The best way to sum up the Cincinnati Bengals 2018 NFL Draft was value. If you look at each of the Bengals picks they seemed to snatch players up that were falling from where most viewed them to be going. Our Cincinnati Bengals 2018 NFL Draft Review looks at each pick and how they fit both scheme wise and value wise.
Cincinnati Bengals 2018 NFL Draft Review
1st Round, Pick #21: Billy Price C Ohio State
Some will say that the center position has been a liability for the Bengals for years and now that Russell Bodine is gone Cincinnati went out an got an elite center prospect. There wasn’t a lot of buzz about Price leading up to the draft and some of that could have been because he tore his pec doing the bench press at the Combine. Regardless he has been clear to start training camp and his combination of strength and agility should have him starting inside day one.
2nd Round, Pick #22: Jessie Bates S Wake Forest
A bit of a surprise Jessie Bates didn’t go higher because free safeties who can play back in coverage and come up in the run game don’t usually last this long. Instead the Bengals have to be excited as Bates projects well to be their new starting free safety in Teryl Austin’s defense that plays more single high safety. Bates has a baseball background and you can tell in the way he can cover ground in coverage and then track the ball to make a play. This could be the steal of the draft.
3rd Round, Pick #13: Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
There was plenty of buzz that Hubbard may have gone in the first round mainly because a lack of pass rushers in this year’s class. Edge pass rusher was not a huge need for the Bengals but Hubbard was too good to pass up here in the third round. Look for Hubbard to see some action as a strong side linebacker in early downs before working his way as a pass rusher on third downs. Hubbard may not be an elite player, but his versatility will be helpful with a creative defensive coordinator.
3rd Round, Pick #14: Malik Jefferson LB Texas
A former 5 Star High School prospect it was thought that Jefferson would be one of the top prospects in this draft, but instead he’s failed to live up to all the hype. That’s not to say he doesn’t have talent, but Jefferson is best suited attacking downhill using this athletic ability in the run game. He is a liability in coverage but does show some blitzing ability and will likely be used as a reserve special team’s player before he carves out a role as an early down run defender.
4th Round, Pick #12: Mark Walton RB Miami
An ankle injury ended Walton’s season early and could be a reason he fell down to the fourth round instead of being a second day pick. Regardless he provides the Bengals with a key backup who can run off the edges with his speed and acceleration while providing a route runner out of the backfield. Combined with Gio Benard and Joe Mixon the Bengals now have three backs that can all do about the same thing allow the offense to maintain their identity no matter who is on the field.
5th Round, Pick #14: Davontae Harris CB Illinois State
With solid size, speed and position flexibility Harris should be able to find a role on this defense that is changing up their coverages from the two high looks of Paul Guenther to the single high safety that Austin runs. Don’t be surprised if Harris moves to safety full time and is the backup before long.
5th Round, Pick #21: Andrew Brown DE Virginia
Lacking a true position, underwhelming production and tweener size is likely the reason why the Bengals were able to land Brown in the fifth round. Brown may never become a starter in the NFL but he showed quickness and penetration ability at the Senior Bowl when lined up inside and could be a sub package interior pass rusher for the Bengals.
5th Round, Pick #33: Darius Phillips CB Western Michigan
Playing both offense, defensive and special teams it could be safe to say that Darius Phillips was the Broncos biggest weapon. Phillips is a bit thin and can be pushed around in the run game but he has good ball skills with 12 career interceptions and is a dynamic returner. If all he does is develop into a good return man, then this is a good pick. But he has the potential to be a solid slot corner in the league also.
7th Round, Pick #31: Logan Woodside QB Toledo
Woodside is built similar to Russell Wilson in that he is on the short side but uses his feet well to move around in the pocket and throw on the run. Now Woodside is clearly not the talent that Wilson is, but he has the potential to be a backup in this league and is worth taking a chance on.
7th Round, Pick #34: Rod Taylor G Mississippi
Playing both guard and tackle at Ole Miss Taylor gives the Bengals a bit of flexibility as a potential 6th or 7th lineman on their roster. Taylor is a much better pass blocker than run blocker which should help this quick strike offense.
7th Round, Pick #35: Auden Tate WR Florida State
A 4.68 40 yard dash time was largely the reason that Tate fell this far, but his game isn’t built on speed so that number shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it was. At 6’5 228lbs Tate knows how to use his size and length to win at the catch point. Tate will likely be a possession receiver to help move the chains and be a weapon in the redzone but could be the long term replacement for Tyler Eifert as the slot TE.
Draft Grade: B
Best Pick: Jessie Bates
Biggest Reach: Malik Jefferson