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The 2018 impact meter for every Cincinnati Bengals draft pick

Russell Heltman

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That’s all she wrote.

The 2018 NFL Draft is complete, as the Cincinnati Bengals used all 11 of their draft picks to bolster a roster that has playoff aspirations after missing out on the party over the past two seasons.

It would be folly to think every pick handed into the league office will see the field for the Bengals this season but they all have a chance to make an impact one way or another.

Time to assess what kind of influence each pick could have on the gridiron this Fall.

Billy Price – C, Ohio State
Impact Meter: MASSIVE

This guy represents one of the biggest keys to Bengals success this fall. After “losing” longtime-starter Russell Bodine to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, center became the biggest area of need for this Bengals team. The only one on the roster before Thursday night was T.J. Johnson, who has started just five games since being drafted in 2013. The Bengals didn’t wait to address the hole up front, drafting Billy Price with the 21st pick in the draft.

The 2017 Rimington Award winner, Price is arguably the best center in the draft and figures to be a day-one starter once camp opens on July 26th. Price notched 55 starts between guard and center for the Buckeyes and anchored one of the best run-blocking units in college football last season.

The Ohio native figures to be a stalwart for Cincinnati similar to what Rich Braham was in the first few years of the Marvin Lewis-era. Frank Ragnow would’ve likely been the selection had he not been taken a pick earlier by Detroit, but Price is a nasty road grader who will command the huddle and play with passion each and every snap.

Jessie Bates III – S, Wake Forest
Impact Meter: MODERATE

I noted in my debut article for Locked On Bengals that Cincinnati was in need of playmakers in the back end of the defense and they added one with their lone pick in the second round.

Bates is very similar to the guy they brought in for a visit earlier in the month, Eric Reid, but with even better ball skills. He is hard-nosed and likes to play a little closer to the line of scrimmage in anticipation of closing out quicker on ball carriers. The Wake Forest product should be a welcome addition to a Teryl Austin-unit that wants to implement more three-safety looks. Bates can play close to the line or drop back in coverage where he had six interceptions and 10 passes defended during his time as a Demon Deacon. He represents a welcome addition to a defense that ranked 31st in turnovers forced last season.

Expect Bates to be in some limited packages during his first year with the Bengals but don’t be surprised if he lights a few guys up on kick returns, he will be an immediate special teams contributor.

Sam Hubbard – DE, Ohio State
Impact Meter: MODERATE

Part of a rookie trio headed from the Buckeyes to the Bengals, Hubbard was a fantastic value pick at #77 overall. The former Buckeye tore up Big Ten offensive tackles. Across three seasons at Ohio State, Hubbard totaled 17 sacks and 30 tackles for loss.

Hubbard provides depth to a strong but uninsured defensive end group. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson should be the week one starters but they are entering the final year of their contracts and we’ve all seen how underwhelming Johnson has been during his second stint in Cincinnati. Hubbard is a little undersized to be a full-time defensive end in Teryl Austin’s 4-3 system but I expect him to bulk up over time and carve out a larger role in the process.

We won’t have to worry about his excitement to play for Cincinnati, Hubbard grew up in the tri-state area and was a diehard Bengals fan growing up and now gets to suit up for his dream franchise. Don’t be shocked if Hubbard or sophomore Jordan Willis supplants Johnson as the starter at some point this season.

Malik Jefferson – LB, Texas
Impact Meter: MODERATE/MASSIVE

Speed.

That has been the weakest aspect of the Bengals linebacking corps over the past few seasons and they addressed that with Jefferson.

The Texas product ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL combine (3rd among linebackers) and was unleashed when Texas altered their defense last season.  Jefferson tallied 110 tackles in 2017 including 10 for loss and four sacks.

Checking in at 6’3″ and 235 pounds, Jefferson has the prototypical size and speed to be a dominant linebacker in today’s NFL but he often plays with a recklessness that can cost a defense dearly.

If linebackers coach Jim Haslett can coach him up and reign him in just a bit, Jefferson could end up being a perfect partner for Vontaze Burfict when he returns from his four-game suspension.

Expect him to see substantial playing time while Burfict is on the shelf.

