— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 13, 2018
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.
Mark Walton reminds @PFF_Steve of Dion Lewis. His big plays in 2017 are just sick. Has an incredible lateral cut that just breaks contain angles
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 28, 2018
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.
The Bengals add a playmaker to their secondary in Western Michigan CB Darius Phillips, the 85th ranked player on our big board pic.twitter.com/yYCdajZIVt
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 28, 2018
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.
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 28, 2018
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.
Rod Taylor: thick build with long arms. Tested decently. Played RT but looks like a guard.
Looks like he doesn't care. Bad hands. Looks like a worse athlete than testing says. Stiff. He won't make the team as a rookie.
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) April 28, 2018
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:
I promise every team that picked past me because my “Shoulder Issue” gotta feel me in the future‼️ Believe That☝??
— Auden Tate (@lil_t8te) April 28, 2018
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 28, 2018
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.
Gerald McCoy in stripes makes plenty of sense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved on from star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy earlier this week after failing to find a suitable trade partner for his $13 million salary and the Cincinnati Bengals have taken notice.
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) May 22, 2019
As for Gerald McCoy and the Bengals — @diannaESPN was first on Marvin's departure, Burfict's release, and then Webb and Dennard's signings.
— JG (@JoeGoodberry) May 22, 2019
Russini is clearly qualified and plugged in when it comes to breaking Bengals related news and this seems like a step in the right direction for fans who want this “New Dey” for the Bengals to start going after top tier talent with minimal long term risk. It’s clear that no team around the league wanted to give up draft picks while taking on McCoy at such a high cap number.
The Bengals should roll the dice here and take a calculated chance on a guy like McCoy who could turn this entire defense into the group most Bengals fans had high expectations for last season but ultimately finished as a bottom-three unit. McCoy and Geno Atkins would make up arguably the best interior line combination in the league. One that would rival the duo of Ndamokung Suh and Aaron Donald that the Rams rode to the Super Bowl.
After missing the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2012 last season, McCoy still notched six sacks and more importantly a team-high 21 pressures for the Buccaneers. Over his highly productive career, the former Oklahoma Sooner has tallied 393 pressures, good for sixth among interior linemen since 2010. McCoy is a stud who was the best defensive player on his team and a wrecker who has never been surrounded by much talent in the trenches.
Despite a rough year across the board for this Bengals defense, Atkins clearly showed he is still at the top of his game after tallying double-digit sacks for the first time since 2010 and creating 64 pressures, which ranked fourth among all interior linemen. Joe and Jake brought up a great point on Wednesday’s podcast, McCoy would be the best inside partner that Atkins has ever played with and would not only help open up more playmaking opportunities for him but also spell players across the line more rest after it was ravaged by injury in 2018.
The Bengals have roughly $23 million in cap room as we head into the summer months and despite a clear goal of extending Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, signing McCoy to a one or two year deal worth $10-12 million annually is more than doable. Green already accounts for $15 million against the cap this year and most estimates have his new deal reaching around $18 million per year, while Boyd has gone on record this week with expectations of a deal similar to Sterling Shepard’s four year/$41 million contract.
That leaves Cincinnati with just enough room to sign McCoy to a deal he’d be happy with.
The bottom line is players like this don’t come around very often, and during the Marvin Lewis Era, they were almost never targeted by the front office. McCoy could turn this swiss cheese-defense into a formidable force overnight while helping Bengals fans see the light of a New Dey at Paul Brown Stadium.
The AFC North Power Vacuum
The AB shoe has dropped.
After a drama-filled start to the offseason, Antonio Brown got his wish: A new home and contract in the Bay Area. The Pittsburgh Steelers shipped their disgruntled star to the Oakland Raiders for a pair of third and sixth round picks in this year’s draft.
The Killer-B Era in the Steel City is over.
Le’veon Bell called the organizations bluff last year and sat the entire season after he was offered $14.5 million on another franchise tag. That decision left the Steelers with the fifth most unused cap space in the NFL last season and now the loss of Brown hamstrings them even more. The Steelers must now eat $21 million in dead cap money with Brown in the Silver and Black, ostensibly the largest hit of its kind in league history.
Sweet, sweet music for the rest of the AFC North.
While Pittsburgh holds on to a fading era the other three teams in the division have kickstarted themselves with new coaches, quarterbacks, and in the Cleveland Browns case, both.
Baker Mayfield‘s talents are now fully paired with Freddie Kitchens, the duo led Cleveland to a 5-2 record down the stretch and has injected a breadth of confidence the franchise hasn’t felt since returning to the shores of Lake Erie in 1999. The Lamar Jackson Era is in full swing after the Baltimore Ravens shipped Joe Flacco to Denver for a fourth-round pick. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker but struggled as a passer in year one, despite aerial issues the former Heisman winner notched six wins in seven starts with a 27-24 loss to Kansas City mixed in.
In Cincinnati all of the eggs now lie in the Zac Taylor basket, The entire coaching staff has been overhauled outside of special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons and after 16 seasons of Marvin Lewis, there is tepid optimism surrounding this young coaching staff.
