The Bengals finished the 2021 NFL Draft with 10 picks. They added two additional selections thanks to a trade made in the second round, but long before the draft began, they acquired a couple of late Day 3 picks as well. How did they get those picks though?
This all started during the 2020 season. The Bengals got off to a 1-2-1 start, and veteran leader Carlos Dunlap publicly expresses frustration after learning he was demoted in the days leading up to the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. This started a multi-week saga where Dunlap was trying to force his way out of Cincinnati, in which he was ultimately successful.
The Bengals sent Dunlap to the Seahawks for B.J. Finney and their seventh-round pick. Cincinnati released Finney following the 2020 season without him ever taking a snap for the team. This move saved the team some cap space that won’t be used in the equation for grading this whole move because the Bengals still have plenty of cap space they haven’t used.
Cincinnati did ultimately turn their original seventh-round pick into the 202nd overall pick when they sent Bengals legend, Ryan Finely, to the Texans as the team was set to release him anyway before Houston swooped in. Finley moved Cincinnati up from the 233rd selection, which is quite the move up from a player they were prepared to move on from anyway.
Cincinnati selected Kansas State defensive end Wyatt Hubert with the seventh-round pick the received from Seattle. They were also able to get Michigan running back Chris Evans with the 202nd pick.
Hubert, as a seventh round pick, likely will end up competing for the practice squad. He has an inherit advantage of making it as an edge player, which the Bengals need as many bodies competing on as possible. However, it hardly makes up for losing Dunlap.
Cincinnati’s hands were tied here, and that is taken into account as they were almost lucky to get anything for the disgruntled veteran. It also saved the team from taking on a cap hit from releasing him so quickly into his deal
Dunlap trade: D+
Finley will forever be remembered for how he led an upset against the Steelers on Monday Night Football in a lost season after Joe Burrow went down. The second thing he may be remembered for is allowing Cincinnati to move up and take Evans.
The Michigan running back worked his way back onto the team after being suspended in 2019, and he has plenty of athletic ability for a sixth round pick. He may show up fairly early as a third down running back with how well he catches the ball out of the backfield and blocks. He will have to make the roster via his special teams play, but if the opportunity knocks, Evans may answer fairly well.
Again, being able to move up that far in the draft for a player you’re already releasing is pretty outstanding on its own.
Finley Trade: B+
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