Mark Walton – RB, Miami
Impact Meter: MINIMAL

A lot of Bengals faithful threw up their hands in disgust when this pick came across the ticker but I expect them to eat their words more than once over the next few years.

Walton is one of the shiftiest home run-hitters in this draft and the value was just too good to pass up in the fourth round. Before an ankle injury cut his final season in Miami seven games short, Walton was putting together a monster season for the Hurricanes on the ground, rushing for 428 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 7.6 yards per carry.

Walton can make just about any human on the planet miss in the open field and he provides depth to a running back committee that saw Jeremy Hill and Cedric Peerman depart this season.

Walton likely won’t see many carries in 2018 but Gio Bernard only has two years left on his deal and Walton can be a day-one contributor on special teams.

Davontae Harris – CB, Illinois State
Impact Meter: MINIMAL

The only FCS player drafted by the Bengals, Davontae Harris was brought in to offer depth on the outside of the defense. Harris has some issues with ball tracking and coverage technique but he had impressive measurables at the combine including a 4.43 40-yard dash and 22 reps on the bench press.

Adam Jones remains unsigned, while Josh Shaw and Darqueze Dennard are both entering contract years so the Bengals needed to add another promising player to the cornerback room.

Expect the FCS All-American to see limited snaps in relief of Dennard in the slot but he will likely notch the most looks on the special teams unit.

Andrew Brown – DT, Virginia
Impact Meter: MODERATE/MASSIVE

In my eyes, Andrew Brown is the only late-round pick that has a chance to be a consistent starter for the Bengals this season. Cincinnati really needed to address this position with All-Pro talent Geno Atkins set to hit free agency next year, and let’s be honest, Andrew Billings has not impressed alongside him.

Billings ranked 119th among defensive tackles last season according to Pro Football Focus and Ryan Glasgow outperformed him throughout his rookie campaign.

Brown played defensive end at Virginia and has the long arms that often cause headaches for opposing guards. After accumulating 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks over 34 games, Brown brings an aggressive nature to the interior line that mirrors his All-Pro partner.

I don’t expect Brown to be the week one starter alongside Geno Atkins, but he has a great chance to take control of that role if he can bring the same mentality he showed at Virginia into Paul Brown Stadium.

Darius Phillips – CB, Western Michigan
Impact Meter: MODERATE/MASSIVE

I hope Adam Jones wasn’t anticipating a return to Cincinnati this Fall because the Bengals crushed that storyline with their final pick of the fifth round.

Darius Phillips represents another chance to bolster the cornerback depth but the biggest reason a massive impact is possible lies in his game-breaking return skills.

Phillips holds the FBS-record for return touchdowns and has shown the ability to ring up big plays every time he gets ahold of the football.

The Detroit native had a return touchdown in all four years at WMU and 12 interceptions in three full seasons at corner.I noted earlier how desperate the Bengals are for playmakers in the secondary and Phillips should be able to contribute day one as a slot corner.

Dennard will still see the majority of the snaps inside but Phillips can immediately step in as the Bengals #1 return man. A fifth-straight season with a return touchdown will make Phillips a household name among Bengals fans.

Logan Woodside – QB, Toledo
Impact Meter: MINIMAL/MODERATE

This is one of my favorite value picks of the entire draft.
Woodside is a savvy, pinpoint passer who I had a chance to see first hand when he went up against the Ohio Bobcats last season.

His production dropped off a bit in his senior campaign but Woodside has always taken pretty good care of the football (93 career TD, 25 INT) and he completed 65.1 percent of his passes during his career on an astounding 9.1 yards per attempt.

Woodside can make almost every throw in the book and despite having an average arm he was still one of the most prolific deep ball throwers in the nation last season.

The Bengals were not looking to start the season with Matt Barkley as their only insurance behind Andy Dalton. I expect Woodside to win the backup role and be ready fill in for Dalton should anything happen to the Red Rifle.

Rod Taylor – OG, Ole Miss
Impact Meter: MINIMAL

Rod Taylor was the second and final offensive lineman taken by the Bengals, much to the surprise of people outside the franchise. It makes sense though, offensive line was clearly not the strength of this draft and there is no need to reach for something that isn’t there.

