All right, it's been three hectic days, and now I ought to post my full and collected thoughts. Suffice it to say, I'm not pleased with what has happened.
The draft picks, in order:
21. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
54. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
84. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas
96. Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest
120. Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
131. Roddrick Muckleroy, LB, Texas
152. Otis Hudson, OG, Eastern Illinois
191. Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas
228. Reggie Stephens, OG, Iowa State
Let's start at the top, where I believe Mike Brown went really, really wrong. I've already expressed my frustrations in this thread, and we're aware that Bob Bratkowski has never figured out how to effectively incorporate the tight end in the passing game. Icness has been railing against Gresham for weeks now; any of his columns address all the negatives to Gresham's game, and how they outweigh the positives.
But I'm most concerned about the fact that Mike Brown appeared to have been bidding against himself. Take Rob Gronkowski, my pick for the best tight end in the draft. He was obviously a target of the Patriots, who traded up with the Raiders to get him. There was literally no competition in taking a first-round tight end, even if teams below the Bengals had needs. It just wasn't going to happen. As such, the pick looks like a glaring reach; when put in the context of the Dez Bryant pick, it looks even worse. Right away, the Bengals bombed the most important selection they could make, and it will hurt for years to come. Or not, since Bratkowski still doesn't know what a tight end does exactly.
Of course, Mikey wasn't close to done, following up the Gresham pick with arguably the laziest and most self-serving player in the draft, Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap is an athletic freak of nature with speed for days, but he last played up to his talent level about two and a half years ago. That's where I think Mike Brown stopped scouting him, because Dunlap has gone nowhere since that point. Really, you'd think Marvin would have lost all his hair already, but the front office continues to give him reasons to have a coronary and die in the middle of training camp. Not to mention the fact that Dunlap duplicates what Michael Johnson brings to the table, and I'm not convinced he does what Johnson does better. Another stupid, stupid pick.
Shipley represents where the draft bottoms out for Bengals fans. I see him as nothing more than a possession-type slot receiver at best in the NFL; he can help out in the return game a bit but drafting a kick returner this high is asinine. He has no spot on the team right now. I also don't like it because I feel this pick represents the short attention span Mike Brown brings to the draft; the top three picks are all from powerhouse programs who play on national television regularly. All had good college careers, but when stacked up against other players at other positions and the like, I'm not entirely sure that these three hold their own. This bothers me to no end because it's exactly how Mike Brown does business.
Then, a beam of light begins to shine through. The selection of Brandon Ghee as a third-round compensatory pick is perfectly acceptable; the Bengals need a nickel corner badly, and Ghee is one of the fastest corners in the draft. No AFC North team has great wide receivers, so a good nickel corner becomes an added luxury. Another Bengals fan site speculated that Ghee would replace whichever of Hall or Joseph leaves for a bigger contract; I shudder at the thought because that rings so true.
Geno Atkins in the fourth is an intriguing selection. No one would have batted an eye had the Bengals taken him in the second, so it's an excellent value pick. But this has to be some kind of indictment on Tank Johnson, who is getting up there. That said, Cincy does have Jonathan Fanene and Pat Sims as well for depth purposes, so while I really like the pick I just hope Atkins gets the chance to prove himself at the professional level. I worry he might not get that chance in the Queen City.
Muckleroy is interesting because I was sure another LB would find themselves in orange and black by Sunday; I just don't know what to make of him, in all honesty. I can't really tell if he's good or bad. He's big, and he thrived in Will Muschamp's defense, so that bodes well in the transfer to Mike Zimmer. Hopefully he likes special teams, because he could thrive there.
I have no idea who Otis Hudson is. I'd never even heard his name before today and I consider myself an avid consumer of NFL draft information. According to NFL.com, "He has really good feet and long arms. The only thing he lacks is strength. Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander loved him when he worked him out, and he is always very thorough in his evaluations." Seeing what Alexander did with his raggedy group last year, this pick could pay dividends, but he'll be practice squad fodder for now. We ought to ask Icness more about him.
Dezmon Briscoe is a first-round talent who lasted into the sixth because of numerous character and academic red flags. We know this pick as a "Mike Brown special", but the fact is that Briscoe could be a productive player at this level if his head is on straight. I'd say he's probably cut after training camp, but I've been wrong before.
Stephens, I also know nothing about, but he strikes me as a good player on a God-awful football team who may be able to make some noise. I hope he lasts through camp because the Bengals could use all the interior line help they can get.
First day grade: F
Second day grade: D-
Third day grade: B-
Overall grade: D-
I was prepared to give this draft an F when I first saw it but I'm bumping it up a little bit because it isn't completely awful. There are a few players with very projectable skill sets who bring a lot to the table on the next level. The first three picks, however, leave such a bad taste in my mouth as to color my opinion of the draft as a whole. If I had to guess right now, I'd say that Ghee and Muckleroy last longer than Gresham and Dunlap do in the NFL. Again, we'll see where that takes the Bengals.
I can't help but feel like, at the end of the day, the Ravens are the division favorites. They gave up a first-rounder in a trade down and still drafted superbly, adding depth to the front seven while adding playmaking TEs on offense. Pittsburgh also improved on both sides of the ball, while Cleveland...reached on a lot of picks. Cincinnati lost some goodwill with me because of this draft, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they will answer their lingering questions in camp with the players they've got.
Tim Lehrbach wrote:I will break the Rose Garden.