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NFL Draft grades: Mel Kiper likes Bengals’ top 12 draft class

The ESPN draft analyst is a fan of the Bengals’ “solid” 2018 draft class.

By Rebecca Toback@Rebecca_Toback  Apr 29, 2018, 10:15am EDT
 

884531454.jpg.0.jpgPhoto by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL Draft is over and the Bengals are brining 11 new players to Cincinnati.

Fans are mostly happy, though there are some questions the remain, such as who is going to play right guard and right tackle. With that said, Bengals Nation should be satisfied in my eyes and the eyes on many NFL analysts.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Bengals the 12th highest grade of any NFL team for its draft haul with a mark of a B.

Cincinnati Bengals: B

Top needs: Center, tight end, linebackers

I could argue that I ranked another center higher than Billy Price where the Bengals took him at No. 21, but what I can’t argue is that they had to get a starting center in this draft. And my evaluations of Price and Iowa’s James Daniels were close, so this isn’t a reach. Cincinnati had one of the league’s worst offensive lines in 2017. It has already addressed left tackle with the addition of Cordy Glenn, and I thought the Bengals might try to add some more tackle competition for the right side. But Price is a good player who I thought would drop to Round 2 because of a torn pectoral muscle at the combine. Clearly Marvin Lewis & Co. think he can be a plug-and-play center, and they need it after Russell Bodine left this offseason. After the first round, the Bengals did a good job not reaching and taking the best players available. Jessie Bates III (pick 54) is a good player with upside. I have comparedSam Hubbard (77) to Rob Ninkovich as a Swiss Army knife-type player with versatility. He wasn’t as productive last season as I thought he might be. Malik Jefferson (78) is a true 4-3 outside linebacker who was inconsistent for the Longhorns. I heard from a few guys in the league before the 2017 season that he was a potential first-round pick, but I didn’t see that on tape. Running back Mark Walton (112) had a disappointing 4.60 40 time, and an ankle injury hurt him last season. I wrote about cornerback Darius Phillips (170) during the season, and thought he was a potential playmaker who could play in the slot. He had three pick-sixes in 2016. I compared quarterback Logan Woodside (249) to Case Keenum, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make this roster. Overall, this Cincinnati class lacks star power, but it’s solid.

Kiper say Billy Price was not a reach in Round 1, Jessie Bates was the best player available in Round 2 and he’s a fan of Sam Hubbard in Round 3, too “a Swiss Army knife-type player with versatility.”

A “B” is a solid grade to come out of the draft with. Don’t you think? We won’t really know how this group can be graded until they get on the field for at least a year or two though.

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NFL draft grades 2018: NFL.com analyst gives Bengals B+ after impressive Day 3

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The Bengals came away from the 2018 NFL Draft with an impressive haul of players.

By Rebecca Toback@Rebecca_Toback  Apr 29, 2018, 7:30am EDT
 

951991456.jpg.0.jpgPhoto by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals finished off the 2018 NFL Draft with 11 new toys for the coaches to work with.

From Billy Price in Round 1 to Logan Woodside in Round 7, there are a number of quality players from the 2018 Bengals draft class that could leave a lasting impact on the city of Cincinnati.

NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter has gone through to evaluate all 32 team’s drafts by day and overall and he had a very positive impression of the group of players the Bengals drafted.

Draft picks: Ohio State C/OG Billy Price (No. 21 overall), Wake Forest S Jessie Bates (No. 54 overall), Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard (No. 77 overall), Texas LB Malik Jefferson (No. 78 overall), Miami RB Mark Walton (No. 112 overall), Illinois State DB Davontae Harris (No. 151 overall), Virginia DT Andrew Brown (No. 158 overall), Western Michigan CB Darius Phillips (No. 170 overall), Toledo QB Logan Woodside (No. 249 overall), Mississippi OGRod Taylor (No. 252 overall), Florida State WR Auden Tate (No. 253 overall).

