With the 2017 NFL Draft in the books, it’s time to evaluate how all 32 teams performed in terms of upgrading their rosters. Here, the Cincinnati Bengals are the focus. Cincy was fairly busy throughout the draft’s three days. They added 11 players total, including three in the fourth round and two apiece in rounds five and six.
The entirety of the Bengals draft haul can be seen below.
First Round, ninth overall: John Ross, wide receiver, Washington
Second Round, 48th overall: Joe Mixon, running back, Oklahoma
Third Round, 73rd overall: Jordan Willis, defensive end, Kansas State
Fourth Round, 116th overall: Carl Lawson, defensive end, Auburn
Fourth Round, 128th overall: Josh Malone, wide receiver, Tennessee
Fourth Round, 138th overall: Ryan Glasgow, defensive tackle, Michigan
Fifth Round, 153rd overall: Jake Elliott, kicker, Memphis
Fifth Round, 176th overall: J.J. Dielman, center, Utah
Sixth Round, 193rd overall: Jordan Evans, linebacker, Oklahoma
Sixth Round, 2017th overall: Brandon Wilson, running back/defensive back, Houston
Seventh Round, 251st overall: Mason Schreck, tight end, Buffalo
Bengals 2017 Draft Grade: 8/10
Cincinnati Bengals 2017 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Joe Mixon
If you judge him based on nothing but his performance on the field, Joe Mixon may be the best rookie running back in the NFL draft. Mixon is an all-purpose back who averaged 6.8 yards per carry last season and caught 37 passes for 538 yards receiving. Mixon is both a strong, physical runner and one who can make defenders miss. There is always a chance for a big play with the ball in his hands, and 11.9 percent of his carries went for gains of 15 yards or more last season.
The Head-Scratcher: Joe Mixon
Adding Joe Mixon to a team that already has a bad reputation is a bit surprising. The Bengals are a team that believes in giving people second chances and has had luck in these cases in the past. Violence against women is obviously a very important issue and the Bengals will need to do some work to make it clear that they do not condone Mixon’s actions.
The Surprise: Jake Elliott
While it was not surprising to see the Bengals draft a kicker, drafting Jake Elliott in the fifth round was a bit of a surprise. Elliott is generally regarded as the second ranked kicker in this draft class, and the consensus number one Zane Gonzalez was still available. Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons must see something in Elliott, who will get a chance to earn the starting position in camp.
The Steal: Carl Lawson
Carl Lawson may be among the top pass rushers in the draft, but presumably due to injury concerns the Bengals managed to acquire him in the fourth round. Lawson is coming off a healthy 2016 season where he had nine sacks. He missed much of the previous two seasons with an ACL tear and a hip injury. Lawson could make a huge impact for the Bengals in a position where they sorely need it.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp
It is a bit of a toss-up. Our first contender is defensive end Jordan Willis. Willis put up impressive numbers at the combine and plays with great tenacity and hustle. His athleticism will turn heads, but he will need to better develop his pass rush repertoire. Speaking of impressive combine results, wide receiver John Ross increased his notoriety in Indianapolis running a NFL combine record 4.22 40-yard dash. Ross however is not just a speed prospect. He runs great routes and has excellent hands. Ross could make a big impact right away for the Bengals offense. Another receiver who may catch an eye or two is Josh Malone. The 6’3” receiver ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at the combine and averaged nearly 20 yards-per-reception last season. While he may not be seen as often in 2017 as Ross, when he is on the field, watch out.
Ryan Glasgow will add depth and competition as an interior defensive lineman. He is a talented player particularly against the run. The Bengals added offensive line help as well with J.J. Dielman. Dielman can play various positions on the line, but may be a good fit for the Bengals at center where he could develop into a replacement for Russell Bodine if he is lost in free agency next year. Jordan Evans was a highly productive tackler for the Sooners’ defense and has the size and speed that are desirable for linebackers and special teams players. Tight end Mason Schreck is a skilled and versatile receiving threat who can run and break tackles after the catch.
Brandon Wilson is one of the most raw and versatile players in the draft. He showed his athletic ability in workouts with a 41 inch vertical, an 11 foot 1 inch broad jump, and a 4.36 40 yard dash. He has played cornerback, safety, running back, and kick returner and has scored touchdowns rushing, returning an interception, returning a fumble, returning a blocked field goal, returning a missed field goal, and returning a kick-off. The Bengals currently have him listed as a running back.
The Bottom Line
The Bengals did a great job attaining dynamic play-makers on offense and athletic pass rushers on defense. They acquired two players with first round talent and two with second round talent, despite only having one pick in each of those rounds. The Bengals have done little this off-season to address their offensive line which struggled last season. In order for their offense to succeed, that group will need to vastly improve in the coming months.