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Cincinnati Bengals

My thoughts on all 11 draft picks

James Rapien

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Fourth Round: Mark Walton, RB, Miami – Most fans got frustrated with the Bengals when they saw this pick. They felt like it was time for another offensive lineman – more on that in a bit.

Walton was high on their board and when he was available in the fourth round it was too good to pass up. He will contribute instantly on special teams and should also give the Bengals another option in the backfield. Joe Mixon looks the part and will probably have a breakout season in 2018.

Giovani Bernard is a stud and a fan favorite, but what if either play gets injured? Now, they have a good answer to that question. Walton can catch out of the backfield and step in for Mixon or Bernard if they need him to.

Would you rather have Walton or Cedric Peerman?

Grade: B- – I like the pick and I like the player, but it would’ve been interesting to see if they could’ve moved up and got another OL. Maybe package this pick (112) with a couple fifth round picks to move up. Instead, they used all 11 picks. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to find a trade partner. After watching Walton, it’s clear he has the talent to be useful as a rookie. 

Fifth Round: Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State – The Bengals like drafting versatile players and Harris has the potential to be exactly that. He played outside corner in college, but they may consider moving him to safety.

He had 27 passes defensed in his final two seasons at Illinois State. He was first-team all conference and a 2nd-team FCS All-American. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash. He will have to battle to make the 53-man roster.

Grade: C- – It’s hard to sell me and most people on this pick with Oregon guard Tyrell Crosby still on the board. The Bengals love cornerbacks and didn’t feel like Crosby was worth the pick. It’ll be interesting to see how both do in the NFL.

Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia – Brown is a solid value pick here. An NFC scout told NFL.com that Brown has “great football character and he goes hard all the time.

I think he has a chance to be a good pro because he’ll play inside full time and he’s got some quickness to beat guards.” I’ve seen multiple draft analysts say analysts say Brown was a “steal” at this point in the draft.

Grade: B – The most interesting thing about this pick is what it means for players like Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow? Brown is athletic and has ability. If it translates right away, he could get some playing time.

Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan – This is my favorite pick of day three. Phillips is electric with the ball in his hands and should make the team because of his return ability.

He was a great at it in college, returning 130 kicks for 3,193 yards and five touchdowns (24.6 average per return). He also returned 32 punts for 327 yards and one touchdown. This pick could rule out any chance of Adam Jones getting signed by the club. Phillips had 12 interceptions, returning five for touchdowns during his collegiate career.

He isn’t a freak athlete or a BIG name, but he has a nose for the ball, makes plays and the numbers back it up.

Grade: A – One way to improve on offense is to get more explosive in the return game. I’d expect Phillips to push for a starting role right away. Phillips vs Alex Erickson in camp would be fun. The Bengals potentially landed a day one starter at the end of the fifth round. It’s impossible to hate his pick. Watch some of his highlights here

 Sixth Round: None

Seventh Round: Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo – I knew Woodside was on their radar. This is a solid pick in the seventh round. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, he’s not the tallest player, but he was productive in college and could end up being a solid backup in the NFL.

When the Bengals took Woodside, the announcers brought up J.T. Barrett. He is better than Barrett. Woodside completed over 65 percent of his passes at Toledo and averaged nine yards-per-completion.

Grade: B+ – Woodside was the one day three quarterback I had interest in. He is accurate enough to succeed in the NFL. Does he have a strong enough arm? That remains to be seen. They add a quarterback, but it still leaves the door open to taking one early next season if they don’t like what they’ve seen from Woodside.

Rod Taylor, OL, Mississippi – The Bengals finally add another offensive lineman, but it’s likely a player destined for the practice squad. The Bengals believe he could play both guard and tackle, but he’s probably nothing more than a camp body.

Grade: C – This isn’t Taylor’s fault, but I wish the Bengals would’ve been able to unload a few of these later picks to move up at some point in the draft or add a pick or two next year. You’re pretty much adding camp bodies/practice squad hopefuls in round seven.

Auden Tate, WR, Florida State – Tate is tall, long, heavy and slow. I wonder if he will show enough to make the practice squad? The Bengals view him as a wide receiver. Could he hit it out of the park and compete with Cody Core for a roster spot?

It’s hard for me to imagine, but stranger things have happened. I do like the idea of a BIG wide receiver giving Dalton more of a window to throw the ball to.

Grade: B – When you have three seventh round picks you’re going to take a flier on a few players that don’t project well. Tate is one of those guys. Can he prove the league wrong? He certainly thinks so:

Final thoughts: I like what the Bengals did overall. I think their first five picks will contribute right away and they added plenty of NFL-ready talent to a defense that needed it.

That being said, I wonder if they’ll regret not taking Mason Rudolph in round three? The Bengals reportedly liked him and he almost fell to them, but Pittsburgh traded up and selected him right before the Bengals were on the clock.

This team is putting a lot of faith in new offensive line coach Frank Pollack. I buy into the ‘Alex Redmond or Christian Westerman can start at right guard’ narrative.

Heck, I think Trey Hopkins should be in that mix too. Can Pollack take the right tackle position and get it to where it needs to be? Jake Fisher and Bobby Hart will likely battle for the starting job.

The Bengals could’ve drafted Connor Williams from Texas with pick No. 46. Instead, they traded down eight spots to move up in round three.

They still got their favorite safety, but they could’ve solidified the offensive line with another quality player. I think it’s clear the Bengals were drafting players that are ready to contribute in multiple ways in 2018.

Final Grade: B – The Bengals improved in a lot of spots and added depth on defense. This team should get three-four starters from this draft when it’s all said and done.

I’m bummed they didn’t add another quality lineman, but I get why they didn’t reach.

James covers the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds for ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW in Cincinnati. He hosts shows on both stations, including Cincy 3:60 from 12pm-1pm daily on ESPN 1530. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Feel free to email him your ideas, fantasy football questions and hot takes.

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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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