With the Cincinnati Bengals off to a 6-2 start (their best since 2005) and two games away from possibly sweeping the AFC North, I felt the need to go over the Bengals' draftees to see how well they've done this year.
We've seen five rookies: OLB Rey Maualuga (USC), DE Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech), P Kevin Huber (Cincinnati), CB Morgan Trent (Michigan), and RB Bernard Scott (Abilene Christian).
No. 71 Andre Smith - OT, 6'4'' 335lbs (Round 1, Pick 6 - Alabama)
Thus far this season we've not seen from Cincinnati's first round pick.
After holding out until Aug. 30, Smith was almost immediately injured in practice. And despite having recovered from that injury Smith has yet to make it onto the field.
I'm not sure if this is a testament to Cincinnati's offensive line, or if it reaffirms my personal belief that the Bengals should have drafted someone else with the sixth overall pick.
No. 58 Rey Maualuga - OLB, 6'2'' 249lbs (Round 2, Pick 38 - Southern California)
Rey Maualuga has been a huge contributor to what has become a very good Cincinnati linebacking corps. It has to make it easier to transition from college to the pros when you can play alongside a former teammate (#55 Keith Rivers - OLB) and a veteran (#57 Dhani Jones - MLB). Maualuga has played lights out and has already amassed 30 tackles (18 solo, 12 assists), one sack, and two forced fumbles in eight games.
With injuries on the defensive line, the linebacking corps has been asked to do even more, especially in the run game, and they've delivered. Maualuga had a great day in week 5 at Baltimore, with 10 total tackles. Rey Maualuga has cemented himself as a great linebacker, and certainly will be one for years to come.
No. 93 Michael Johnson - DE, 6'7'' 266lbs (Round 3, Pick 70 - Georgia Tech)
Michael Johnson hasn't been seen much this season, with players like Jonathan Fanene and Robert Geathers ahead of him in the depth chart (Antwan Odom, the Bengals' outstanding DE is out for the season with a torn achilles).
However when he has played, he's played well. Thus far he has 13 tackles and one sack this season—not bad for a third string DE. The future looks bright in Cincinnati, and Johnson is one of the reasons.
No. 80 Chase Coffman - TE, 6'6'' 244lbs (Round 3, Pick 98 - Missouri)
Being third string behind J.P. Foschi and Daniel Coats, Chase Coffman hasn't seen the field this season. But if his play at Missouri is any indication of how he'll play in the pros, I'd expect to see him break onto the top of the depth chart within a few years.
At Missouri he had 247 receptions for 2,659 yards and 30 touchdowns. He could end up being a great NFL TE.
No. 50 Jonathan Luigs - C, 6'4'' 301lbs (Round 4, Pick 106 - Arkansas)
Luigs hasn't seen much playing time this season either. He made his NFL debut on special teams in week 3 at home against the Steelers. He didn't appear on offense until week 7 at home against Chicago, when he played in the second half after the game was pretty much already decided.
It will be interesting to see how he develops as a player, but having seen so little of him thus far, it's hard to judge how he'll turn out.
No. 10 Kevin Huber - P, 6'1'' 221lbs (Round 5, Pick 142 - Cincinnati)
When a team drafts a punter rather than picking one up in free agency after the draft it means they need one, which translates into playing time.
Huber has come in and shown why he was drafted, with 42 punts averaging 43.7 yards, a long of 61 yards, and 13 punts inside the 20 yard line. Huber has played fairly well thus far, especially for a rookie.
No. 25 Morgan Trent - CB, 6'1'' 195lbs (Round 6, Pick 179 - Michigan)
When Morgan Trent entered the draft a lot of fans didn't really think he'd do anything in the NFL, much less in his rookie season. This may have been because he was on a Michigan squad that had just come off the worst season in school history, or the fact that he had never developed into the shut down corner people expected.
Regardless, the most impressive asset for Morgan Trent is his speed. He beat Ohio State's speedster Ted Ginn Jr. in a track meet and caught Florida's Percy Harvin from behind in the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
While he may not be a shutdown corner—and probably never will—Trent has worked hard on his tackling ability (he was recruited as a WR), and it's shown. Call it a homer pick, but I have been more impressed with Morgan Trent this season than any of the other rookies (even Maualuga), as they were expected to be good, while Trent was expected to be a draft bust. A
Trent has racked up 13 tackles in eight games, while showing great improvement. He also had a fumble recovery and nearly an interception in the preseason. With Leon Hall, Johnathan Joseph, and Chinedum Ndukwe there with him in the secondary this Bengals defense is looking better every week.
Now if he could just get those commentators to pronounce his name right (they keep calling him Trent Morgan).
No. 28 Bernard Scott - RB, 5'10'' 200lbs (Round 6, Pick 209 - Abilene Christian)
Bernard Scott hasn't seen a whole lot of playing time, which is understandable considering that Cedric Benson has played like a man possessed.
Scott was a dominant running back in college and won the Division II equivalent of the Heisman trophy in 2008. However like some of his new teammates, he comes with baggage, Scott has been arrested no less than five times.
No. 37 Fui Vakapuna - FB, 5'11'' 244lbs (Round 7, Pick 215 - Brigham Young)
Fui Vakapuna is the only one of the 7th round picks on the active roster, and is sitting behind Jeremy Johnson. Considering most teams don't even have a second fullback I wouldn't expect to see Vakapuna on the field unless the Bengals are up by 70.
No. 69 Clinton McDonald - DE, 6'2'' 290lbs (Round 7, Pick 249 - Memphis)
Clinton McDonald is currently on the practice squad, and while that doesn't mean he won't make the depth chart, with the depth they have at his position I doubt he'll be dawning the orange and black stripes on gameday anytime soon.
No. 84 Freddie Brown - WR, 6'3'' 215lbs (Round 7, Pick 252 - Utah)
Freddie Brown is in a similar situation as Clinton McDonald. He's no Steve Smith, and really didn't do much at Utah until last season when he put up 77 receptions for 900 yards and all of his 7 career touchdowns.
All-in-all this draft class looks pretty sharp.
Players like Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Kevin Huber, and Morgan Trent have proven to be steals at their respective picks, whereas players like Scott, Smith, and Coffman have yet to show us what they can do (Scott to a lesser extent).Meanwhile Vakapuna, McDonald, and Brown showing us pretty much what one would expect from 7th round picks.
This draft class is definitely contributing to a very good Bengals team.