For the first time since Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season, the Steelers don’t seem like the go-to favorite to win the AFC North and stomp on another Marvin Lewis team. Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan are bringing fresh eyes and concepts to this roster and ideally Bengals fans will experience the 2018 LA Rams Offense: Midwest Edition when they roll into Paul Brown Stadium this Fall.
On the defensive side things can’t get much worse than last season with new coordinator Lou Anarumo taking the reins of a unit that ranked 32nd in total defense (413.6 yards allowed per game), 32nd against the pass (275.9 per game), 30th in points allowed (28.4 per game) and 29th against the run (137.8 yards per game).
Meanwhile, many of the draft experts have the Bengals selecting do-it-all LSU linebacker Devin White with the 11th pick. A massive value at that spot, White is as durable a player you’ll find at the linebacker position and is graded by Scouts Inc. as the fourth best prospect available in April. He would be a welcome addition to a defense that was the worst in the NFL defending tight ends last season.
A New Dey has arrived not only in Cincinnati but throughout the rest of the AFC North and with the Killer-B’s done in Pittsburgh the Bengals have their chance to fill the power void.
The Bengals fans guide to Super Bowl LIII
It’s been 30 years since the Cincinnati Bengals last played in a Super Bowl. A heartbreaking 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was the Bengals most recent shot at glory, and while Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams showcases how far Cincinnati is to breaking that drought, there are plenty of things for Bengals fans to focus on inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Keep an Eye on the Incoming Head Coach
Zac Taylor is taking the reins from Marvin Lewis in what will be the first head coaching change since I started watching Bengals games during that magical 2005 season. The 35-year old Rams QB coach joins six other “young, offensive-minded” hires from this years coaching carousel. For Bengals fans, they are hoping he’s a cut above the rest, despite being the last to ink a deal. Bengals faithful should pay close attention any and every time the CBS production crew decides to show him in action on Sunday.
This is the biggest game Taylor has been a part of since entering the NFL coaching ranks with the Dolphins back in 2012 and it will be really interesting to see him handle a moment all Bengals fans hope he can relive sooner rather than later in Cincinnati. No one on the outside of the Rams organization really knows how involved Taylor is with setting up the gameplan, but he has clearly had a very positive effect on Jared Goff since taking over his tutelage in 2017.
How he interacts with Goff in between plays and coaches him through mistakes could go a long way in determining how he will help Andy Dalton (or Ryan Tannehill?) return to his 2015 form. Zac Taylor might not be the most experienced coach getting a chance this year but the results with Goff prove he deserves this opportunity.
Pre-snap and Play-Action
There are still questions as to who will call plays and control the 2019 Bengals offense, but in saying that fans should expect a lot of carryover from this Rams system that has willed their way to Atlanta with pre-snap communication and play-action passing. It’s no secret that Goff and Rams head coach Sean McVay communicate right up to the 15-second cutoff during every play.
McVay can read the defense, then call something to match their formation and he often times uses motion to accomplish that. Former Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was allergic to this kind of communication and the offense ranked 32nd and 26th in his two seasons because of it. Expect Taylor to have his voice in the Red Rifle’s ear plenty on Sundays.
In terms of play-action passing the Rams used these plays as the cornerstone of their offense, calling them 34 percent of the time with devastating effect. LA’s 9.0 yards per play on these calls ranked third in the NFL and they averaged 1.9 yards per play more than regular calls. On the flip side, Cincinnati ranked 13th in the league calling play-action on 24 percent for 1.5 yards per play more than all other calls. It’s not rocket science, play-action works wonders in today’s NFL and Taylor is expected to bring that mindset with him to the Queen City.
Todd Gurley: The Receiver
Player A: 55 targets, 43 receptions, 296 yards, 6.9 yards per catch, 1 TD
Player B: 81 targets, 59 receptions, 580 yards, 9.8 yards per catch, 4 TD
Yes, I know Joe Mixon had a stellar year running the ball (1,168 yards, 4.9 yards per carry) but he was totally mismanaged in the passing game and his Player A numbers reflect that. Player B, well I’d say he was used correctly and will continue to be used that way on Sunday. Despite his two costly drops in the NFC Championship Game, Todd Gurley is still one of the best receiving backs in the NFL.
A big reason why he’s so productive is the way LA puts him in an ideal position to make big plays, whether it’s a wheel route down the sideline or a throwback screen off of…. play action, this coaching staff does all they can to help him gash defenses. So far in Mixon’s career, I’ve barely seen any of that, it’s similar to putting a governor on a 66′ Cobra. Keep an eye on how the Rams use Gurley’s receiving skills to their advantage and imagine Mixon on the other end of those throws.
This One’s For Whit
Every Bengals fan should be rooting for the new head coach to bring a Super Bowl winning pedigree with him to his new digs in Cincinnati, but if that wasn’t enough, we should all be rooting for Andrew Whitworth.
Likely on his way to back-to-back All-Pro selections Whitworth is one of the best players to ever play the tackle position and was a consummate professional during his 11-year stint in a Bengals uniform. He notched his first playoff win 13 years into his career and why not knock down all of the playoff milestones in one run. I know who I’m rooting for come Super Bowl Sunday.
Enjoy the holiday.