Tuesday, May 5, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Cincinnati Bengals

A common trend among some of the worse teams in the league were injuries to key players. It happened to the Rams, Seahawks, and Browns. The Bengals were not immune, either. Cincinnati lost Carson Palmer for most of the year due to elbow issues and the offense clearly struggled. Since winning 11 games in 2005 the Bengals have won just 19 games over the last three seasons.

The Bengals were horrid on offense. As in, the WORST team in The League. Numbers don't lie. Cincinnati was 32nd in points scored and total yards per game, 30th in passing yards per game, and 29th in rushing yards per game. So basically the defense didn't even have a chance. Giving up 13 points was the kiss of death. The defense was statistically average. They were 19th in points allowed, 12th in total yards allowed, 15th in passing yards allowed, and 21st in rushing yards allowed. A healthy Carson Palmer, improved line, and another player or two on defense could turn this team around much like the Ravens last season.

The Bengals, despite winning only four games, are giving Marvin Lewis another chance. And they are the first team examined not to axe their coach. However, that may not be a good thing. Lewis' track record with the draft is less than stellar. Much less. Will that change in '09?

1/6/6 - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
2/6/38 - Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC
3/6/70 - Michael Johnson, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
3/34/98 - Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
4/6/106 - Jonathan Luigs, OC, Arkansas
5/6/142 - Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati
6/6/179 - Morgan Trent, CB, Michigan
6/36/209 - Bernard Scott, RB, Abilene Christian

7/6/215 - Fui Vakapuna, RB, BYU
7/40/249 - Clinton McDonald, DE, Memphis
7/43/252 - Freddie Brown, WR, Utah

  • DL - Check!
  • OL - Check!
  • RB - Check!
  • S - Try again.
The Bengals made no moves prior to or during the draft. They used every one of their original seven picks plus the four compensatory selections (which cannot be traded). Cincinnati had to address some key positions in order to become competitive again in the AFC North. They needed some pass rushers at DE, run stuffers at LB, and protection for their RBs (also needed) and prize QB. They got all of those, sometimes twice over. They were unable to land some deep secondary help though.

GRADE: 90/100

Pick 1 - I was not a fan of Andre Smith. While he may possess insane talent at a high need position, his character concerns were a big red flag to me. If he stays motivated he could become a franchise-solidifying LT. If he loses focus, he'll be an instant bust. I would have gone Oher over Smith. Grade: 8

Pick 2 - Another player with supposed character concerns, though most of his problems are in the past where as Smith's were more recent. Maualuga did not deserve to drop this far based on talent alone and Cincinnati made the right move grabbing him here. Pairing him with '08 first round pick, and former USC teammate, Keith Rivers should do wonders for that defense. This pick is definitely better than the first. Grade: 10

Pick 3 - Wow, Cincinnati really doesn't care much about some flaws. Johnson was another player in the Smith mold, one that doesn't always give 100% and can be considered lazy. But he has massive potential and coul wreck havoc on opposing tackles a la Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney. Score another for Who Dey. Grade: 9

Pick 4 - Chase Coffman was one part of the deep TE class of 2009. The Bengals haven't had a real threat at TE in years. Coffman will compete right away with veterans Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht for playing time. Another solid selection. Grade: 8

Pick 5 - Jonathan Luigs was somewhat of a forgotten center prospect in a deep class. He was generally rated 4th or 5th behind the likes of Alex Mack, Eric Wood, Max Unger, and occasionally A.Q. Shipley or Antoine Caldwell. However Luigs has the nasty streak and lower body strength that will make him excel at the next level. After losing their starting center in free agency, Luigs will have a chance to start from day one. Getting him round four was great. Grade: 9

Pick 6 - I'd never take a specialist in the draft just because their value to a team has nothing to do with their draft position. Many of the great kickers and punters were undrafted or converted soccer stars. Having said that, the selection of Huber doesn't warrant that low of a score. He was arguably the best punter available and is a local product. The Bengals punting job is unsettled plus they had 11 picks! It may have been more fruitful to trade a few to move up but that's just picking nits. Grade: 6

Pick 7 - While the Bengals weren't awful in pass defense, that was skewed a little because teams just ran all over them meaning less passing attempts therefore less yards allowed. Grabbing a late round CB, while needed, just isn't enough. Plus they needed a safety not a CB. Trent was a late round prospect so they won't be penalized for that. This is an average pick; not great but not awful either. Grade: 5

Pick 8 - With the last pick in round 6 the Bengals selected little known RB Bernard Scott. Scott was not expected to be drafted but went in round six. Someone like Rashad Jennings, who was believed to be a 3rd round prospect, would have been better. They needed RB depth but I'm not sure Scott (or the next pick) will add much competition for Cedric Benson and Kenny Watson. Maybe for DeDe Dorsey. Grade: 4

Pick 9 - Who? Fui Vakapuna was not even ranked by scouting services. And he was taken before Rashad Jennings?!?!? Come on Bengals, don't ruin a great draft. Grade: 2

Pick 10 - McDonald is more or less a training camp body but if he shows some flashes. He'll be fighting Chris Harrington and Jonathan Fanene for probably the last DE spot, if they carry six players at the position. If not he'll be on the practice squad for a year. He can also play DT but the Bengals have a lot of depth there as well. Grade: 5

Pick 11 - Their last pick, finally! Is Freddie Brown the next T.J Houshmandzadeh? He could be. He has the size (6-3, 215) to be a feature guy down the road but would need a ton of refinement in route running and proper technique. Plus, for his size, he's rather weak. A body fore training camp and a prime candidate for the practice squad. Without Brown included, the Bengals have 11 WRs. Grade: 5

GRADE: 71/110


The Bengals burst out of the gates with five straight great picks that add great depth and potential starters. After that they kind of faded and, based on their picks, were just grabbing straws. If they would have paid attention and went after some prime names that slipped in rounds six and seven this could have been the best class of 2009. We can't call that until the end of this month when all my grades are in.


WHY: Despite their falling off with the last few picks, you can't argue that the first five will provide immediate upgrades. Smith and Luigs will start from day one, as will Maualuga, and Johnson and Coffman will be rotational players and, most likely, starters by 2010. That is a great draft, one the builds championships.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Maualuga
Worst Pick: Vakapuna
Sleeper: Luigs
Instant Impact: Maualuga
Developmental: Brown

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Cincinnati Bengals
CBS Sports (Prisco): B+
CBS Sports (Rang): A
ESPN (Kiper): B
NFL.com (Brooks): A-
NFL.com (Fan's): B
Walter: B



No comments: