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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 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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