ESPN's Mel Kiper annually grades team drafts after the conclusion of the NFL draft, giving readers a generic impression on his perspective. How does he grade drafts? How much talent did a team add, based on board position? How effectively did they address key personnel voids (aka, needs)? And how efficient were they in maneuvering the draft board?
Kiper gave the Bengals a "B+" -- which ranked as the league's seventh-best draft (note: he viewed the Steelers and Ravens drafts as better).
The Bengals had a really interesting draft. They have emerging needs at tackle (on both sides) and went with tackles in each of their first two picks. Cedric Ogbuehi is a top-15 pick if healthy, but he'll be coming off an ACL tear, and you can't expect much, if anything, from him in 2015. Where you could expect something is from second-rounder Jake Fisher, who was a pretty good value at No. 53. In fact, if Ogbuehi felt like a bit of a reach given his injury situation, Fisher balances it out.
They added a trio of tight ends, and you get the impression that'll practically be a highly-competitive camp situation, with the hope that someone breaks through. A couple picks that could become a lot more useful than the slot indicates: one is Paul Dawson, a player his own coaches describe as a "knucklehead" -- not in a criminal way but in a "get focused" kind of way -- but who is also a really instinctive player who I think could rise quickly on the depth chart; the second one is Josh Shaw, who fell on character concerns following his bizarre suspension from USC last year but has the kind of talent you'd expect of a top-60 pick. Marvin Lewis likes to take chances on these kinds of kids, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he hits a couple home runs. The big void? I don't think a bad pass rush got any better, and I would have liked more upside out of a pass-catcher.