With that being said, I think Taylor has a solid shot to make the final roster cut because he can play tackle or guard and represents a nice little project for Frank Pollack and the rest of his staff.

Don’t expect Taylor to become the next Anthony Muñoz, but a solid back up role doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility.

Auden Tate – WR, Florida State
Impact Meter: MINIMAL

The Bengals last selection in the 2018 NFL Draft brings some serious upside to a crowded wide receivers room and represents another great value pick in the final ten selections.

Auden Tate notched 40 catches for 548 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Seminoles last season and checked into the combine at 6’5″ and 228 pounds.

If Tate can stand out amongst the other three wide receivers fighting for a roster spot he will be a huge red-zone target for Andy Dalton and represent another weapon for a Bengals offense that is shaping up to be loaded when the 2018 season kicks off.

A Cincinnati sports fan since before he could walk, Russ grew up in Anderson Township and currently attends Ohio University where he is pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Aside from cheering on all of the lovable losers in Cincinnati, Russ is an avid golfer and diehard Charlotte Hornets fan. When he's not breaking down the Bengals on 97 WATH you can find his analysis and thoughts on everything Orange and Black right here.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Not Another Bengals, Chiefs Preview

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Week seven of the NFL regular season is upon us and the Cincinnati Bengals have a golden opportunity this Sunday on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Guessing that’s not where your mind went when you thought of this game?

The Basics

The Bengals and Chiefs have squared off 28 times, over the years, with the Bengals holding a slight 15-13 advantage. Cincinnati holds a four-game winning streak over Kansas City with the last loss coming at Arrowhead in 2007. Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against the Chiefs and 2-2 at Arrowhead. The Lewis-led Bengals have outscored the Chiefs 167 to 136, in their eight meetings.

The last game between these two teams was in week four of the 2015 season. The Bengals won in Paul Brown Stadium 36-21 with four of the touchdowns coming from running plays. Three TDs were scored by Jeremy Hill and the other came from Giovanni Bernard. The lone TD pass was a 55-yarder to Brandon Tate from Andy Dalton.

The Offense

This is a marvelous chance for Andy and the offense to get back on track. They managed just nine total yards in the third quarter against the Steelers, but will be facing a very pedestrian defensive squad, this coming Sunday night. In two games career games against the Chiefs, Dalton has completed 66% of his passes for 551 yards and three scores. He will face a Chiefs defense that ranks stone cold last in pass defense, allowing 340 yards per game, through the air.

Joe Mixon will be happy, though, as the Chiefs also allow an average of 127 rushing yards, per game. In fact, the Bengals offense, as a whole, should feast on Sunday. They’re averaging 29 points per game and the Chiefs allow 28.7 per game.

The Defense

They’re banged up, and they’re outgunned in this matchup. Statistically, Cincinnati’s defense has fared only slightly better than Kansas City’s. The Bengals are allowing just over 400 total yards, a game, and 26 points per game. Couple that with the high-flying offense of Patrick Mahomes, who averages 418 total yards and 35 points per game, and I’d say you should bet the over, whatever Vegas has it set as.

Nick Vigil and Darqueze Dennard have been ruled out and Shawn Williams is listed as questionable. Given that eight different defensive starters came off the field last Sunday, at different points in the game, and this coming game may be crazy, simply from a health standpoint.

The Skinny

This matchup has a real chance at being a playoff preview as well as a carbon copy of the Falcons game, a few weeks back. The Chiefs will be in a battle with the Chargers, all season, for the AFC West and the Bengals, though on top for the moment, have no room for comfort with the Ravens and Steelers knocking on the door. Whoever has the ball last in this pivotal game could very well end up the winner.

I’d expect to see a lot of William Jackson and Tyreek Hill matchups. Some have said Hill is the best receiver, in the game, this year so Jackson will need to be on his toes for all 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Kansas City receiving threat 1-B, Travis Kelce, will probably be Teryl Austin’s biggest headache. The Bengals, no matter the personnel or the coaching staff, have always struggled to cover the opposing tight end. Enter, arguably, the best tight end in the NFL with his 468 receiving yards and three TDs. I’m no expert fantasy football predictor, but I’d bet he is a top scorer, this week. And I haven’t even mentioned the Chiefs’ stud running back, Kareem Hunt. Dude is a threat to run all over the place (456 yds, 4th in NFL) and be a pain to the Bengals pass defense (17 yards per catch). Pray for Austin and the Bengals defense.

