Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades Around the Web
According to experts, it appears that the Cincinnati Bengals struck gold once again in the 2013 NFL draft. Cincinnati has been receiving praise from experts regarding yet another solid draft for the fifth consecutive year.
The committee of owner Mike Brown, player personnel vice presidents Paul and Pete Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis has really found its groove lately.
The Bengals continue their approach of taking the best player available on their board while opting out of reaching for a stronger "need" position that would bring a lower draft value to the team.
This was by no means a very flashy draft for the Bengals, but they came away with some of the best value out of all 32 NFL teams while filling much-needed holes on their roster.
Let's take a look at how the top draft experts from around the web graded the Bengals' 2013 draft class.
Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated writer Chris Burke seems to be a big fan of what the Bengals accomplished in the early rounds of the draft. He also mentions that Cincinnati was able to find some great value down the stretch.
In his latest article, he gave the Bengals a B-plus draft grade. Here's what Burke had to say:
TE Tyler Eifert brings a dynamic presence to this offense and RB Gio Bernard could, too. DE Margus Hunt might need some time to learn the NFL game. Cincinnati actually did quite well in the mid- to late rounds, with LB Sean Porter and seventh-round OT Reid Fragel shaping up as very smart selections.
Burke really hits the nail on the head here.
Eifert will be a strong contributor right away as the Bengals will look to run the two-tight end sets more often. He will form a very dangerous duo with incumbent starter Jermaine Gresham.
Burke mentions that Bernard should be an early contributor as well. This is exactly what the Bengals have planned—he should see touches immediately as a complementary back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The assessment on Hunt is correct as well. He could contribute early, but it will be on a limited basis in a rotation. Hunt will need time to get up to speed with the level of play in the NFL.
Finally, Porter and Reid are two great value selections in the latter portion of the draft. Both of these players should easily make the 53-man roster and earn roles within their first year.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN is one of the most recognizable faces in the NFL draft community. His opinion is valued over most draft experts. A high grade from Kiper is usually a great indication of a job well done by the drafting committee of a franchise.
Kiper had nothing but praise about the Bengals' haul in the 2013 NFL draft and gave the team an A-minus in his latest article (ESPN Insider required).
Here is Kiper's take:
The Bengals somehow didn't address a pretty big need early (and they don't have many) and still really impressed me. The pick of Tyler Eifert is just a steal (I had him No. 8 on my final Big Board). You have a good QB, but a limited one -- Andy Dalton isn't going to carve teams up down the field. But with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Eifert, you have guys that don't need to be open to be thrown to. Try dealing with all three on the field in the red zone. Eifert to Cincy is a great case of a team simply pouncing when the value gets too good.
Giovani Bernard gives them a new dimension in the run game, ironically because he can actually catch the ball. He was the most versatile RB on my board, and getting the first RB taken at No. 37 overall isn't bad. The Bengals D-line continues to be filled with long, athletic freaks with the addition of Margus Hunt. I know Hunt's a project, but he's a great bet at No. 53 overall. He can almost block enough kicks to justify that pick given how weirdly effective he is at it.
They did get their safety in Round 3. Shawn Williams has a chance to beat out Taylor Mays.Sean Porter can back up James Harrison, who's now 35. Cobi Hamilton has a chance to stick. And Reid Fragel could be a steal in the seventh. The Bengals seem to be a groove with the draft, the only downside being the picks that came via the Carson Palmer deal are now spent. It was fun while it lasted.
Drafting Eifert early seems to be a very likable selection by the Bengals. After sitting inside Kiper's top-10 prospects, he earns Cincinnati great value with the 21st overall selection.
Kiper also is very excited about the continued value that the Bengals were able to get out of the rest of their draft class. The Bengals organization should certainly be proud to receive such a high grade from a very credible source.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News seems ecstatic over the Bengals' haul in the 2013 NFL draft. Iyer is a big fan of all of the Bengals' early selections and seems to think they will be able to contribute immediately.
Iyer goes on to give the Bengals an A-minus in his latest article. Here is what he wrote:
Welcome to the Jungle, where the Bengals have buried their bungling, and done it with offense. See Notre Dame mismatch-creating tight end Tyler Eifert and North Carolina speed back Giovani Bernard. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green got it going in '11, and Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones were good follow-ups in '12. Eifert and Bernard are great options for Dalton to further break out of his Green dependency. They also made their defensive strength stronger, as SMU's 6-8 Estonian end Margus Hunt fits right in with their pass rush. Georgia's Shawn Williams fills free safety.
Obviously, the top-half of the Bengals' draft haul continues to draw significant praise from pundits.
Iyer correctly points out the mismatches that will be created with the addition of Eifert and Bernard. These truly are much needed weapons to complement the likes of Green, Sanu and Jones. Dalton must be absolutely elated right now.