Day 1 grade: B

Day 2 grade: A

Day 3 grade: A

Overall grade: B+

The skinny: Picking up Cordy Glenn from the Bills for a move down of 10 spots in the first round will help their offensive line, so that needs to be considered here. Selecting Price, a center/guard, continues the Bengals’ effort to get stronger up front, though I think there could have been more of a difference-maker selected here. The Bengals could have waited and landed a very good interior offensive lineman in the second or third round. The Bengals picked up an extra third-round pick by moving down a few spots in Round 2. Their back-to-back third-rounders -- Hubbard and Jefferson -- beef up their front seven. The games of both guys weren’t loved by scouts, but in the third round, these picks make sense. Jefferson could be a particularly good value if everything comes together as he matures. Walton is a well-rounded offensive weapon, presenting good value in the fourth round. I’ve been a fan of Harris since the fall. I suspect he’ll be a very good reserve corner in time. Brown met a need to improve the depth on the defensive line, and could be a steal if he consistently applies his quickness and strength. Woodside, Taylor, and Tate were all excellent picks late in the draft, though I thought they might pick a tight end since Tyler Eifert has had injury issues.

Reuter gave the Bengals a B+ for the team’s overall efforts and an A for the haul of seven guys the team drafted on Saturday in Rounds 4-7, specifically.

The Bengals started off Saturday by surprisingly drafting Miami running back Mark Walton, an impressive playmaker who can also serve as a returner on special teams for the Bengals. The team got nothing out of its running backs on special teams last year, but that is certain to change with Walton in the fold. Walton returned 18 kicks for 304 yards (16.9 yards per return average) while in college. He also made a few plays on defense, showing off his versatility. He was expected to be a Round 4 pick, which is exactly where the Bengals got him. But, that’s not all.

“He’s played both on the kickoff team and the punt team,” Marvin Lewis said on Saturday after the Bengals drafted Walton. “He’s been a productive player. He makes (Bengals special teams coordinator) Darrin Simmons very happy, since we added someone who can come here and compete for a spot on our football team. In college, he was a productive guy playing special teams. As we know, many of these guys aren’t involved in that way — it’s just certain programs who will use guys in that fashion.”

 

After Walton, the Bengals drafted two cornerbacks and a defensive tackle in Round 5: Davontae Harris and Darius Phillips are the cornerbacks and Andrew Brown the tackle. And in the seventh round, the Bengals went with a quarterback in Logan Woodside, who could prove to be a major steal. They also added guard Rod Taylor and wide receiver Auden Tate.

All three of the seventh rounders will have a chance to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster in 2018. Woodside will be fighting for the right to backup Andy Dalton while Taylor looks to earn a spot as the Bengals’ starting right guard and Tate tries to find a place in a crowded wide receiver room.

As for the fifth rounders, Harris has nice speed and ball skills while boasting aggression in the run game, which is something the Bengals need. He could play both safety and cornerback based on how the Bengals want to use him. It’s also easy to see how he could contribute on special teams, which is often a requirement for young Bengals.

Brown joins a defensive tackle group that has a lot of potential but not great results outside of Geno Atkins. He’s a high-character guy who started all 13 games in 2017 for the Cavaliers. And Phillips, is a short (5’10”) but impressive cornerback who can also contribute on special teams as a kick and punt returner. He had 12 interceptions over the last three seasons and 35 passes defended. The Bengals have been looking for guys who can force turnovers and he fits the bill.

 

 

https://www.cincyjungle.com/2018/4/29/17298118/nfl-draft-grades-2018-analyst-gives-bengals-b-impressive-day-3

 

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Luke Easterling, Draft Wire – A

“I might have changed a couple of these picks, but overall, I see a ton of value up and down this board. Billy Price is exactly what the interior of this offensive line needed, while, Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard and Malik Jefferson gave the defense a talented playmaker at every level. Mark Walton could be a Gio Bernard replacement, though there were better running back options available. Day 3 was loaded with value like Andrew Brown, Darius Phillips and Auden Tate. Logan Woodside is an intriguing project at quarterback, too. The only things missing were a tight end and a tackle.”

 

Nate Davis, USA Today – B

“There may not be a Pro Bowler among C Billy Price, S Jessie Bates, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Malik Jefferson or RB Mark Walton. Yet all could quickly contribute for a franchise that generally doesn’t get enough recognition for drafting effectively.”

 

Chad Reuter, NFL.com – B+

“Picking up Cordy Glenn from the Bills for a move down of 10 spots in the first round will help their offensive line, so that needs to be considered here. Selecting Price, a center/guard, continues the Bengals’ effort to get stronger up front, though I think there could have been more of a difference-maker selected here. The Bengals could have waited and landed a very good interior offensive lineman in the second or third round. The Bengals picked up an extra third-round pick by moving down a few spots in Round 2. Their back-to-back third-rounders — Hubbard and Jefferson — beef up their front seven. The games of both guys weren’t loved by scouts, but in the third round, these picks make sense. Jefferson could be a particularly good value if everything comes together as he matures. Walton is a well-rounded offensive weapon, presenting good value in the fourth round. I’ve been a fan of Harris since the fall. I suspect he’ll be a very good reserve corner in time. Brown met a need to improve the depth on the defensive line, and could be a steal if he consistently applies his quickness and strength. Woodside, Taylor, and Tate were all excellent picks late in the draft, though I thought they might pick a tight end since Tyler Eifert has had injury issues.”

