The Cincinnati Bengals have selected players in recent NFL drafts that are key components of the current roster. But, what if we revisited the past three Drafts to take a look at what the Bengals roster could have been?
Players like Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Kevin Zeitler, and George Iloka are just a few that come to mind that the Bengals have acquired in the most recent NFL Drafts. It could be said that Cincinnati has had some decent success in the Draft. But let’s revisit the previous 3 NFL Drafts and take a look at some of the players the Bengals could have taken. It’s really difficult to know how a player will pan out in the league. Knowing what we know about the players in these three draft classes, check out what could have been.
The 2016 NFL Draft experts labeled the Bengals positions of need to be at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and linebacker. Here are the Bengals most previous draft results:
Rd. 1 (24)- William Jackson III, CB
Rd. 2 (55)- Tyler Boyd, WR
Rd. 3 (87)-Nick Vigil, ILB
Rd. 4 (122)- Andrew Billings, NT
Rd. 5 (161)-Christian Westerman, G
Rd. 6 (199)- Cody Core, WR
Rd. 7 (245)- Clayton Fejedelem, S
The Bengals first round pick was the University of Houston cornerback William Jackson III. Jackson did not record any statistics in the 2016 season. Players such as Darqueze Dennard, Adam Jones, and Dre Kirkpatrick were the regulars at the corner position. I like the pick as he was probably the best overall player available at the time. With aging players, and contract negotiations coming up, look for him to see the field soon. As for picks such as Nick Vigil, Tyler Boyd, and Cody Core, The Bengals get a boost in production for the future. But the draft could have looked very different.
The Bengals weren’t in need of a quarterback but you can’t help to think about the fact of thinking about some possibilities. Cincinnati spent the 122nd pick in the 4th round on nose tackle, Andrew Billings. Thirteen picks later the Dallas Cowboys spent their 4th round pick on quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has had a pretty good rookie season and was in the conversation to be the league’s MVP most of the season.
The Bengals’ 5th round selection was guard, Christian Westerman. the Bengals needed an offensive lineman to add to the depth but just 4 picks later the Kansas City Chiefs selected wide receiver, Tyreek Hill. Hill has a tremendous year and has been the talk of the league in recent weeks with his blazing speed and kick return abilities.
It’s easy to say “What if?” but could you imagine adding these two pieces to the roster? Electric is a word that could be used to describe it.
In round one, two of the top young edge rushers in the NFL today were taken after the Bengals took Cedric Ogbuehi with the 21st pick. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers), and defensive end Shane Ray (Denver Broncos) were both taken immediately after the Bengals in 2015. Both players have had tremendous starts early on in their careers bringing up questions as to what the defense could have looked like. Dupree, for example, has recorded 8.5 sacks already in his short two-year career after playing sparingly as a rookie and missing a chunk of time in the 2016 season. Shane Ray has already recorded 12 sacks in his two-year stint with the Broncos.
The Bengals haven’t had a ton of success getting to the quarterback other than Geno Atkins attacking from inside in the three technique, and Carlos Dunlap coming off the edge. Either one of these two young talents could have made the Stripes better. Cincinnati missed big in the first round of this draft.
Offensive Wins in the Draft
I like the Jake Fisher pick. He has been able to step in and give some time on the offensive line and as the extra blocker in the overload sets the Bengals like to run. Tyler Kroft has also impressed in his short career. Mostly as an H-back, Kroft has been the lead blocker for many Bengals touchdown runs at the goal line. Kroft is a gritty player and we need to take advantage of his blocking abilities. CJ Uzomah showed Bengals fans what he could do this year in the absence of Tyler Eifert. Look for the Auburn Alumni to be included in two tight end sets in the near future.
A large part of the current Bengals key contributors were taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. Take a look at the Bengals selections and imagine some alternatives.
Rd. 1 (24)- Darqueze Dennard, CB
Rd. 2 (55)- Jeremy Hill, RB
Rd. 3 (88)- Will Clarke, DE
Rd. 4 (111)- Russel Bodine, C
Rd. 5 (164)- A.J. McCarron, QB
Rd. 6 (212)- Marquis Flowers, OLB
Rd. 7 (239)- James Wright, WR
Rd. 7 (252)- Lavelle Westbrooks, CB
The 2014 Draft was one that the Bengals selected many players that are currently contributing to the success, or lack thereof, of the team. Fans are still waiting to see something of relevance from first-round pick Darqueze Dennard. Fans wouldn’t be waiting for production from, let’s say, Kelvin Benjamin who was taken by the Carolina Panthers just four picks later. Imagine an offense of A.J. Green on one side, and Kelvin Benjamin on the other. That would be rather scary for a defensive secondary to gameplay for. It could have happened. The Bengals could have also gotten their hands on offensive tackle Michael Schofield. He helped lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl just one year later. Schofield was taken after Bengals’ defensive lineman Will Clarke in the third round of this draft as was Green Bay Packers’ tight end Richard Rodgers, and Indianapolis Colts’ wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
It’s hard to sit here and say that the Bengals should have drafted any other player because you never know what kind of production they will provide as professionals. But one thing fans can speculate is what could have been.
It’s always fun to speculate. That’s what is going to happen here. The Bengals have taken a cornerback, with their first round pick, for five of the last six years. Other than the chance to take an edge rusher instead of Cedric Ogbuehi, the Bengals have done well with their defense. With different possibilities including some of the ones I have already mentioned, here is a potential offensive lineup. This is not taking into consideration of pending free agents. Read it and weep.
A potential lineup that includes Kelvin Benjamin and A.J. Green lined up on the outside, and Tyreek Hill in the slot, along with Tyler Eifert or Richard Rodgers at tight end is pretty mesmerizing. Looking back, just a few small adjustments in just the last three NFL Drafts lets Cincinnati walk away having weapons everywhere offensively. Something about this offense screams playoff win(s).