Bringing it Home

That being said, this is a winnable game for the Bengals. They have the firepower to hang with Kansas City. If you jumped off the wagon after the loss to the Steelers and think the Bengals are going to get absolutely crushed by the Chiefs, you won’t agree with me, so whatevs, but this game isn’t that big of a mismatch. John Ross will be on the field for Cincinnati, giving them their bonafide deep threat to contend with the Chiefs’ big play abilities. AJ Green has nobody to worry about on the Chiefs defense, and will be able to roam free, looking for holes in the coverage. Which just means Tyler Boyd will be able to give as much of his safety blanket-ness to Andy as he can. Should the line have a rough day protecting the pocket, Dalton will have plenty of chances to scramble and make something happen while extending the play. One of these two teams will begin the game hot only to try to slow it down with the rushing game, but I believe both defenses will be porous enough to allow some highlight reel plays deep. This is going to be an entertaining game to watch, if your pacemaker doesn’t give out in the first half. Call me crazy, call me a homer (whatevs, I’m no professional), but I say the Bengals win.

Prediction: Bengals 42, Chiefs 38

Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals for more Orange and Black content on Twitter

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Cincinnati Bengals

WATCH: Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs

James Rapien

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Former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs on Sunday night football. He also thinks Andy Dalton’s struggles in primetime games are just a ‘coincidence.’ He was a guest on ‘The Herd’ on Fox Sports One. Watch the video below.

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Cincinnati Bengals

‘Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be’

James Rapien

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Vontaze Burfict has been talked about a lot this week. Not for his dominant play, but for a questionable hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.

This isn’t new for Burfict. His play has been discussed for years. He’s been fined or suspended 11 times in his career, which has cost him over $1 million in salary.

Some people believe Burfict should be suspended for the rest of the season. Others think he should be out of the NFL forever. There’s no denying that he’s earned his reputation.

Burfict doesn’t like how he’s viewed in the media. If he wants to change it, he can start by playing like an elite linebacker against Kansas City. He doesn’t look like the player he once was. It’s probably because he’s missed so much time over the past few years. Burfict has appeared in 11 games or fewer in his last four seasons due to suspensions and injuries. He hasn’t forced a turnover since 2016, which is the last time he was playing at an elite level.

That leads me to a question that has been asked a lot this week: Is Burfict worth the headache? His teammates certainly think so.

“Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be,” Carlos Dunlap said earlier this week. “And as you’ve seen up to this level he’s played as one of the best linebackers in the league. And I feel like he has the potential to be even better.”

Sunday is an opportunity for Burfict to put on a show. It’s a chance for him to remind people that he is one of the best linebackers in the league. If he goes out there, dominates and does it without any questionable hits, then the entire country will see why the Bengals signed him to two contract extensions. Leading a struggling defense into Kansas City and getting a win would be huge for how people view him. Fans and media could discuss his stellar play, instead of a late-hit or a PED suspension.

He needs to remind people, including fans, that he can be a great player. Burfict just turned 28-years-old. He signed a contract extension with the Bengals last season. There has been plenty of chatter about Burfict this week, but that isn’t bothering rookie safety Jessie Bates.

“He’s so smart and he makes things easier for me communication wise,” Bates said on Wednesday. “Obviously he’s been doing this for a long time. He plays very violent and some people don’t like that. I’m glad that he’s on our team.”

It’s hard to envision Burfict changing at this point, but he can use Sunday to his advantage. He can show a national television audience that he’s able to play the game at a high level and do so without getting fined, flagged or suspended for questionable play.

Once upon a time Burfict was an undrafted free agent who impressed coaches with his knowledge of the game. Fast forward to present day and he’s a ‘dirty player’ who should be suspended or worse. Burfict has a chance to remind everyone of how good he can be. Whether or not he takes advantage of it is up to him.

For more, listen to the latest Locked on Bengals podcast below.

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