So the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled on another NFL Draft. It's been full of shocks and surprises as one comes to expect from the draft, the biggest of all perhaps being that the Cincinnati Bengals had a confident and respectable draft all round.
Each pick was made with sound reasoning, and impulsiveness was left with the Cincinnati Bengals of the past.
So now it's about that time that we reflect on this years draft class, their qualities and shortcomings as well as their potential to succeed.
Weight: 211 lbs.
Arm Length: 34 3/8 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/4 in.
40 Yard Dash time: 4.50 secs
For weeks, months even, experts have been confident that Cincinnati would draft A.J. Green, and so they did. A.J. Green has been referred to as "a new breed" by Marvin Lewis, and Mike Brown will be hoping he delivers on that with the hefty price tag that will come with him.
Green creates separation like no other receiver in the draft and is the epitome of the go up and get it WR. I have to admit I really like this pick. Green is a humble and grounded guy with big time talent; he is most certainly the kind of receiver the Bengals need to replace the circus that is Ochocinco, and there's no limit to how much he can improve and impress.
Newton going No.1 may well have been great for Cincinnati, as their draft could well have looked very different had Cam been dangled in front of them at No.4. Thanks to Carolina, Cincinnati went with as close to a sure thing you can get in A.J. Green, and they will be better for it. Great pick.
Weight: 215 lbs.
Arm Length: 31 3/4 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 in.
40 Yard Dash time: 4.87 secs
So the big story of the second round in terms of QB's was Cincinnati's acquisition of TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. The flame haired Horned Frogs QB has 29 college wins to his name(the most of any QB in this class) and has clocked a QB rating of 166.48, throwing for 27 touchdowns and piling up 2,857 yards in the process.
He's been criticized as being too small and not having enough arm strength, as well as being one of the purist spread QB's on the board. While Dalton will likely take a long while to transition to the NFL, his passion and desire are something to behold. Dalton has been quietly sensational at TCU, and he has every intention of carrying that over to the NFL. He's the natural leader and gym-rat student of the game that Cinci really need going forward, and while some clamored for Mallett on Friday, Dalton is what's best for the Bengals.
With Benson to lean on as he develops, and Jay Gruden's run first system to transition with, Dalton will thrive, added to that he couldn't ask for a greater set of young guys to throw to, providing hope an excitement for the future among Bengals fans. Dalton is the kind of talent that is determined to prove the naysayers wrong, and the winningest QB of this years class couldn't be in a better situation to do it.
Weight: 248 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/4 in.
40 Yard Dash time: 4.44 secs
With the two big offensive concerns answered, the third round was a great time to go defense.
Outside Linebacker Dontay Moch was a first-team All-WAC and the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and in 2008, Moch set the Nevada single-season record for most quarterback sacks in a season (11.5). Moch lead the 40 Yard Dash in DL's with a time 4.44 and has the explosiveness that the Bengals have been searching for.
With Dhani Jones beginning to fade out and Rey Maualuga likely sliding into his shoes, Moch can provide a boost as strong-side linebacker, competing with Roddrick Muckelroy. He has boat loads of ability and a tremendous bull-rush, gifted to Moch with lightning speed and a fearless disposition. This guy can hit big, and while he remains somewhat raw with some disappointments such as his performance in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and concerns over his ability to play man-coverage, the potential upside of this exciting play-maker is just what Mike Zimmer is looking for.
Arm Length:33 1/2 in.
Hand Size:9 1/4 in.
40 Yard Dash time: 5.3 secs.
Boling has great intangibles. Added to that, he has great work ethic. That's great news for Cinci and somewhat shocking. It wouldn't be surprising to see him start and surpass Andre Smith right away. Projected by some to be off the board in the late first or early second round, Boling has also been called the second best guard in the draft.
He has four years starting, which puts the mind at ease, and with great intuition, his upsides such as strength and lightness on the feet are enough to make me overlook his weaknesses such as his inability to handle power rushing DE's, and he struggles to anchor. He also has a DUI to his name, but which athlete doesn't these days? It's astounding!
Assessing the O-line with this pick made great sense for the Bengals as they are not particularly strong in that vicinity, and with Andy Dalton potentially starting, he's going to need all the time Boling can buy him.
Weight: 217 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 3/8 in.
Hand Size: 9 3/4 in.
College: West Virginia
40 Yard Dash time: 4.57 secs.
Yet another sensible pick from the Bengals, Sands is a great prospect and could well start for Cincinnati this year. Most draft experts projected this guy going somewhere in the second to third round, making the Bengals lucky to grab him where they did.
Sands has great size for the safety position, having more of prototypical receiver's frame. He's an intimidating presence in the back-field and is not shy to make tackles. He has great awareness and the aggression to accompany it. With a huge catch radius and great hands, Sands could explode onto the scene.