 

Andy Benoit, MMQB – A-

“The Bengals restocked defensive depth in the middle rounds, drafting safety Jessie Bates, end Sam Hubbard and linebacker Malik Jefferson. That replenished depth is extra critical this year because every noted front-seven contributor’s contract, save for Vontaze Burfict’s, Jordan Willis’s and Carl Lawson’s, expires after 2018. Bates will replace Shawn Williams, who is better suited as a movable safety in sub-packages, but that transition may take a year to unfold, given that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s two-deep scheme places a lot of mental burden on safeties.”

 

Dan Kadar, SB Nation – B+

“The Bengals picked apart the second day of the draft, getting a few starters. Safety Jessie Bates III is one of the draft’s best coverage safeties. He’s the type of safety the Bengals needed for the back of their secondary. Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard slid further than expected, but he’s a versatile player with good athleticism. A pick later, linebacker Malik Jefferson gives the Bengals another good athlete. Are you seeing a theme here for Cincinnati’s defense?”

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13 hours ago, ccartman2 said:

In other news. Thor has just been fired for giving the Stealers a C

He should be. C was way too generous.

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1 hour ago, oldschooler said:

The Bengals could have waited and landed a very good interior offensive lineman in the second or third round.

Clearly not, if you look at who was on the board. It's one thing to pretend we didn't get full value, but another to make up stuff when we knew for a fact who was left when our next picks rolled around.

 

Okay I'd have taken Wynn with the first and hoped to grab Price in the second, but to claim there were armies of high-quality Tackles left in the third is a joke.

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2 hours ago, Hooky said:

He should be. C was way too generous.

 

 

You think that was too generous? This dude said "hold my beer"....

 

 


Pittsburgh Stealers 
Draft picks: Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds (No. 28 overall), Oklahoma State WR James Washington (No. 60 overall), Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (No. 76 overall), Western Michigan OT Chukwuma Okorafor (No. 92 overall), Penn State S Marcus Allen (No. 148 overall), N.C. State RB Jaylen Samuels (No. 165 overall), Alabama DT Joshua Frazier (No. 246 overall). 
Day 1 grade: B+ 
Day 2 grade: B+ 
Day 3 grade: A 
Overall grade: B+ 
The skinny: The Stealers went safety, as expected, but picked Edmunds, the brother of fellow first-round pick Tremaine, instead of Stanford's Justin Reid and others. This was a surprise pick to most, and probably a round early -- but given his strength and NFL bloodlines (father, Ferrell, played tight end in the league), but maybe it shouldn't have been. He'll be a welcomed addition to the team, either way. Trading Martavis Bryant to Oakland for a third-round pick meant they needed to find another big-play receiver. Washington isn't tall or an elite speedster, but his super-long arms and ability to win the jump ball make him a solid find late in the second round. He was paired with his former teammate, Rudolph, in the third round. They could make for an interesting duo in a couple of years. Rudolph was a good third-round value. Okorafor could become a starter, but needs to work harder and faster on the field or he'll be out of the league fast. Allen adds another tough-minded safety to the Stealers' defensive back trove, though I believe he could be used in a linebacker-type role to take advantage of his toughness and agility. Samuels fits the Stealers' usage of fullback/H-backs quite well, and will add another wrinkle to their offense. Frazier is a perfect fit for a team in need of a hardworking nose tackle.

 

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000930225/article/2018-nfl-draft-final-quicksnap-grades-for-all-32-teams

 

 

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The whole idea of "NFL bloodlines" makes me laugh. Think back through history of the premier sportsmen in any sport you care to name, and almost none of them came from "bloodline stock". Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Ayrton Senna, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Reggie White, Hank Aaron etc.

Pick a safety because his dad played TE is just ridiculous. If quality was genetic I wouldn't be a disappointment to my parents.

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46 minutes ago, VonBlade said:

The whole idea of "NFL bloodlines" makes me laugh. Think back through history of the premier sportsmen in any sport you care to name, and almost none of them came from "bloodline stock". Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Ayrton Senna, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Reggie White, Hank Aaron etc.

