The 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books!
While they went flashy at No. 5 overall with Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals largely addressed the trenches. This is something that has sorely been needed, for a number of reasons, over the past few seasons.
The Cincy Jungle podcast crew came together at the conclusion of Draft weekend to break down the 10 picks the Bengals made over the weekend. Here are some of the areas we addressed.
While we all liked most picks the team made this weekend, one of the consensus favorite picks was third-round “tweener” defender, Joseph Ossai. While he lacks in overall body bulk, the length, speed and bend as qualities to get to the passer are intriguing.
Oddly enough, Round 6 provided two players in whom we gravitated. At No. 190, Trey Hill out of Georgia could come in and compete for a starting job on the interior of the offensive line within the next couple of years.
Bengals 6th-round center Trey Hill in 2019— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Pass block snaps: 433
QB pressures allowed: 2 pic.twitter.com/3pU2Z6Mv24
The Bengals also grabbed Chris Evans (not the one who frequents Hollywood) as a potential Giovani Bernard replacement. The team loved his ability to pass protect, along with the usual duties of rushing and receiving out of a back.
Questions on Evans surround his lack of touches at Michigan and a suspension stemming from an academic issue, but the athletic profile of a late day three pick is eye-opening.
Chris Evans is a RB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.81 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 29 out of 1460 RB from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 26, 2021
Splits projected, times unofficial.https://t.co/YqLHEn48wu #RAS pic.twitter.com/FQlk7NFL6y
Meanwhile, some feel that Jackson Carman may have been a bit of a reach, he was the Bengals’ second-round target all along. So, what did they do?
Work the draft.
They were able to move back, get the offensive lineman they supposedly coveted back at No. 46 (from No. 38) and get two extra fourth-round picks. They turned those into LSU defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin and East Carolina University offensive lineman, D’Ante Smith.
It just appeared that the Bengals showed a lot of awareness, in the form of knowing what their roster needed, and savviness in the form of navigating the draft, throughout the past three days.
What the picks mean
In short, the pressure is on, when it comes to the coaching staff. Cincinnati has shown immense patience with Zac Taylor’s rebuilding effort, but if the Bengals don’t start winning more games and/or “losing pretty” with these weapons, the seat could become extremely hot for the third-year head coach.
Taylor has assembled almost all of the current staff in place, but the pressure has to be the tightest on defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo. The Bengals have invested HEAVILY on his side of the ball in both free agency and the draft in the past couple of years.
With injuries and other issues piling up within his unit, the team has given him ample depth and high-end talent over the past couple of seasons. The excuses will run thin if the team’s defense continues to falter.
But, on a more positive note, the team addressed major roster concerns and weaknesses—particularly on Anarumo’s side of the ball. As John noted in our podcast, the Bengals have 15 defensive linemen on their roster at this moment.
The hope is that this will pay dividends, particularly in the AFC North.
Depending on who you asked on the show, the opinions varied here as well. There were quite a few explanations that began with the phrase “It depends upon...”, but from a big-picture standpoint, we all liked aspects of what the Bengals were trying to achieve over the weekend.
Ace and Zim were inclined to give the class of 10 picks a grade in the B-plus/A-minus range because of the combination of value, needs that were met and players netted. John and I were a little more hesitant, putting the class in the B range.
Personally speaking, the team took chances on some high-upside players, with a few having questions. Most players in this class, wherever they landed, were tough evaluations because of the Covid-19 crisis’ huge impact on the 2020 season.
However, with players like Jackson Carman and Chris Evans in particular, medical flags and odd suspensions also bring a tentative approach to the evaluation of those selections. It’s all part of the gambles in the NFL Draft, but the Bengals can afford very few misses in this class—particularly with Carman.
Still, the Bengals went into the weekend needing help rushing the passer and protecting their own, while also getting Joe Burrow another viable receiving weapon. One could argue that upwards of nine of the picks were used to meet those goals (four defensive linemen, three offensive lineman, one receiver and one running back).
And, the one pick whose job description doesn’t fall in line with the above-mentioned set? His job is to finish off stalled drive with three-pointers to aid the offense and defense.
Not a bad three days of work by Zac Taylor and Co. What do you think of the the Bengals’ draft class and what grade would you give it?
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