Grading the Bengals 2018 NFL Draft Class

Grading the Bengals 2018 NFL Draft!
Marvin Lewis with newly acquired Billy Price.

 

The last two years for the Cincinnati Bengals have been a disappointment. That disappointment has come from poor drafting, poor coaching and losing in free agency. This year they seem to be on a different track as the Bengals made inroads during free agency and got rid of offensive line coach Paul Alexander who has been unable to develop the offensive lineman the Bengals have drafted the last few years. With all of that being said, let’s look at how the 2018 Bengals did in the draft?

Round One: Billy Price, Center, Ohio State

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Price suffered a torn pectoral at the combine, but should be ready to go by the start of the season. Price is a technically proficient center. My only question with Price is his strength but overall I am glad the Bengals didn’t go with a sexy pick like Lamar Jackson. Price to me was the second best center in this draft behind Arkansas’s Frank Ragnow. He will be a HUGE upgrade over Russell Bodine and I like this pick. Grade B+

Round Two: Jessie Bates, Safety, Wake Forest

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The Bengals defense suffered a huge loss in free agency when they lost safety Reggie Nelson a few years ago and they have not been able to find his replacement. In my opinion, now they have! Marvin Lewis has a history of not playing rookies. Let’s hope this is not the case with Bates. Grade A-

Round Three: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

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Michael Johnson got to introduce the pick that will eventually replace him! That is, he will eventually start if he can play up to his abilities and let’s face it, he was an under-achiever at Ohio State. Technically he is solid with active hands. My doubts are that he has never lived up to his abilities, but I think it is worth a shot in the third round for the Bengals. Grade C+

Round Three: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

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I think this is more of a developmental pick for the Bengals two or three years down the road. Jefferson no doubt has the skill set of a first-round pick, but just like Hubbard, he under-achieved during his college career. He is terrible in pass coverage and is not a great tackler. On the bright side, he is very fast and covers a lot of ground. Grade C

Round Four: Mark Walton, RB, Miami (Fla)

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Walton had rushed for 428 yards this past season in just four games until an injury forced him to the sidelines and ended his season. Walton could be a steal here if he can stay healthy. Walton had a tremendous sophomore season in 2016 and last year looked to be one of the best running backs in the country until his unfortunate setback. He will have plenty of time to develop, assuming that Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon stay healthy. Grade B-

Round Five: Devontae Harris, CB, Illinois State

I like his ball production and speed, and he has got good size at 6-foot, 200 pounds, and probably could carry a little more weight and still move well. The glaring problem here would be that he is a little stiff in the hips. The positive side of him is that I think he could play safety as well as cornerback. Grade C+

Round Five: Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia

Brown was a five-star recruit who was plagued by injuries his first two seasons at Virginia. Brown was a solid player for Virginia and was much better when the Cavaliers became a 3-4 team. He has a ton of ability and performed well in the combine but I think he is a project. Grade C

Round Five: Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan

Phillips was a touchdown machine at Western Michigan, where he scored fourteen touchdowns in 51 career games, including five on kick returns. He also scored twice on offense as a freshman, returned one punt for a touchdown as a junior, had a 67-yard fumble-return score last season against Michigan State (when he also returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown) and scored on five interception returns. He began his career at Western Michigan as a wide receiver but was converted to a cornerback after two years. This could be one of the biggest surprises of the draft. Grade B

Round 7: Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo

Woodside is the classic “if he were a few inches taller, went to a better school, etc.” QB. There’s no getting around his size but he makes it work in every way. Has the arm, mobility and competitive drive to get it done. At times he throws an absolutely pretty ball and can touch all 3 areas. He definitely has to work on his mechanics and get in the film room, but he has plenty of real NFL traits to work with right now. Grade B-

Round 7: Rod Taylor, OL, Ole Miss

Had a very good combine to showcase his natural athletic ability. Will play as a guard at the next level and has the power to move back defenders in the run game. Shows surprisingly agile footwork, and is able to hold down his own in the passing game. Has had numerous red flags regarding character and motivation, but as we know the Bengals don’t mind that! This is a solid pick here and Taylor will have a decent shot to make this roster or at least be a practice squad player. Grade B-

Round 7: Auden Tate, WR, Florida State

This could be a steal. He is great at catching 50/50 balls. Not very fast but he is a very real red zone weapon. Grade B

Overall Grade B-

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