Pick a safety because his dad played TE is just ridiculous. If quality was genetic I wouldn't be a disappointment to my parents.

I agree with your point on bloodlines in this instance, but it's actually pretty easy to name elite players whose father was also pretty damn good in that sport. Steph Curry, Peyton and Eli Manning, Ken Griffey Jr., Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds (he was incredible even before he started cheating), Prince Fielder, Brett Hull, Clay Matthews III, etc. Which makes sense, I think. You need to have a certain level of natural ability and athleticism to be that good, which is determined largely by genetics.

 

Of course, there's also an important role played by the younger player's environment, which can lead to all kinds of different paths taken. And, to your point, that's why it's silly to draft a player based solely on pedigree -- it ignores a lot of really important information. 

 

 

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I rate the draft a solid "B" overall. It wasn't a sexy draft, but that's GOOD and we acquired needed solid players that are good and are for WHERE we need them. I think they could have drafted at least one more OLineman (tackle) but we did need some improvement in the ballhawking department on defense, and Walton was a good pick if for nothing else his punt and kickoff return abilities now that Jones is gone. It's quality depth in an often injured position too.

 

 I think they had two draft board plans, one titled "MB is awake" and the other "MB is napping". If Plan A had been implemented, we'd have three new QB's and an embarrassment of riches at the punter and kicker positions. 

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I liked most of the players and can be talked into the rest. I don't like not getting more lineman. That is our biggest issue 

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2 minutes ago, MichaelWeston said:

I liked most of the players and can be talked into the rest. I don't like not getting more lineman. That is our biggest issue 

 

Hobson mentioned elsewhere that there were health concerns for the 2nd-3rd round OT's.  Anyone drafted later is unlikely to come in & save us from Ogbuehi or whoever so it was kind of a wash there.

 

Otherwise yeah, the team seems hell bent on hanging their season on the health of Cordy Glenn's foot, so fuck it.. Tired of yelling about it.  Maybe they bring in a late FA, someone cut elsewhere or whatever.  Maybe they don't, wouldn't be the first time their stubborn commitment to injury-prone players bit them in the ass.  Not my circus.

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9 minutes ago, T-Dub said:

 

Hobson mentioned elsewhere that there were health concerns for the 2nd-3rd round OT's.  Anyone drafted later is unlikely to come in & save us from Ogbuehi or whoever so it was kind of a wash there.

 

Otherwise yeah, the team seems hell bent on hanging their season on the health of Cordy Glenn's foot, so fuck it.. Tired of yelling about it.  Maybe they bring in a late FA, someone cut elsewhere or whatever.  Maybe they don't, wouldn't be the first time their stubborn commitment to injury-prone players bit them in the ass.  Not my circus.

I am optimistic about Glenn being healed, if only because Mike Brown doesn't like spending money and Glenn has an expensive contract so I am sure that he was pretty serious about physicals and medical evaluations so he didn't waste a penny (he's got a dollar off regular unleaded at Kroger on his Plus card coming up, so he's looking forward to a complete fillup on the Lumina next time).

 

I also think Fisher is going to surprise us. Coming off a serious heart heart issue, and the fact that he was starting to develop IMO prior to being sidelined by the heart problem, he's going to put in the work and be a good RT for us. I honestly believe he'll be one of our most improved players and between that, Glenn and Price, along with Pollack's guidance and scheme, we're going to be one of the better units in the NFL next season.

 

I should tag this thread and eat or serve my future crow....

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3 minutes ago, Bunghole said:

I am optimistic about Glenn being healed, if only because Mike Brown doesn't like spending money and Glenn has an expensive contract so I am sure that he was pretty serious about physicals and medical evaluations so he didn't waste a penny (he's got a dollar off regular unleaded at Kroger on his Plus card coming up, so he's looking forward to a complete fillup on the Lumina next time).

 

I also think Fisher is going to surprise us. Coming off a serious heart heart issue, and the fact that he was starting to develop IMO prior to being sidelined by the heart problem, he's going to put in the work and be a good RT for us. I honestly believe he'll be one of our most improved players and between that, Glenn and Price, along with Pollack's guidance and scheme, we're going to be one of the better units in the NFL next season.

 

I should tag this thread and eat or serve my future crow....

