What football fan doesn’t love the NFL Draft? This year, even Bears fans do. (Sorry Keith, glad you got your QB though!) Sports Obsessive is going to be covering several teams and their draft performances in depth this year and on the Cincinnati Bengals beat is myself, SportsObsessive.com owner Andrew Grevas, and one half of the “25 Yards Later” podcast, Allijah Motika. Let’s get into the draft.
Round 1, Pick 5: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Andrew: I love this pick. Yes, the offensive line concerns are valid but the depth is there in later rounds. Chase is a physical WR who can run routes and will go up and fight for the ball. I hear a lot of AJ Brown comparisons but I get Julio Jones vibes here. Burrow and Chase were magic together at LSU and now, along with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, they can create magic again with one of the most dangerous 3 receiver sets in the NFL.
Allijah: I am less enthusiastic about this pick than Andrew but I definitely understand the excitement. I really wanted them to take Penei Sewell here because, well, he looks like a guy that could anchor the offensive line for a decade. But I’m not down on Chase either. He is a great wide receiver that has all the traits of a top 10 guy in the league. I loved the strategy that they took in 2011 when they paired Andy Dalton and A.J. Green and they’ve done it again. Let’s just hope Burrow has time in the pocket to get him the ball.
Round 2, Pick 46: Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Andrew: Before we get into Carman, we have to look at the trade. The Bengals moved back from 38 to 46 and picked up two fourth-round picks for it. Value-wise, I like the trade. There’s a lot of talent on the board in the fourth and the Bengals can hopefully add two difference makers. That being said, the Carman pick feels iffy to me. There’s injury concerns, there’s footwork concerns and there’s concerns with his ability to stop pro-level defensive linemen. He’s a hometown guy who does have a lot of upside but this may have been a reach. For the sake of Burrow’s ACL, let’s hope I’m wrong.
Allijah: I like the trade from a value perspective a lot. Only trading back 8 picks and getting two fourth rounders is great. But what did we do with it? I guess we will see what happens in the fourth. The Bengals have a long history of drafting upside offensive lineman with all the measurables and questionable techniques (Cedric Ogbuehi anybody?) so I hope that Carman isn’t added to that list. When they picked Chase at 5, I said if they go offensive line twice in the next three rounds I’d be happy. Carman does have a lot of starts under his belt where he was protecting an excellent quarter back and did a decent job at it. So at least there’s that.
Round 3, Pick 69: Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas
Andrew: Love, love, love this pick. Ossai was a second-round talent who fell into our laps at 69 and gives the Cincinnati Bengals some much-needed depth and fire power on the D-Line. Can’t say enough good things about this pick.
Allijah: I like the versatility that Ossai offers the Bengals quite a lot. He’s another upside guy that needs some coaching to be consistent but the tools are there. With the loss of Carl Lawson, Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap over the last year, this defensive line is in a tough spot. This pick starts to fill that gap.
Round 4, Pick 111: DE Cameron Sample, Tulane
Andrew: The Bengals defense has needed a youth overall for a while, and edge rusher was a glaring weakness headed into this draft. This was a solid pick that should help fill a much needed gap for a defense that’s being overhauled.
Allijah: We need pass rush help and here we go again. Sample is a bit of a tweener as far as defensive lineman go but he has good production and had the highest win rate of any defensive lineman at the senior bowl according to PFF so we like to see that production. It’ll probably take him a bit to be a consistent performer for the defense but he helps fill that gap we have in the trenches.
Round 4, Pick 122: DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Andrew: The Bengals stay aggressive on the re-tooling of their defense here and double down on their love of LSU prospects. Shelvin’s raw in a lot of ways and only had 1.5 sacks in 2 seasons but will definitely help clog the run. This was a depth pick and not a bad one at all.
Allijah: I like the strategy going three picks in a row on the defensive line because, as I’ve said, we need the help. This guy is massive. At 6’2” 350, he is a round mound of…run blocking. He had a tough time early in his time at LSU, but really shined during LSU’s 2019 championship run before opting out of the 2020 season. He’s young and rough around the edges but at a certain point in the trenches, size makes a lot of difference. Shelvin likely won’t be a starter for a while but he will compete, and if he stays motivated, he can become a solid situational contributor, especially against the run.
Round 4, Pick 139: OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
Andrew: Another good depth pick as the Cincinnati Bengals continue to revamp both lines. Smith was a three year starter who joins the Bengals with some injury concerns, but the talent is there.
