The Cincinnati Bengals went with intriguing traits, foresight and versatility in this year’s draft class. While it didn’t have the sizzle of early left tackles, quarterbacks and/or wide receivers, depth and future roster stability were gained this weekend.
While a lot of people benefitted from the roster gains, it leaves questions for others. Let’s have a look:
It was Coach Lou’s weekend, with five of six picks going to his side of the ball. His thumbprint is all over the defensive side of the ball, as he’s built an athletic, versatile unit.
He may end up being on the wrong side of things in a couple of years when it’s proper time to evaluate this class and we see what happens with Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III, but he added a lot of speed and athleticism to his unit this weekend.
Charles Burks and Robert Livingston:
The team’s defensive backs coaches have to be extremely stoked as to how the weekend went for them. Not only did they get three players for the back end of the defense, but the Bengals moved up twice (a major rarity, to put it mildly) to get two of these players.
Daxton Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt and Tycen Anderson all bring speed, coachability and athleticism to the secondary. It was a banner weekend for the coaching duo.
The Bengals waited until the third round to address Hobby’s group, but 33% of the team’s total picks were for his molding. Carter is intriguing as a movable piece on the line with a very athletic build (6’4”, 282), while Jeffrey Gunter provided immense value with the team’s last pick (more on that later).
As we mentioned before, add in the fact that Hobby gets back both Joseph Ossai and Wyatt Hubert back from injury this year and this becomes a very exciting position group.
Darrin Simmons...sort of:
Simmons didn’t get the team to draft him any “battery members” (kicker, long snapper, punter—not that they theoretically needed a couple of those), but some of these picks should contribute on kick and punt return coverage immediately.
While it’s not ideal, in theory, as it goes with high picks, but one must keep the Bengals’ roster status in perspective. 2022 wasn’t about finding a bunch of immediate starters at a bunch of different spots, as was the case during the 2019-2021 classes. It’s about building upon a solid roster for the future.
Oh, and the Bengals did get a long snapper in Cal Adomitis from Pittsburgh.
The locker room:
Another draft and another class filled with high character players, big work ethic, track records of success and/or were team captains. Taylor-Britt and Anderson donned the “C” at Nebraska, while Volson was part of FBS powerhouse North Dakota State.
After losing a lot of the locker room glue with C.J. Uzomah, the Bengals promptly attempted to replicate some of the good vibes their former tight end built with high character guys in this year’s class.
It’s an enviable position to be in when a team’s first three receivers are arguably the best in the NFL at the present, but additional resources to the receiver position—especially with return potential could have helped. Cincinnati didn’t select a wide receiver with one of their picks, which was slightly puzzling.
Yes, the team retained Stanley Morgan, Jr. and Mike Thomas, but also lost Auden Tate. The lack of a receiver pick may also speak to their liking of “The Trent’s”—Taylor and Irwin—and Pooka Williams, Jr. (listed as a receiver on the team’s site).
Similar to the situation with Walters, Casey’s group didn’t get an addition until the undrafted free agency period hit (Kentucky’s Justin Rigg). Casey was reportedly intimately involved in Trey McBride’s workout and the team also showed pre-draft interest in Isaiah Likely.
It’s odd that they implied heavy foresight and employed contingency plans three times in the secondary, but not once with the tight end position. The team lost Uzomah in free agency and have expiring contracts after 2022 with Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample.
As mentioned in our Day Three winners and losers, Bates, Bell and Brandon Wilson all have expiring contracts after this season. We know the history and lack of movement on a long-term deal with Bates, so the selection of three defensive backs with two likely having safety roles will be affecting things in this group going forward.
The selections of Daxton Hill and Tycen Anderson signal a couple of things. Number one, it’s a possible sign that the Bates and Bengals camp are far apart on any kind of long-term solution. And, secondly, it gives Cincinnati more leverage and power in the talks for all three players going forward.
Apple had a solid 2021 season and was a nice surprise for the Bengals. Personally speaking, he’s top of the list for our “Unsung Hero of the Year” award, for stepping up with Trae Waynes and playing some of the best football of his professional career.
Yet, when the Bengals didn’t land Stephon Gilmore (however realistic or not that was), we knew cornerback was going to be high on the draft priority list. Hill will be a Swiss Army Knife piece, likely taking over the Ricardo Allen role initially, but Taylor has already noted that Taylor-Britt will be vying for an outside corner spot.
After exciting classes and offensive picks in the first two rounds in all three previous Zac Taylor draft, Callahan’s unit took a backseat on Saturday. It didn’t help that the Bengals ended the weekend with less picks than what they started with, but only one of six selections went on his side of the ball.
Between the board falling a certain way, upcoming expiring contracts on the defense and the Bengals going offense early in Taylor’s previous classes, Callahan’s group took a back seat this weekend.
Jackson Carman and Hakeem Adeniji:
When the Bengals selected Cordell Volson, a lot of people pegged him to be the team’s backup swing tackle. But, in reality guard is where Volson appears to be headed.
“The toughness he plays with, the power he plays with,” Frank Pollack said via Bengals.com. “I think he’ll have no problem going inside,” said Pollack after the Bengals took their first offensive player of the weekend. “(He’s) the best offensive lineman available. There are a lot of guys that play tackle that I don’t think can play inside.”
With a previous statement made by offensive coaches that envisioned Adeniji focusing inside and Carman getting a shot at the vacant left guard opening, it would appear that those two may have their work cut out for them. With Adeniji being a Jim Turner holdover and a very troubling report surfacing on Carman earlier this week, the rookie could vie for a starting interior role right away.
Wyatt Hubert and Khalid Kareem:
Defensive line coach Marion Hobby told me at the Super Bowl media week that he loves the guys they drafted last year, in Hubert and Joseph Ossai. Their returns to the lineup act as extra draft picks, but Hubert and Kareem, a 2019 selection, have some competition in this year’s class.
Kareem has been valued as a versatile player on the line, but his inability to regularly crack the lineup is something to monitor with the selection of Zachary Carter. The team’s 2022 third-round pick is an interior lineman by trade, but also lined up at EDGE, with his playing weight in the 280s last year.
Hubert has upside as a rusher, but so does his seventh-round counterpart in Gunter.
32% true pass rush win rate 8th best in a STRONG edge class.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) April 30, 2022