 

Don't worry I'll remind you :P

 

I think you might be right about Fisher, FWIW.  I just hate the lack of depth at OT.  Rarely do we make it all year without having to start a 3rd man at some point, even if it's a game or two.  It's an incredibly tough position. 

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Sweet! Definitely remind me, but give it a game or two for them to gel. If we're 0-4 and it can in any way be directly tied to shitty oline play, let me have it!

 

:lol:

 

 

But seriously, this has been a serious issue for two seasons now, even when Whitworth and Zeitler were here in their last year. It's been the crappy interior line play that has sucked, mucking up the inside run game and having a pocket for Dalton shaped like a "V" rather than an upside down "U"!

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5 hours ago, VonBlade said:

Clearly not, if you look at who was on the board. It's one thing to pretend we didn't get full value, but another to make up stuff when we knew for a fact who was left when our next picks rolled around.

 

Okay I'd have taken Wynn with the first and hoped to grab Price in the second, but to claim there were armies of high-quality Tackles left in the third is a joke.

I would have loved to have Wynn or Hernandez in this draft but the difference of Price to bum FA or later round draft pick is so significant compared to Wynn/Hernandez and Westerman/Redmond.

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Like others have stated I would have loved to see the Bengals get more offensive linemen, specifically an OT because our current crop includes either hurt guys or guys who are horrible or both.

 

Glenn hasn't played a full season since Trump was just a crazy birther getting roasted on Comedy Central and Ryan Fitzgerald was a top ten QB. Ced is just awful, I don't know how he has a contract to play pro football. Fisher's heart damn near exploded and before that he wasn't an All Pro before he was diagnosed with the irregular heart beat.

 

The failure to properly address the OT position cost the Bengals severely last season, I hope the history won't repeat itself.

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5 favorite 2018 draft classes

 

No, these aren’t draft grades. This is about me and my personal evaluation of the draft classes and which hauls were my favorite.

When I consider the talent added and how needs were addressed, I found five teams that did masterful work. Let’s examine.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

1. (21) Ohio State C Billy Price
2. (54) Wake Forest S Jessie Bates
3. (77) Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
3. (78) Texas LB Malik Jefferson
4. (112) Miami RB Mark Walkton
5. (151) Illinois State CB Davontae Harris
5. (158) Virginia DT Andrew Brown
5. (170) Western Michigan CB Darius Phillips
7. (249) Toledo QB Logan Woodsie
7. (252) Ole Miss OG Rod Taylor
7. (253) Florida State WR Auden Tate

After adding Cordy Glenn who is a top-10 NFL left tackle when healthy, the Bengals continued improving its offensive line with Price who has plug and play upside. He excels in every facet and is a highly decorated blocker with 50+ starts in the Big Ten entering the league.


 
The Bengals continued to build a secondary full of defensive backs with ball skills with its choice of Bates. Bates is a versatile defensive back, capable of functioning in deep zones or in man coverage from the slot. He can fill the role of center fielder and break on pressured throws by Cincy’s talented defensive line.

Hubbard is a rock-solid prospect as a 4-3 defensive end. He has the size, hand technique and power desired to serve as a base end. He can pair with rookie sensation Carl Lawson to secure the long-term future of the position.

Jefferson fits the mold of a Bengals linebacker, with even more athletic ability. While he must improve his processing skills, he can be used in sub packages initially before challenging for a starting job in 2018.

Brown has first round size (6-3, 294 lbs, 35 1/8″ arms), strength and athleticism. A two-gapping five-technique in college, Brown shined in an attacking role as a 4-3 three-technique at the Senior Bowl. He’s a former consensus 5-star recruit and No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in the nation coming out of high school. Likely to play three-technique for the Bengals, Brown is one to watch as a late-round steal.

And for a late seventh round pick, Tate is an intriguing, big-bodied receiver with excellent ball skills to challenge the depth of the Bengals receiving corps.

The Bengals did a tremendous job of attacking needs and collecting talent.

 

https://www.ndtscouting.com/marino-5-favorite-2018-draft-classes/

 

 

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SportingNews, Vinny Iyer

The Bengals got a good value for a huge need in Price. Hubbard and Jefferson, although not transcendent players, can be key contributors. Cincinnati got good volume and variety, including two intriguing late-rounders in Woodside and Tate. The class is average overall, but it makes up for last year’s mess.

