Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Draft Grade

Fist, maybe you should call me "The Draft Guru." Yep, I predicted correctly that the Bengals would pick Darqueze Dennard. (CB, Michigan State) I thought that other teams would find other cornerbacks more attractive as better athletes thereby letting Dennard fall to the Bengals at the twenty fourth pick. But what about the rest of the Bengals draft?

Here's the list.

1. Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
2. Jeremy Hill (RB, LSU)
3. Will Clarke (DE, WVU)
4. Russell Bodine (C, North Carolina)
5. A.J. McCarron (QB, Alabama)
6. Marquis Flowers (OLB, Arizona)
7. James Wright (WR, LSU)
7. Lavelle Westbrooks (CB, Georgia Southern)

First let's talk about the Bengals trading up to get Russell Bodine. The Bengals traded with the Seattle Seahawks by giving up their fourth round and an extra sixth round pick so no big loss here. I've said the Bengals need to address the center situation. And Bodine does that. He's mean and strong but not fast or agile. He may not need the last two. He can also play center.

But the big elephant in the room is the second round pick of Jeremy Hill. If the Bengals wanted a bruising back, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde was there. So what's the problem with Hill? Character. A trait that doesn't matter with the Bengals According to Lindy's Sports Pro Football Draft (pg. 22) , Hill has a conviction for sex with a minor from 2010. (2011) Then while on probation for that offense he committed an assault in 2013. If you're a Bengals fan, the story of Stanley Wilson should come to mind. Wilson was found high from cocaine the night before Super Bowl XXIII and left off the team. Oh, then there's WR Chris Henry who had a ton of talent but his personal demons led to his death. Character matters to me. Off field problems are embarrassing to the city, set a bad example for kids and can lead a player to not contribute to the team due to suspensions.

What about Hill's talent? Well at LSU, he played behind a good run blocking line. Look at the tape, some of those holes he ran through, you could drive a truck through. On the upside, he's big and fast. Will break arm tacles. Let's hope he'll run through defenses. It would help if Hill would come out and address the character issue with the Cincinnati media. Second, I hope he says this. "When I run with the ball, I will do so feeling the pain of the Bengals fans. I will try to outrun and over all that pain."

Of other interest is A.J. McCarron. Yes, he's led Alabama to two national titles. He's a Heisman Trophy runner-up for 2013. But there are reasons why so many teams passed up on him. Not a big time arm. Worry about the fatigue of his throwing arm. At times, he floats the ball. Don't expect him to replace Bengals QB Andy Dalton. McCarron may not even make the team.

So, what's the grade for the 2014 Bengals draft? The Bengals are taking a big gamble with Hill. He's high risk, high reward. Still, they addressed every need. For the most part, the Bengals let the draft come to them. There were no major trade ups, mortgaging the future. The grade is B.

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