Although the Bengals picked 11 players over the past 3 days, all of the media coverage was on one. Here, we take a look at all of them, because it is about the entire draft, not one player controversial selection.
Round 1. Pick 9.
John Ross, WR, Washington
You have heard how I feel about the Bengals top choice in the 2017 draft. Ross is the Bengals first top ten pick since 2011, when they chose another receiver, A.J. Green. His speed is the first trait that stands out, as he broke the combine record in the 40 with a blazing 4.22. But, he isn’t a track star who is playing football. He is a wide receiver, who happens to have world-class speed. Wide receiver may not have been the biggest need, but his skill set is ideal for what the Bengals were missing in the offense. He will be able to stretch the field, thriving in one on one situations with Green getting all of the double teams. This may require teams to play two deep safeties, which opens the middle up for TE Tyler Eifert and slot receiver Tyler Boyd. An underrated positive of this pick will be the improvement in the struggling running game as it will face less 7 and 8 man boxes. Grade: B+
Round 2. Pick 48 (acquired from the Minnesota Vikings)
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
I must admit, I was not happy when the Bengals traded back. With Dalvin Cook and Mixon still on the board at 41, I was worried that they were not be able to get one of those guys. As it turned out, the Bengals got exactly what they wanted. At 48, they made the most controversial pick of the entire draft. His on-the-field talent is unquestioned. He would have been a top-15 pick and is the most complete back in the draft. His two most common comps to current players were David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. If he comes anywhere close to those two, he is the steal of the draft. Everyone knows Mixon’s past, especially if you were watching ESPN’s draft coverage (which questions your intelligence in the first place). As an 18 year old, Mixon made the biggest mistake a man can make. He punched a woman and broke her jaw in 4 places. It is indefensible. Personally, I believe in 2nd chances for those who serve the consequences that are given to them. Joe Mixon has done all that he can do a this point. Now, we give him a chance. Grade: B+
Round 3. Pick 73.
Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas St.
While the top two picks will get all the love on the field from the fans, the Bengals best picks in the draft were made in rounds three and four. Jordan Willis was seen as a fringe first round pick. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as their 15th best player. While undersized (on Bengals standards) for a defensive end, Willis had the top time in the 40 at the combine, which shows his superb athleticism. He has the quickness to get around the edge and the strength to hold up his own against the run. The best component of his game is his fierce determination and work ethic. The Bengals will not have to worry about Willis taking off plays, or willingness to improve. Willis will be in the rotation opposite of Carlos Dunlap. Grade: A-
Round 4. Pick 116.
Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
In terms of value, no pick the Bengals made has better value than the pick of Lawson. He was Pro Football Focus’ 14th best player (one spot ahead of Willis), and Dane Brugler of ESPN had a 1st-2nd round grade on him. He dropped all the way to the fourth because of his durability concerns. He missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL and also had surgery on his hip while at Auburn. He has a quick first-step to combine with elite hands to rush the passer, but doesn’t have ideal length. Much like Willis, he preparation and work-ethic is top-notch. Along with Willis, Lawson will compete with Michael Johnson for the majority of snaps at RDE. These two are much needed depth to the defensive line. Grade: A
Round 4. Pick 128.
Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
After taking Ross in the first round, picking another wide receiver wasn’t expected at this spot. There is a consistency among all of the picks though: speed. At 6’3″, Malone ran an impressive 4.4 to draw comparisons to former day three selection Marvin Jones. In a run-first offense at Tennessee, Malone average over 19 yards per reception and had 11 touchdowns during his senior season. His route-running will need improvement, which makes Cincinnati a nice fit. He will struggle to find snaps, barring injury, in year one, but could be valuable on special teams with his toughness and speed. Grade: B
Round 4. Pick 138.
Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
After losing longtime defensive tackle, Domata Peko, the Bengals will have to find their new starter along the line next to Geno Atkins. Peko was a shell of his former self his past couple seasons, so an upgrade won’t be too hard to find. Ryan Glasgow is one of the guys that will be in the competition for that spot (along with Andrew Billings and Pat Sims). The theme of picking hardworking tough defensive lineman continued when they picked Glasgow, as he uses determination and raw power to excel against the run. What some may see as a reach, he will never be a 3-down player like Atkins, but could develop into a similar role as Peko (also a 4th round pick). The Bengals’ defensive coaching staff have to love this new infusion of young players, with the work-ethic they all have. Grade: B-
Round 5. Pick 153.