Grade: B-

 

Pro Football Focus, Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo

1 (21) Billy Price, C, Ohio State, 83.82 (overall PFF grade)

(54) Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest, 78.33

(77) Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State, 80.83

(78) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas, 87.54

(112) Mark Walton, RB, Miami (Fla.), 86.15

(151) Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State, n/a

(158) Andrew Brown, DI, Virginia, 77.15

(170) Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan, 84.27

(249) Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo, 84.17

](252) Rod Taylor, OT, Ole Miss, 83.17

(253) Auden Tate, WR, Florida State, 82.3

Day 1: The Bengals were rumored to have been targeting a center in the first round, and with our top center, Frank Ragnow, coming off the board right before their pick, they stuck with the need pick with Billy Price. He has experience playing multiple positions at Ohio State, capping his career with two solid years of grading (84.7 in 2016, 83.2 in 2017). Price is aggressive both as a run-blocker and in pass protection, a trait that works both for and against him. He ranked sixth in the draft class with a run-block success percentage of 92.0, but only 27th in pass-blocking efficiency at 97.6.

Day 2: Jessie Bates is one of few safeties who can hang with receivers in 1-on-1 situations, and he’s made a few spectacular plays when matched up in “quarters” looks. He’s also willing to mix it up in the run game, though he must do a better job of preventing big plays after missing 16 tackles on only 81 attempts last season. Sam Hubbard had a solid career at Ohio State, grading at 83.0 in 2016 and 80.8 last season. He’s done his best work in the run game as his best pass-rush grade of 79.0 came in 2016. Malik Jefferson started to live up to his five-star pedigree last year after struggling in his first two seasons. He ranked 14th in the draft class with a run-stop percentage of 12.1 percent, though he must cut back on the missed tackles after missing 36 on only 250 career attempts.

Day 3: Mark Walton has a number of spectacular cuts on tape, showing the quickness and speed to be a weapon as both a runner and as a receiver. He posted an excellent 86.1 overall grade last season before going down due to an ankle injury. Andrew Brown posted average grades throughout his career showing through in his 7.6 pass-rush productivity that ranked 28th in the class and his run-stop percentage of 5.6 that ranked 77th. Darius Phillips posted three solid years of grading at corner, picking off 12 passes and breaking up 26 on 206 targets. Logan Woodside is an intriguing backup option as he ranked 11th in big-time throw percentage in the draft class, but only 22nd at avoiding turnover-worthy plays. He posted grades of 86.3 in 2016 and 84.3 in 2017. Auden Tate can do damage in the red zone with his long frame and he ranked sixth in the nation with a 66.7 percent catch rate in contested situations last season.

Overall grade: Average

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Cincinnati Bengals' 2018 draft: Analysis for every pick

 

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Apr 28, 2018
  • terrell_katherine.png&w=160&h=160&scale=
    Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

Breaking down the Cincinnati Bengals' 2018 draft class.

Round 1, No. 21 overall: Billy Price, C, Ohio State

 

2018 NFL DRAFT

r362618_608x342_16-9.jpg

All 256 picks are in. Full coverage »

Insider Kiper: Draft grades for every team »
Insider McShay: Every team's best pick »
 Nation: Top post-draft questions to follow »
 Nation: Breaking down picks by team »
 Graziano: Biggest post-draft stories »
 Trade tracker: Every move, by team »
Insider McShay: Top undrafted prospects »
 Barnwell: Who aced Round 1 trades »
 New digits: Picks get jersey numbers »
InsiderKiper's winners: Day 1 » | 2 »
InsiderMcShay's awards: Day 1 » | 2 »
 Nation: Pros, cons for first 32 picks »

My take: The Bengals have made a serious commitment to revamping their offensive line, and it shows. The addition of Price is the third move they've made this offseason to fix a line that struggled last year. They hired former Cowboys O-line coach Frank Pollack, traded for left tackleCordy Glenn, and now have their center of the future. This is a good step toward fixing an offense that ranked last in the league in 2017. Price said his goal is to "set the league on fire from day one," and he has an opportunity to be a starter from Week 1.

 

Pectoral muscle is healing: Price partially tore his pectoral muscle at the NFL scouting combine and elected to have surgery as soon as he could so that he could be on track to be 100 percent by training camp. The Bengals said Price passed all of their medical exams and they clearly feel comfortable with the injury, even if that means Price misses OTAs. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor pointed out that padded practices aren't allowed until training camp anyway, so that won't be a problem. Price said he's two months out from being completely medically cleared.

