As everyone knows, the 2015 NFL Draft has come to a close, and Last Word On Sports continues its series on the 2015 NFL Draft here. Today, the Cincinnati Bengals are under the microscope.
First Round, 21st Overall – OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M)
Second Round, 53rd Overall – OT Jake Fisher (Oregon)
Third Round, 85th Overall – TE Tyler Kroft (Rutgers)
Third Round, 99th Overall (Compensatory) – LB Paul Dawson (TCU)
Fourth Round, 120th Overall – CB Josh Shaw (USC)
Fourth Round, 135th Overall (Compensatory) – DT Marcus Hardison (Arizona State)
Fifth Round, 157th Overall – TE C.J. Uzomah (Auburn)
Sixth Round, 197th Overall – FS Derron Smith (Fresno State)
Seventh Round, 238th Overall – WR/KR Mario Alford (West Virginia)
Cincinnati Bengals 2015 NFL Draft Review
Best Player: Jake Fisher
Typically the best player in a given draft is the first player selected by a team, but I do not see that in this case. Second round selection Jake Fisher has more talent and upside than first-round selection Cedric Ogbuehi. At worst, they are fairly similar prospects, but I will break the tie with the value selection in Fisher. A replacement for Andrew Whitworth will be needed soon and the Bengals attacked the offensive line early.
The Head-Scratcher: Cedric Ogbuehi
First-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi is talented, but I think his pedigree pushed him up the board a little too high and the Bengals fell into the trap. Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, who also came from Texas A&M, were far better prospects and helped Ogbuehi become a first-round selection when the consensus was that he was a third-round talent. Additionally, the Bengals did not need two offensive tackles this early, as Andrew Whitworth will still start at left tackle for at least one more year.
The Surprise Pick: Marcus Hardison
Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison was not a bad pick and his projection was fairly accurate. However, the surprise was that the Bengals neglected the defensive line until the fourth round despite the unit being a major area of need. Hardison is talented, but he is not the difference maker that the Bengals needed. He tends to get blocked too easily, hurting his chances to utilize his combination of size and speed.
The Steal: Paul Dawson
Linebacker Paul Dawson can and should be able to parlay his football acumen into a successful career, despite physical limitations. Dawson is hard to block, faster to the ball than his 40-time would suggest and great in pass coverage. He will be a three-down linebacker as a rookie and the Bengals were able to acquire him at the end of the third round.
Most Likely to Turn Heads at Training Camp: Mario Alford
Mario Alford has the ability to be a big-play threat as both a receiver and a kick returner. This combination will allow him to use his 4.43 speed and good ball skills to turn heads in training camp. I do not think he will make a large impact on offense with the return of Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert, but I would not be surprised if Alford becomes an above average return man this year.
Tyler Kroft is a tight end with good blocking skills, but he needs to become a better pass catcher. Josh Shaw is an aggressive cornerback with great size. He attacks receivers and ball carriers, but his coverage skills are relatively weak due to his less than elite speed. This limitation will likely lead to a conversion to safety at some time during his career. Tight end C.J. Uzomah is a project player who is purely a receiving option with little skills as a blocker. He is basically the exact opposite of Tyler Kroft right now. Free safety Derron Smith is flexible and can play well against both the pass and the run, but his size limitations will cause problems against large receivers and tight ends.
The Bengals draft was successful in terms of quantity, but overall the lack of quality players and failure to address areas of need is troublesome. There are no surefire immediate starters in this class, so that definitely hurts their grade. Although the Bengals already have one of the best teams in the AFC, no team should come out of a draft without at least one or two players who upgrade the starting lineup.
Overall Grade: 7/10
Check out our other draft reviews here.