Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bengals draft

Well the NFL draft has come and gone. Reflecting on my earlier predictions and frustrations, I actually did pretty good in deciphering the Bengals’ emphasis and general trends. The only thing I really missed out on was I predicted the Bengals would take a running back early--instead they took a WR. Here are some post draft thoughts--

1. Keith Rivers (OLB)—One can complain that the Bengals didn’t trade up for Ellis, but one can’t complain about Rivers. He’s a solid linebacker that can play every position and has a reasonable chance to be a Day 1 starter. Good pick.

2. Jerome Simpson (WR)—A possession receiver that could start off as a #3 and may be Houshmandzadeh’s heir to the #2 spot. The Bengals need a new crop of receivers, however, I can’t help but think they reached for this one. They must have seen something they liked—hope it pays off.

3. Pat Sims (DT)—The Bengals needed a DT really bad and Sims is a good choice. We were lucky he was still available, and this is a value pick. He could make it into the rotation his rookie year given the weakness of the D-line.

4. Andre Caldwell (WR)--A great value pick. I suspect the Bengals weren’t planning on taking another receiver this quickly, but Caldwell was too good to pass up this late. Could develop into our next deep threat and possibly a return man.

5. Anthony Collins (OT)—Another great value pick. Fits well with the Bengals penchant for drafting massive offensive linemen and then developing them into effective pass protectors. The Bengals have some question marks on their line in the future and Collins could develop into a nice replacement for Levi Jones or Willie Anderson.

6. Jason Shirley (DT)—This was a questionable pick. The Bengals needed another DT, but I think they reached for a guy with a lot of off field troubles. Shirley is a massive physical specimen with great athletic ability. I am all for second chances, but just thought they went to early.

7. Corey Lynch (S)—A solid pick. At worst, Lynch should make a nice special teams player, and could possibly develop into a strong safety. Seems to have good intangibles with playmaker ability. The Bengals secondary keeps looking better.

8. Matt Sherry (TE)—I don’t like this pick. Although Sherry’s stock was rising due to his workouts, I can’t help but think that this guy would have lasted until round 7. Secondly, I am not that certain we needed to draft a TE. Could develop into a nice H-back, but probably not an every down TE.

9. Angelo Craig (DE/OLB)—A ‘tweener who could serve as a situational DE or OLB. If he makes the team, he should add depth and make a nice special teams player.

10. Michael Urrutia (WR)—I wasn’t surprised by this pick because I read that the Bengals were giving this guy a private workout and all indicators suggested the Bengals coveted a tall WR (he’s 6’ 5’’—230lbs). If he makes the team, he could develop into our #3 option of the future.

The theme of this draft was “Carson Palmer needs targets and protection.” The Bengals picked up 3 receivers and one pass catching TE plus an offensive lineman for the future. In the "meat market" that is the draft, the Bengals are clearly restocking their stables—a smart move with C. Johnson balking at training camp and Housh in the last year of his contract. We did not get a running back—which suggests that the Bengals are confident with the current situation—I hope they are right, but I expect to see a one or two FA RBs invited to camp. If Perry and Rudi aren’t looking good by June 1-- Shaun Alexander? The Bengals D-line still needs attention. Although Sims has the tools to develop into a nice starter, I am still concerned about our front four. We didn’t pick up a true DE, which leaves us a little thin. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple college FAs signed at DE. With the addition of Rivers, the reinstatement of Thurman, and our free agent signings, our LB corps is looking a little more solid and our secondary is going to be pretty good. We still need to find our nickel back of the future and I still would like to have a little more quality depth at LB, but things are improving.

In general, the draft was a good one, but as with most drafts its impact won’t be known for a couple of years. Rivers is the only player which I see as an immediate starter. Either Simpson or Caldwell could play key roles, particularly if Chad sits. Sims, hopefully, will see increasing play time over the course of the season.

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