Price's dream come true: It has been a trying few months for the Ohio native after suffering what he called a "freak accident" at the NFL combine. Price said the injury was "sickening" and was worried that all of his hard work would be for nothing. Clearly things worked out in his favor, as he'll get to stay in his home state and go to a team just a few hours down the road. He was so excited to end up in Cincinnati that he stared at his phone in disbelief when the Bengals called to select him. His agent actually had to remind him to answer the phone. "I looked at my agent and said 'Holy s--- it's Cincinnati!" Price said he was looking to bring "Ohio State football" to Cincinnati.

What's next: The Bengals have three picks in Day 2, and there's a lot of different ways they could go now that a pressing need has been addressed. The Bengals could look to draft a player at linebacker or on the defensive line. Adding another cornerback or even a wide receiver isn't out of the question. Middle linebacker Preston Brown is on a one-year contract and weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict has repeatedly been out of the lineup because of injuries and suspension. The Bengals added running back Joe Mixon and defensive end Jordan Willis on Day 2 last year. Both rookies impressed in their first year and will be a big part of the lineup in their second seasons.

 

 


Round 2, No. 54 overall: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

 

Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports

My take: The Bengals clearly have been on the hunt for a safety after extending an offer to Kurt Coleman in free agency and also bringing in Eric Reid for a visit. Although it doesn't jump out as a top need, the Bengals have clearly been looking to upgrade for a while, and there's a reason they liked Bates in particular. They've talked extensively about the need for a ball hawk after forcing only 15 turnovers last season. Bates had six interceptions (two returned for touchdowns in 2016), two forced fumbles and nine pass breakups in two seasons at Wake Forest.

How he fits: Although George Iloka and Shawn Williams are the current starting safeties, Bates opens up some defensive possibilities for coordinator Teryl Austin. Bates also doubles as a punt returner and could slide into the open spot vacated by the departure of Adam Jones. Bates returned eight punts for 161 yards and a touchdown. He described himself as a "film junkie" and said his IQ is one of his best attributes as player, as well as his ability to play in multiple spots on the field.

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"I think I can do everything, I think I can set down in the box, play a run fit, set down in the slot and play man-to-man," Bates said. "I think everyone knows I can play in the middle of the field. I look forward to showing all of those and making an impact wherever Coach wants me to."


Round 3, No. 77 overall: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

 

Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire

My take: Hubbard will likely be put into the rotation as a rookie, although how much playing time he’ll get in Year 1 is questionable with so many young players on the defensive line. However, Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin likes his versatility, and he’s going to be able to find a way to use him, Hubbard has 17 career sacks and 10 career quarterback hits, so he’ll find a way to help the Bengals' pass rush, which now boasts players like Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlapand Carl Lawson.

How he fits: Austin said Hubbard can play outside or rush from the inside, which gives the Bengals some rotational flexibility. The Bengals will likely useMichael Johnson in a limited role rushing from the inside on third down, whileJordan Willis and Hubbard can be outside rushers on the opposite side of Dunlap. Hubbard could also kick inside on certain situations.


Round 3, No. 78 overall: Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas

 

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says he thinks that Malik Jefferson could play all three linebacker spots. Ben Porter for Longhorn Network

My take: The Bengals’ group of linebackers was in serious trouble toward the end of the season due to injuries and it became pretty clear that was a position that could be upgraded. The Bengals need to continue looking to the future at that position, especially with Vontaze Burfict starting another season on suspension. Although the cards didn’t fall right for them to get a linebacker in the first round without trading up, they were still able to trade down on Day 2 and get a player they had targeted.

How he fits: Jefferson said he feels most natural on the outside, but Austin said he feels he can play in both the middle and the outside. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he thinks that he could play all three linebacker spots. Lewis said he thinks Jefferson is still growing as a player, but his athleticism and speed jumped out at him when he was being scouted.


Round 4, No. 112 overall: Mark Walton, RB, Miami

My take: This pick was a bit of a surprise because there are still a few holes on the Bengals' offensive line. However, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said Walton was one of the best players remaining on their board on Saturday morning. Walton is a Giovani Bernard-type who can both run and catch, but with Joe Mixon and Bernard on the roster, Walton will be a backup.

“This is the NFL, and there are times when your first back or your second back is going to miss a game here and there, so you want the very best next runner to be available to play,” Lazor said. “Just like last year when Brian Hill came in and had to make plays on offense. He did it.”

How he fits: Walton will likely become the third running back behind Mixon and Bernard, and could be someone to give Mixon a breather or fill in if there’s an injury. But his main role is going to be on special teams for the time being, especially with Cedric Peerman remaining unsigned. Walton can play both kickoff and punt coverage, which fills a need considering the special-teams units struggled at times last year.


