The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Bengals, who according to Kiper got an ‘B’ for their collection of players over the two days.
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 compared Sam 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.
Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/21 Billy Price C OHIO STATE
2/54 Jessie Bates III S WAKE FOREST
3/77 Sam Hubbard DE OHIO STATE
3/78 Malik Jefferson OLB TEXAS
4/112 Mark Walton RB MIAMI
5/151 Davontae Harris CB ILLINOIS STATE
5/158 Andrew Brown DE VIRGINIA
5/170 Darius Phillips CB WESTERN MICHIGAN
7/249 Logan Woodside QB TOLEDO
7/252 Rod Taylor G OLE MISS
7/253 Auden Tate WR FLORIDA STATE
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