Having previewed the Cincinnati Bengals’ Draft last, it’s only fair I start with them when discussing picks. The Bengals were extremely busy in last week’s draft, making a massive 10 picks. You can find my draft preview here but I suggested the Bengals really needed to add help at linebacker, offensive tackle and tight end, as well as a backup quarterback. So how did they did they do?
Round 1, Pick 11 (No. 11 overall):Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
I wrote about Williams in my draft preview:
If Alabama’s Jonah Williams, the top offensive tackle available, falls to the Bengals they should sprint to the podium. He could start at either guard or tackle but in Cincinnati the greater need is tackle.
The Bengals did just that. And while left tackle Cordy Glenn was far from perfect last year, he was more impressive than the team’s starting guards. For that reason we may see Williams starting his career. Personally I’d play him at right tackle, where Bobby Hart struggled. Wherever he plays, there’s no doubt that Williams will be given every opportunity to be a starter come opening day. This will be music to Andy Dalton’s ears, as he struggles when hurried. Williams is good pick who should develop into a Pro Bowl player.
Round 2, Pick 20 (No. 52 overall): Drew Sample, TE, Washington
Tight end was another position where the Bengals had a clear need. The Bengals acted accordingly, adding Sample in the second round. Whilst his blocking skills will be an asset in Zac Taylor’s new scheme, Sample’s receiving skills impressed Brian Callahan, the Bengals offensive coordinator. He stated Sample’s “going to play a heavy role for us on offense. He makes our tight end group a little more dynamic with the guys we already have here.”. However, the USA Today argue that Sample was a poor value, one dimensional pick, citing his 25 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns in 2018 as a major reason this pick is a miss. Cincinnati must feel confident this was more a product of Washington’s offensive scheme than his ability. For me, and the majority of those reviewing the draft, this was a reach that was unnecessary.
Round 3, Pick 8 (No. 72 overall): Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State
Pro Football Focus noted that opposing QBs had an impressive 113.4 passer rating when targeting the Bengals linebackers in 2018. Cincinnati accordingly addressed the need for a linebacker with their third round pick. The drafting of Pratt, an athletic, versatile linebacker, is the first step to solidifying the position. The NC State linebacker will play a heavy role from the season opener, before tackling his way into a starting role early in the season. His solid tackling, good pass rush skills and stand out run stopping offer an upgrade over what we saw most of last year. Good pick.
Round 4, Pick 2 (No. 104 overall): Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
With this pick the Bengals addressed the final of four needs I identified in my preview. Though they’ve stated otherwise, Finley will likely see playing time should incumbent Andy Dalton struggle. In fact, ESPN’s Todd McShay thinks that Finley can be a starter in the league and gave him a second round grade. Finley possesses the size scouts like, processes the field well and completes a high percentage of his passes. The knock on him is that he’s reluctant to fit the ball in tight windows and has only above average arm strength. At worst he’s someone that can push Dalton.
Round 4, Pick 23 (No. 125 overall): Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
Going into the draft, the Bengals needed depth at numerous positions. With their fourth round selection they drafted athletic defensive tackle Renell Wren. Wren was used predominantly as a nose tackle in college, a role he’s undersized for. Despite mixed college play he looked impressive in the Senior Bowl. As a defensive tackle in the Bengals 4-3 many predict that he’ll end up being a steal and he should join the defensive line in rotation early in his career.
Round 4, Pick 34 (No. 136 overall): Michael Jordan, OG, Ohio State
The Bengals added more offensive line help with the pick of Jordan, who’s still developing and has only just turned 21. The Buckeye product joins former teammate Billy Price at the Bengals. He has good size and blocks well in the run Jordan should be given every chance to win one of the starting guard positions but it may ultimately be too much, too soon for him. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com suggested “His size and versatility could make him a Day 2 draft pick with starting potential early in his career.”. The Bengals draft outlook would be improved greatly if this is the case.
Round 6, Pick 9 (No. 182 overall): Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M and Pick 38 (No. 211 overall): Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
The team added not one but two running backs in sixth round picks,Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson. Last season, the running game suffered when Joe Mixon wasn’t on the field. In fact the second leading rusher was Giovanni Bernard with 211 yards. Not good enough when you consider Mixon missed two games with injury. The Bengals hope the 5’8 Williams will provide the much needed depth that was lacking in 2018, especially with Mark Walton no longer on the roster. He’ll also help out on kick returns.
Meanwhile, the late round pick of Anderson gives the Bengals more depth but seems to be based on promise. Anderson missed significant time with injury but his 1,161 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017 suggest he can play at the highest level. He could outplay his draft position if he can stay healthy.
In addition the Bengals also added depth with two more draft picks:
Round 6, Pick 37 (No. 210 overall): Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn and Round 7, Pick 9 (No. 223 overall): Jordan Brown, CB, South Dakota State
Davis was a three year starter at Auburn and his solid tackling was likely one of the things that attracted the Bengals, who needed depth at linebacker. Brown is a bigger corner who will compete for a backup role in 2019.
Overall I’m impressed with the Bengals Draft class as I was last year. While Sample looks to be a reach at this junction and they missed out on some of the better linebackers, they have filled numerous holes. Jonah Williams is the standout here and could solidify their tackle position for the next decade.