Jake Elliott, K, Memphis
The first kicker off the board! Unlike the Buccaneers a year ago, the Bengals didn’t reach TOO much on a kicker. While Elliott may have been there in round six, kicker was certainly a need for Cincinnati. Last season, no team missed more kicks than the Bengals. This included several game winners, Washington and Houston, as well as other game-changing kicks. No one in college football was as efficient from 50+, or on PATs, than Elliott. While consistency was in issue over his four years at Memphis, he improved with it from distance over his four years. The biggest concern? 6 misses from 30-39 years, the distance of NFL extra-points, in his final two years. Grade: C+
Round 5, Pick 176.
J.J. Dielman, OC, Utah
While most casual fans may think the Bengals are crazy for waiting until their 8th pick to address the offensive line, I think it was the absolute correct thing to do. Cincinnati loves lineman with versatility. Not too many lineman in draft have as much as Dielman. He played guard throughout high school, tackle his first two years at Utah, and finally center in his senior season before missing their final 8 games with a leg injury. A big part of the perception of the draft will be determined by the play of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. If they show improvement, the Bengals decision to wait on offensive lineman will look great. If not, let the critics go crazy! Grade: B
Round 6, Pick 193.
Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
My favorite pick of day three. I had Evans on my list of guys who the Bengals should target on day three and apparently they read the Curse of Bo Blog! While tackling with consistency and toughness all the time are the biggest question mark surrounding Evans, playing in coverage is his biggest strength. For what seems like forever, they have never been able to cover tight ends and running backs. Their linebackers have been slow and their “fixes” to the problem (Emmanuel Lamur, Karlos Dansby), haven’t panned out. Hopefully, Evans can eventually be part of the solution. He had 12 pass breakups and 4 interceptions, including 2 for TDs, last season and LB coach Jim Haslett has already said Evans is “one of the better cover guys I’ve seen in a long time.” He measurables are eerily similar to former Bengals great David Fulcher, but in today’s NFL, linebacker is his spot. Darrin Simmons will love him on special teams while he makes the transition, but no be surprised if he is on the verge of starting as soon as 2018. Grade: A-
Round 6. Pick 207 (acquired from Tennessee)
Brandon Wilson, DB, Houston
The Bengals packaged their 6th round compensatory pick and first 7th round selection to jump up 10 spots to grab Wilson. The do-everything former Cougar scored touchdowns in 6 different ways during his time at Houston, and got himself into draft talks when he dazzled with his pro-day performance. He has elite athleticism, but is very unpolished as a defensive player. No one really knows what position he would play, but has experience as a returner, cornerback, safety, and even running back. While probably a year on the practice squad is in his future, his shot for a spot on the 53 is through special teams. Grade: B-
Round 7. Pick 251.
Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo
Schreck had a deal in place with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent, but the Bengals called his name with the third to last pick. He was used as a blocker primarily during his first three years, but caught 59 passes as a senior. Schreck is an unfinished product who lacks top speed, but has flashes of athleticism on contested catches. Schreck provides solid depth if Eifert, Uzomah, or Kroft goes down. A year on the practice squad seems likely. Grade: B
When looking at the Bengals draft, how people perceive it will decided on one man. Joe Mixon. Those who are ok with letting Mixon prove he deserves a second shot will love it. Those who cannot root for a player who did what he did will hate it. Regardless, the Bengals picked up great value throughout, especially with Willis and Lawson. It was clear they had one big goal in mind. They wanted to get faster. They wanted to be more dynamic. They achieved that. They picked the fastest player in the draft, the fastest defensive lineman, the most dynamic back in the draft, as well as combine/pro-day stars. They did this while filling perceived holes.
2017 Draft Grade: B+
All player pictures inserted in article were from @Bengals twitter. They own all rights.