Since his official hiring announced a few weeks ago, Zac Taylor has been scrambling to put the rest of his coaching staff together.
The Cincinnati Bengals spent most of January dismantling the remnants of the Marvin Lewis era, believing that Taylor had things all lined up when he arrived.
But, with the team needing to wait until the Rams were done in the postseason, Taylor and the Bengals were behind most other teams in transition this offseason, in terms of getting off to a late start with assembling the staff. Cincinnati’s new coach went through his list of a number of defensive coordinator options, and the search left a little bit of egg on the face of the organization.
Nevertheless, Taylor found his man in former Giants secondary coach, Lou Anarumo. The hire brings both a bit of excitement and skepticism to the fan base.
On the positive side, New York was tied for the seventh-highest amount of interceptions last year with 16. In heading a unit employing at least two former first round picks at cornerback and two productive safeties, Anarumo should be able to build upon the talent in the secondary. There has also been some conjectures about Landon Collins being lured to Cincinnati by Anarumo via free agency in a safety/linebacker hybrid role.
Alternatively, the Giants’ passing defense was 23rd in the NFL, in terms of yards per game. While that ranking depends on other factors aside from the secondary, coupling that with his inexperience as a coordinator gives pause.
In attempting to find members of the staff working under Anarumo, Cincinnati swung and missed for another assistant in Eric Henderson. The former Bengals player and current defensive line coach, opted to stay in Los Angeles and jumped from the Chargers to Taylor’s former employer.
In short, the Bengals’ staff is incomplete as representatives of all NFL teams head to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. While it isn’t the end of the world, it does particularly handicap Cincinnati because of their penchant for leaning more heavily on their coaching staff in the scouting process.
We’ll see if this ends up being a big deal when April comes around, or if Taylor and Co. can work around these hurdles and still get immediate impact rookies for a roster that is starved for them.
Bengals receive three sixth-round compensatory picks:
When folks get angry with the Cincinnati Bengals because of their inactivity in free agency (particularly in the form of outside signings), their response is almost always framed in the context of a beloved compensatory pick formula. And, when they do make the occasional outside signing, it’s usually for veterans who have been released, so to not tweak with said formula.
The team received three additional day three picks last week, giving them 11 for the big weekend two months from now. In case you missed it, here is the updated look at their picks:
- Round 1, Overall 11
- Round 2, Overall 42
- Round 3, Overall 72
- Round 4, Overall 110
- Round 5, Overall 149
- Round 6, Overall 183
- Round 6, Overall 198 (via Cowboys)
- Round 6, Overall 210 (Compensatory Selection)
- Round 6, Overall 211 (Compensatory Selection)
- Round 6, Overall 213 (Compensatory Selection)
- Round 7, Overall 223
Now, the optimist would look at the new rule allowing teams to trade their compensatory picks and envision the Bengals packaging some of their picks to move up for rookies they truly covet. A lot of teams roll the dice this way, and it disallows other teams to leapfrog them for guys they want to add.
The cynics would look at the four meager times the Bengals have moved up in the draft over their past 51 classes and perpetuate the belief that the team will either stay put or move back to horde more picks. While they have a lot of roster holes because of the transition Taylor is instituting, the “quality versus quantity” debate has to be at the forefront.
There is also the notion of just how valuable hoarding day three picks can be. Of course, not every team can have Pro Bowl players at every position, and rounds 4-7 are the depth-building areas, but the Bengals need splash moves that net impactful players.
Here is a look at the team’s sixth-round picks in the Marvin Lewis era (since 2003):
- DL Langston Moore
- DB Greg Brooks
- WR/KR Tab Perry
- WR/QB Reggie McNeal
- DL Matt Toeaina
- DB Corey Lynch
- TE Matt Sherry
- DB Morgan Trent
- RB Bernard Scott
- WR Dezmon Briscoe
- WR Ryan Whalen
- RB Daniel Boom Herron
- RB Rex Burkhead
- WR Cobi Hamilton
- LB Marquis Flowers
- DB Derron Smith
- WR Cody Core
- LB Jordan Evans
- DB Brandon Wilson (one of the rare players Cincinnati traded up to select)
While there are a couple of players who have had nice careers, the list doesn’t readily point to major benefits of the stockpiling of these kinds of picks on a regular basis. The Bengals have essentially had 1.2 sixth-round picks per year under Lewis and the impacts have been minimal.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Taylor approaches the draft and the picks the team has, as opposed to how Lewis and Co. operated. The other major figureheads are still part of the war room, but Taylor seems to have grabbed the ears of Mike Brown, the Blackburns and Duke Tobin in a way that Lewis once did.
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