On the defensive side, Iyer sees the great fit of Hunt on the defensive side of the ball in a rotation on the line. That is an absolute perfect way to begin Hunt's pro career as he learns the defense.
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
Harrison is excited about what the Bengals were able to do for the team in the 2013 draft on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
He notes that the Bengals filled needs with great collegiate players and are clearly a team on the rise in the NFL. Here is what he wrote:
This is clearly a football team on the rise. The Bengals, who already had Jermaine Gresham on the roster, can now play two tight ends with a vengeance following the addition of first-round pick Tyler Eifert. Then the Bengals came back in the second round and grabbed a heckuva complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Giovani Bernard, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 184 rushes last season at North Carolina. Fellow second-round pick Margus Hunt, meanwhile, will be worked into the rotation on the defensive line with Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson... as well as 2012 draftees Brandon Thompson and Devon Still.
One more note on Eifert: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told me that Eifert has worked hard to develop his in-line blocking. That should only help a Bengals team that finished 18th in rushing last season.
Harrison points out two things here that are very noteworthy.
First, the youth on the defensive line is tremendous. Yes, Hunt is 26 years old which is an advanced age for a rookie. However, he lines up next to Dunlap, Atkins, Johnson, Thompson and Still. All of these players are 26 or younger.
Next, Harrison notes that Eifert has improved as an in-line blocker. This is great news for Cincinnati after Gresham struggled mightily with blocking responsibilities in 2012.
Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
Like other analysts, Brugler sees the talent that was drafted early by the Bengals. However, his analysis shows his admiration for the Bengals late-round steals.
This is what Brugler had to say after he gave the Bengals' draft an "A":
A year ago, I thought the Bengals had one of the NFL's top drafts and they started strong again this year with the interesting selection of Tyler Eifert, a terrific pass-catcher who'll complement A.J. Green and Andy Dalton's talent in the short to intermediate passing attack. The Bengals had been long rumored to like Giovani Bernard as a complement to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. They wasted no time in showing it, making the multi-purpose Tar Heel the first running back drafted in 2013. The Bengals re-stock the defensive line each year, and the 6-foot-8, 277-pound Margus Hunt has the athleticism to prove a steal -- just like Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins as non-first-round picks for the Bengals. Finally, Cincinnati nabbed one of my personal favorites in Shawn Williams, a no-nonsense safety who'll bring some toughness in the secondary. I'm just as high on their third-day picks. Rex Burkhead would've been drafted much earlier a year ago but slipped after an injury-plagued senior season. And if Texas A&M outside linebacker Sean Witherspoon and Kansas offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson get in the weight room, they'll surprise.
Brugler admits that Williams is one of his personal favorites in the 2013 NFL draft. He is absolutely correct that Williams will bring toughness to the Bengals secondary. He should start right away and be a great complement to Reggie Nelson.
The selection of Burkhead may have come as a surprise to many, but Brugler loved the pick. Burkhead should translate nicely into a third-down back and could be an upgrade over Brian Leonard who formerly held the position.
Finally, Brugler adds that if Sean Porter (yes, he wrote Witherspoon in the article) and Hawkinson can bulk up for the NFL, they may turn some heads. Clearly, this draft class is very appealing from top to bottom.
Andrea Hangst, Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report's own AFC North lead writer Andrea Hangst weighed in on the draft selections by all 32 teams. She notes the improvement of the Bengals' drafts in recent years and sees the trend continue in 2013.
Hangst gives the Bengals a B-plus for their 2013 NFL draft efforts in her latest article.
The Cincinnati Bengals' draft-day decisions are made by a combination of owner Mike Brown and player personnel vice presidents Paul and Pete Brown. This family has been the source of much criticism in the past, but in the last three years that has changed drastically. The Bengals have become one of the best-drafting teams in the NFL, and 2013 continues that trend.
In the spirit of teams taking the best player available in Round 1, the Bengals took top tight end Tyler Eifert, adding a major weapon to allow quarterback Andy Dalton to take a big third-year leap. In the second round, need and talent were met when the Bengals got running back Giovani Bernard, the exact type of back they needed to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Hangst is on board with each of the other draft experts and sees the value in the Bengals' early selections. This should be a much more dynamic offense in 2013 and gives Dalton plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Defensive end Margus Hunt and linebacker Sean Porter give them much-needed defensive depth. The only questionable move was strong safety Shawn Williams in Round 3; in an ideal world, they would have gotten a better one earlier on, but their Rounds 1 and 2 picks justify putting the position off until later.
Her analysis is right on the money in regards to Hunt. With Dunlap a free agent in 2014 and Johnson playing under the franchise tag, another addition to the defensive line was a must.
Williams may have certainly been a questionable pick in the third round due to the high need at safety, but Hangst is correct that the late addition is justified by the stellar earlier picks.
Overall, this seems to have been a very popular draft class among the experts, which should give the Bengals great momentum heading into the 2013 season.