He is known to struggle with elusive slot receivers due to his size, and that will play against him in man-coverage, his instincts and short distance speed are also issues.
Sands is great value for pick and has a whole heap of potential. Another solid pick for Cincinnati, making a solid draft that much more pleasing to fans.
Weight: 202 lbs.
Arm Length: 30 in.
Hand Size: 9 in.
40 Yard Dash time: 4.62 secs.
Whalen has succeeded against all odds at Stanford. He had no scholarship and was said to lack the speed necessary to create elite receiver separation. However, he managed to lead Standford's receivers for consecutive years and overcame an elbow injury in his senior year.
He has good blocking ability and is intelligent (an academic all-American), but unfortunately does not possess the abilities to be an elite receiver at the next level. Though by making that judgement, I am giving Whalen more of the negativity that he seems to thrive off of and strive to prove wrong.
Whalen has worked as hard as possible to achieve what he has at the college level, and he deserves a shot in Cincinnati. Whether he can compete with any of the guys already on the roster is unlikely, and Cincinnati's taking of a receiver here is somewhat strange to begin with (although you could argue in favor of depth), so for now, we'll have to wait and see with this guy.
Pro Day Stats
40 Yard Dash time: 4.56
Southern Illinois cornerback Korey Lindsey, is a small school guy with big league potential. Unfortunately, Korey Lindsey was not invited to the NFL scouting combine, but Sidelines Scouting did have this to say about him, 'Instincts and route-recognition skills are above-average, is a heady player who understands the importance of preparation'
Despite having great discipline and an uncanny ability to read quarterback's eyes, Lindsey has suffered back-to-back hamstring injuries that has stopped him from being able to showcase his abilities to scouts. Gil Brandt called him a third round prospect if healthy, so it will be interesting to see if he can show why he should have gone then instead. A former first team All-American selection by the Associated Press, Lindsey has been praised for his great intangibles. The question right now is whether he can get healthy and provide something for the Bengals.
As for the cornerback position, Lindsey provides the Bengals with depth at the position. With uncertainty over Jonathan Joseph returning and Adam Jones coming back from an injury, Lindsey will give the Bengals some sort of piece of mind at the position.
Weight: 205 lbs.
40 Yard Dash time: 4.53 secs. (unofficial)
A three-year starter for Baylor, Finley broke the teams single-season rushing record in his 2010 senior year with 1,218 yards. His 22 career touchdowns rank second in school history. He's certainly not lacking in confidence, having the following to say en route to his school rushing record, "If you're a running back, you want to be the best. I'm ready to do it."
He's both patient and elusive with the ability to accelerate quickly and turn the corner, also displaying great hands an ability to catch on the run. However, he is a one speed kind of guy and lacks the ability to run to daylight. He's not an overtly strong ball carrier and is easily knocked sideways after an initial hit.
Finley will add depth to the Bengals running back corps and provide insurance if Cedric Benson isn't going to return. But if you can read one thing from the Bengals leaving the running back position until the seventh round to address, it's that they obviously fully expect to get Benson back in stripes in 2011. If they don't, Finley will likely back up Bernard Scott, but that doesn't exactly inspire a great deal of confidence or allow for a significant amount of depth.
As I have stated throughout this article, the Bengals have had a very un-Bengals-like draft this year. Meaning, they have been sensible, strategic, wise and a little bit lucky.
In the last 72 hours, Marvin Lewis, Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden have been oozing confidence and claim to have had everything go their way in the early going. Gruden went so far as to liken the Bengals acquisition of Green and Dalton as like 'opening your favorite present as a kid on Christmas day'.
While I have more faith in the Bengals coaching staff than in many previous years, I have to admit at being weary about the way things went at first. However, after sitting through too many press conferences and re-watching film on the guys we picked up, I can see where the coaches are coming from and how they expect the team to take shape, and I have to admit, I'm excited.
While I don't expect immediate success, I feel as though the future is bright in Cincinnati. The team seems to have a sense of direction, and more importantly, a fuller sense of identity going forward. With so many young players on the team and Gruden and Zimmer ready to mold each and everyone of them, there is reason to believe that success is possibly in the Bengals future.
So to summarize, the main positives to take away from this draft are: the Bengals organization being level-headed sensible and less erratic, Marvin Lewis having much more swing than in previous years (supposedly taking Dalton over Mallett despite Mike Brown's disagreement) and a great set of young guys who are lacking in character concerns and bursting with potential.
And finally, while I have high hopes for Dalton as the future of the franchise, it's going to be a bumpy road in Cincinnati with the teams success in 2011 likely contingent on Cedric Benson being the figurehead of the offense, which you can read about here.