they drafted had at least one NFL Draft ranking that suggested he was good value, which is something even the best Bengals draft classes could not do.
There was no Drew Sample-level reach. There was no throwaway pick that had nothing more than special teams potential. For the most part, we got to sit back and watch the Bengals make good pick after good pick, which is always nice to do over a three-day period in the offseason.
bengals 4th round haul— john sheeran (@John__Sheeran) May 1, 2021
consensus big board ranks:
shelvin was a projected high pick before he opted out. pic.twitter.com/J0GcOxInDf
Also, this was really awesome for Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals to do for our own Zim!
The Bengals really are doing their best to let Bengals fans know they matter more than what feels like two eternities.
This was one of the more enjoyable drafts overall we’ve seen in some time, and it’s only raising the level of hope we can have for this franchise in 2021 and beyond.
Renell Wren and Josh Tupou
Due mostly to injuries, Renell Wren hasn’t made much of an impact with the Bengals since being drafted in the fourth round in 2019. In two years with the Bengals, Wren has finished the season on IR twice. The Bengals just drafted another defensive lineman in the fourth that will compete with him for playing time.
Josh Tupou is coming in off of an opt-out season. While Shelvin was also an opt out in 2020, he will be looking to gain an edge against the former undrafted free agent.
Shelvin comes in as a huge obstacle, literally.
Fred Johnson, Hakeem Adeniji, and Isaiah Prince
The Bengals picked up tackle D’Ante Smith in the fourth round, and the other tackles are now on the chopping block.
Prince and Adeniji were all late-round picks, and Johnson was an undrafted free agent who has been pressed into duty because of injuries. Now, the Bengals are three deep at tackle, with Jonah Williams, Riley Reiff, and Smith.
This means that Johnson, Adeniji, and Prince will all have to fight it out for a roster spot. One of them may land on the practice squad, but one or two of them will be out of a job by the time season starts.
If any of them get to stay in Cincinnati, it will probably depend on their ability to play guard. Right now, there might be one guard spot open on the roster, behind Xavier Su’a-Filo, Quinton Spain, and Michael Jordan (with Billy Price starting the season at center in place of Trey Hopkins).
The Bengals brought in Austin Seibert to help relieve Randy Bullock last year. Seibert was the Browns regular kicker in 2019 but was cut one game into 2020. He attempted eight field goals for the Bengals in 2020 and made six.
Seibert was slotted to take on kicking duties by default, but since the Bengals have added McPherson, Seibert’s days are numbered. He will be an extra training camp body but will have a steep uphill battle against McPherson.