May 3, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review & Season Outlook: Cincinnati Bengals

#18, A.J. Green, WR, Bengals | #14 Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

*Click on a team's logo to go to their draft recap and season outlook page. A few will be posted each day in alphabetical order.

Cincinnati Bengals
Division: AFC North | Last Season Record: 10-6

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The Bengals are a young team has made it to the playoffs the last two seasons. In order for them to take the next step, they need a few more pieces.

A starting safety and a starting outside linebacker have to be top priorities on defense. They could also add another corner or depth purposes.

Running back is also a huge need for them. They could grab someone like Eddie Lacy in the first round, or wait until day 2 and take a different running back. Adding another weapon for Andy Dalton also makes some sense.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Round 1

21. Tyler Eifert*, TE
Experience: Junior | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 256 lbs.

Analysis: My initial reaction was mild, but I warmed up to the idea of Tyler Eifert making an immediate impact in this offense. I can't be upset with a team who drafts for value, and that is exactly what the Bengals did. They have Jermaine Gresham at tight end, but two tight end sets are a norm now in the NFL, so I understand this pick.

Grade: B+

Round 2

37. Giovani Bernard**, RB
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: North Carolina
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 204 lbs.

Analysis: Gio Bernard is the type of dynamic back they could use in this offense. I believe he is a great complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I'm surprised they did not go with Eddie Lacy, because he would have been better value, but still a solid pick.

Grade: B

53. Margus Hunt, DE
Experience: Senior | School: Southern Methodist
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 277 lbs.

Analysis: Margus Hunt was expected to come off the board between rounds 2 and 3, so this is decent value. They are already set at defensive end, but he could be a future starter for them. There was actually better value at defensive end with Damontre Moore and Alex Okafor.

Grade: C

Round 3

84. Shawn Williams, SS
Experience: Senior | School: Georgia
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 213 lbs.

Analysis: There were better safeties on the board, but Shawn Williams is a great fit in Mike Zimmer's defense. Maybe a little early for Williams to come off the board, especially before Bacarri Rambo, but they filled a major need.

Grade: C+

Round 4

118. Sean Porter, OLB
Experience: Senior | School: Texas A&M
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 230 lbs.

Analysis: The Bengals sure did wait a while before finally drafting an outside linebacker. Sean Porter is a mid-round talent with upside as a pass rusher. I liked this pick in the 4th round.

Grade: B+

Round 5

156. Tanner Hawkinson, OT
Experience: Senior | School: Kansas
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 298 lbs.

Analysis: They honestly did not need to draft a tackle, but they reached for one anyway in the 5th round. Tanner Hawkinson could be groomed into a potential starter, but I'm not a fan of this pick.

Grade: D-

Round 6

190. Rex Burkhead, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Nebraska
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 210 lbs.

Analysis: I like Rex Burhead, but his injury history is a big reason why he lasted until the sixth round. They already drafted Giovani Bernard earlier, and have Bernard Scott, but they don't have many needs so this isn't a horrible pick.

Grade: C

197. Cobi Hamilton, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Arkansas
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 215 lbs.

Analysis: A steal in the sixth round. I was hoping the Bengals would add another receiver at some point, and they got a Day 2 talent late on Day 3. Cobi Hamilton could be an immediate contributor. At worst, he could be a #3 or #4 receiver.

Grade: A

Round 7

240. Reid Fragel, OT
Experience: Senior | School: Ohio State
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 308 lbs.

Analysis: Reid Fragel is a late-round steal. He could have easily gone in the 3rd or 4th round. Once again, the Bengals don't need a tackle, but Andrew Whitworth will be 32 this year, and Fragel is a developmental left tackle who could become a starter down the line.

Grade: A+

251. T.J. Johnson, C
Experience: Senior | School: South Carolina
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 310 lbs.

Analysis: This is the right range for Johnson. I had a few centers ranked ahead of him, but he could actually challenge center Kyle Cook for the starting job.

Grade: B

2013 NFL Draft Overall Review:

Analysis: The Bengals came away with some immediate starters and some players who will contribute early. They didn't have many needs, but I do think they could have gotten better value at certain times.

They waited until the 4th round to draft a linebacker, but it wasn't as big of a need after bringing in James Harrison (in terms of them spending an early round pick on a linebacker). They did come away with a starting safety as well.

Andy Dalton has two new weapons in Tyler Eifert and Cobi Hamilton, not to mention Giovani Bernard out of the backfield. Overall, a pretty decent draft for the Bengals.

Overall Grade: B-

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Tyrone Goard, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Eastern Kentucky
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 205 lbs.

Analysis: Goard was worth a late round pick IMO. He's a pretty nice free agent pickup for the Bengals. They're pretty deep at receiver though, but he could still potentially make the team.

Bruce Taylor, MLB
Experience: Senior | School: Virginia Tech
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 236 lbs.

Analysis: Taylor looked like a 4th round pick earlier in the season, so it is a little surprising that he was not drafted. He could give the Bengals some depth at linebacker.

Onterio McCalebb, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Auburn
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 169 lbs.

Analysis: The Bengals want to convert McCalebb to a cornerback. He's very small, and it will be interesting to see how he makes that transition. He could be a nice return man for them.

Other Free Agent Signings

Larry Black, DT, Indiana
Terrence Brown, CB, Stanford
Jayson Dimanche, OLB, Southern Illinois
Roy Roundtree, WR, Michigan
Quinn Sharp, P, Oklahoma State
Troy Stoudamire, CB, Minnesota
John Sullen, G, Auburn

2013 Season Outlook:

Analysis: The Bengals are trying to get over the hump, and 2013 could be the year in which they do it. They have a talented football team and are really strong in several areas.

There is doubt surrounding Andy Dalton at quarterback, but no excuses this year. He has a top 5 receiver to throw to in A.J. Green, and Tyler Eifert will be a great weapon for him as well. Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate, and Cobi Hamilton could all contribute in some way. A big question is will any of them step up as the #2 receiver?

Andy Dalton took a lot of sacks last year, but most of them came from him holding onto the ball too long. The only position of concern on the offensive line is at center, with Trevor Robinson and Kyle cook battling for the starting job.

The Bengals defense is underrated. They bring back double-digit sack man Michael Johnson, who starts opposite of the talented Carlos Dunlap. Wallace Gilberry was a pleasant surprise, as he had 6.5 sacks as a rotational pass rusher. They are deep at defensive end and defensive tackle. Geno Atkins is the star of the defense, as the best 4-3 defensive tackle in football.

James Harrison is a short-term solution at outside linebacker, but is certainly an upgrade. He gives the Bengals yet another pass rusher, making them even more dangerous. Vontaze Burfict was awesome last year, and will start at middle linebacker this season.

The Bengals have four really good corners, led by Leon Hall and last year's first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick. Hopefully Shawn Williams can step in at safety and complete the back-end of the defense.

2013 Season Projection:

Analysis: Cincinnati is currently picking 25th overall in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. They chose 21st in this year's draft. The Bengals are currently my favorite to win the AFC North. They are a young team, but they are about to get over the hump. My expectations for Andy Dalton are high, and if he can take that next step, it could be a great season for the Bengals.

Projected Record: 10-6 (Worst Case) | 12-4 (Best Case)

Projected Finish: 1st in the NFC North; Result: Lose in the Divisional Round