Round 5, No. 151 overall: Davontae Harris, DB, Illinois State

My take: The Bengals called Harris a "raw talent," indicating they see him as someone with a lot of upside at his position who can also be a special-teams gunner. Harris is a cornerback who can potentially play safety. "I can go in and I can play anything in the secondary, the safety, nickel, or outside corner, where I'm used to playing ... and also look to make an impact on special teams as well," Harris said.

How he fits: The Bengals are looking at Harris as an outside corner, which mean he'll start as a reserve behind William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick, who will man the outside spots while Darqueze Dennard will likely play in the slot. If the team keeps five cornerbacks, there will be a lot of competition for the remaining two spots and being able to play special teams will likely help toward making the roster. Harris said physicality and speed are two of his best traits.


Round 5, No. 158 overall: Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia

 

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Prospect Profile: Andrew Brown

Check out some highlights of defensive tackle Andrew Brown during his time at Virginia.

My take: The Bengals said it gets harder to project who can be a starter on Day 3, and Brown is clearly another rotational player who will sub in depending on the package. Brown will get a chance to play next to Geno Atkins, who he called an "absolute monster." Brown's career has been up and down after coming out of high school as a five-star recruit, but he had a chance to shine as a starter in his final two seasons at Virginia, coming away with nine sacks.

How he fits: The Bengals see Brown as a three technique, or the same position that Atkins plays. The Bengals also feel he has the ability to play the five technique if needed. He'll join the defensive tackle rotation. Brown said he models himself after Aaron Donald.


Round 5, No. 170 overall: Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan

My take: Phillips is a dynamic player who set an FBS career record with 12 career runbacks for touchdowns, including a record five interceptions returned for touchdowns, five kickoff return touchdowns, one punt return for a touchdown and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. However, he seems more like a special-teams player than someone who will see the field on defense right away.

How he fits: Phillips is clearly going to get his start playing special teams, and that could add competition at kick returner. One of the punt return spots was vacated by Adam Jones, but there will be competition for Alex Erickson at the kickoff return spot. The Bengals have been looking for ball-hawking playmakers, and clearly they'll try to find a way to get him in the lineup.


Round 7, No. 249 overall: Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo

 

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Prospect Profile: Logan Woodside

Logan Woodside had some great throws in his time playing QB at Toledo.

My take: The Bengals had discussions about taking a quarterback on Day 2 of the draft, but ultimately ended up addressing other positions. Clearly that means they're not set on the idea of looking for a successor to Andy Dalton. WithAJ McCarron now on another team, drafting Woodside is a way of potentially addressing the backup position.

How he fits: Woodside is going to have a chance to compete for the backup spot against Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel, but he's no lock to make the team. The Bengals won't know until late in the summer if they have the numbers to carry two or three quarterbacks, and the veteran Barkley is likely going to have a slight edge at this spot heading into training camp.


Round 7, No. 252 overall: Rod Taylor, G/T, Mississippi

My take: The Bengals didn't address the offensive line for most of the draft after taking center Billy Price in the first round. Taking Taylor in the seventh round is simply a depth add, and he's likely going to be a project who the Bengals hope to get on the practice squad. However, it works in his favor that he can play more than one position.

How he fits: If Taylor makes the team, he'll be a utility player who can swing from both guard to tackle, which is probably a necessary trait for those fighting to make the last spot or two on the offensive line.


Round 7, No. 253 overall:Auden Tate, WR, Florida State

My take: Tate doesn't exactly have blazing speed, as he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash. However, he didn't attribute his fall in the draft to that. Tate said teams knew he wasn't a "burner" but had concerns about a shoulder issue that has been cleared up.

How he fits: It's going to be an uphill battle for Tate to make the team with the huge group of receivers in front of him. The Bengals don't see a move to tight end in the cards for him, so he's likely a potential practice squad player they would hope to develop.

 

 

http://www.espn.com/blog/cincinnati-bengals/post/_/id/29909/cincinnati-bengals-2018-draft-analysis-for-every-selection

 

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Draft grades are almost as useless as mock drafts.  I think the Bengals did well but who really knows anything until they hit the field.  I was surprised they took so many early picks on defense and that they didn't take didn't take someone to compete at RT.  Overall it wasn't what many of us expected after round 1 but we won't know much until months/years from now.

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