Allijah: Well, I said if they didn’t take Sewell at #5, then they had to take two offensive lineman in the next 3 rounds and would ya look at that, they did it. I do wish they’d taken someone aside from Chase in the first 4 rounds that actually had proven consistent production on the field, but Frank Pollack will have a lot of developing to do…again. Overall, Smith is good depth at the tackle position and has the tools to grow into a starter if he’s coached up well.
Round 5, Pick 149: K Evan McPherson, Florida
Andrew: I wasn’t expecting it, but I like it. Kicker was a problematic position for the Bengals and they went out and got the best in the draft after adding depth at other problematic positions. Smart pick here that should pay off starting this season.
Allijah: Well, this was a surprise. Remember that time we drafted Jake Elliott in the 5th round in 2017 and then gave the job to Randy Bullock when he beat Elliott in a kicking competition on the final day of training camp? And then Elliott went on the practice squad and got stolen by the Eagles? Remember when he was kicking 61-yard game-winners for the Eagles that same season? Yeah, me too. McPherson seems to be a better prospect than Elliott was as the record holder for career field goal percentage in the SEC. What we need is consistency in the kicking game after the sham that has been Randy Bullock, so let’s hope we don’t botch this 5th round kicker selection this time around.
Round 6, Pick 190: C Trey Hill, Georgia
Andrew: The fact that he had to have surgery on both knees scares me quite a bit. I don’t see Hill getting much playing time with both Hopkins and Price around, but if he can stay healthy, he can provide solid depth to an improving offensive line.
Allijah: I absolutely love this pick, but here’s another lineman with some injury concerns. Trey Hill’s 2020 season was cut short after just 8 games by knee surgery on both knees. But when he’s been on the field, he’s been a force throwing around defenders and using his physicality to his advantage. I think there’s a lot of upside here, and it’s an upside I believe in as opposed to some of the earlier linemen that were selected.
Round 6, Pick 202: RB Chris Evans, Michigan
Andrew: RB was a position most people expected the Bengals to address in the draft and they do in the sixth. His 2020 stats leave a lot to be desired, but he did show promise early in his career. Not a huge fan of the pick, but I was glad to see the Bengals wait as long as they did to address the running back position. It wasn’t a top priority when compared to other positions.
Allijah: This guy is all upside without much of a body of work in college, but boy oh boy does he have all the traits. He has the size and frame to carry the load on early downs and is an impressive route runner with consistent hands. He averaged 7 yards per carry in his freshman year before being suspended for his sophomore season for academic reasons. But hey, college isn’t for everybody and this guy is a football player. As long as he can study the playbook, I think he has a spot on this roster. Obviously, he isn’t going to be anything more than a rotational player for now, but he’s another guy to compete in the running back room and fill in on pass-catching downs after they cut Gio Bernard.
Round 7, Pick 235: DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State
Andrew: Interesting to note that the Bengals addressed edge rusher in rounds three, four and seven, which are the exact same rounds they addressed the linebacker position in last year. Love the commitment to revamping the defense and Hubert put up some really solid numbers in 2020. Like this pick a lot.
Allijah: At this point in the draft, it’s all depth, upside, and competition for the back ups. Hubert actually has the most pass-rushing production of any of the 4 defensive lineman in the Bengal’s draft, but obviously, Kansas State isn’t playing the same type of competition that some of the other guys are seeing. We will see if Hubert makes the team, but I’ve been begging for them to take someone with some college production, so here he is.
Andrew: There’s a notable difference in the way the Bengals are drafting and maneuvering these days. This isn’t the same Mike Brown / Marvin Lewis show we watched for what felt like 1,429 seasons. The Cincinnati Bengals feel aggressive. We wouldn’t have made the trade we did a few years ago. This is a team that’s trying to create a new culture and you can see that with the way they’re loading up on LSU and Clemson players. You can see that with the players they’re letting walk. They’re trying to do something different.
That being said, they took a few gambles. I was happy to see the way they addressed both lines, but did they get the right guys? Only time will tell. I tend to think that Chase is going to be good enough to make people forget that there was some upset that the Bengals took him at 5, but that’s just me. I give this draft a solid B.
Allijah: 70% of our draft was in the trenches and I definitely like that commitment to improving both sides of the line. We have such a rough history of drafting upside lineman that never live up to their physical potential, so needless to say, I’m a little skeptical despite the numbers. I also expected us to draft a corner to help fill the void left by William Jackson III in what was a pretty deep corner draft but, alas, we didn’t do that either.
Overall this draft is full of players that could contribute but are going to struggle to see the field on opening day. But, let’s be honest, if Ja’Marr Chase turns out to be Julio Jones, then nobody will care if the other 9 players never play a snap. B-.