Here's Some Draft Grades. Yes, They're Dumb. Yes, You Want Them.

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 - 

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: B+. Picking up Cordy Glenn from the Bills for a move down of 10 spots in the first round will help their offensive line, so that needs to be considered here. Selecting Price, a center/guard, continues the Bengals' effort to get stronger up front, though I think there could have been more of a difference-maker selected here. The Bengals could have waited and landed a very good interior offensive lineman in the second or third round. The Bengals picked up an extra third-round pick by moving down a few spots in Round 2. Their back-to-back third-rounders -- Hubbard and Jefferson -- beef up their front seven. The games of both guys weren't loved by scouts, but in the third round, these picks make sense. Jefferson could be a particularly good value if everything comes together as he matures. Walton is a well-rounded offensive weapon, presenting good value in the fourth round. I've been a fan of Harris since the fall. I suspect he'll be a very good reserve corner in time. Brown met a need to improve the depth on the defensive line, and could be a steal if he consistently applies his quickness and strength. Woodside, Taylor, and Tate were all excellent picks late in the draft, though I thought they might pick a tight end since Tyler Eifert has had injury issues

 Frank Schwab, Yahoo.com: B-. When you consider how the Bengals allowed their offensive line to fall apart, it’s hard to rip the pick of center Billy Price in the first. They just have to hope Price, who tore a pectoral muscle at the combine, is all the way back by the start of the season. They also picked up left tackle Cordy Glenn from the Bills in a pre-draft trade, moving back nine spots in the first round. Safety Jessie Bates should help at free safety right away. Defensive end Sam Hubbard and outside linebacker Malik Jefferson add athleticism to the front seven, though Hubbard’s lack of production at Ohio State is a concern. Mark Walton was presumably the highest player left on Cincinnati’s board when they grabbed him in the fourth, and Auden Tate is an interesting dart throw in the seventh. If one of the mid-round corners pans out, it’s helps a solid draft.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: C. The pick of Ohio State center Billy Price was a bit of a surprise since he is coming off a torn pec muscle suffered at the combine. He is a nice player -- one with a mean streak -- but it's risky. Second-round safety Jessie Bates will push for time as a rookie. Third-round edge Sam Hubbard was a solid player in college, but I think third-round linebacker Malik Jefferson didn't make enough plays at Texas. Keep an eye on fifth-round defensive tackle Andrew Brown from Virginia. He has a chance to be a nice inside player. 

Andy Benoit, SI.com: A-. For the Bengals, drafting an interior offensive lineman was like having terrible vision and then getting glasses—the need was so obvious, it was just a matter of what style they preferred. Billy Price will almost certainly start as a rookie, likely ahead of center T.J. Johnson. Cincinnati could still use a right guard ... too bad there wasn’t another Billy Price available in Rounds 2 or 3. The O-line must start generating at least SOME movement in the running game, and QB Andy Dalton is dependent on having a clean platform from which to throw because of inconsistent pocket mobility.

The Bengals restocked defensive depth in the middle rounds, drafting safety Jessie Bates, end Sam Hubbard and linebacker Malik Jefferson. That replenished depth is extra critical this year because every noted front-seven contributor’s contract, save for Vontaze Burfict’s, Jordan Willis’s and Carl Lawson’s, expires after 2018. Bates will replace Shawn Williams, who is better suited as a movable safety in sub-packages, but that transition may take a year to unfold, given that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s two-deep scheme places a lot of mental burden on safeties.

San Monson, and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: Average. Jessie Bates is one of few safeties who can hang with receivers in 1-on-1 situations, and he’s made a few spectacular plays when matched up in “quarters” looks. He’s also willing to mix it up in the run game, though he must do a better job of preventing big plays after missing 16 tackles on only 81 attempts last season. Sam Hubbard had a solid career at Ohio State, grading at 83.0 in 2016 and 80.8 last season. He’s done his best work in the run game as his best pass-rush grade of 79.0 came in 2016. Malik Jefferson started to live up to his five-star pedigree last year after struggling in his first two seasons. He ranked 14th in the draft class with a run-stop percentage of 12.1 percent, though he must cut back on the missed tackles after missing 36 on only 250 career attempts.

Mel Kiper, ESPN.com: B.  I could argue that I ranked another center higher than Billy Price where the Bengals took him at No. 21, but what I can't argue is that they had to get a starting center in this draft. And my evaluations of Price and Iowa's James Daniels were close, so this isn't a reach. Cincinnati had one of the league's worst offensive lines in 2017. It has already addressed left tackle with the addition of Cordy Glenn, and I thought the Bengals might try to add some more tackle competition for the right side. But Price is a good player who I thought would drop to Round 2 because of a torn pectoral muscle at the combine. Clearly Marvin Lewis & Co. think he can be a plug-and-play center, and they need it after Russell Bodine left this offseason.

After the first round, the Bengals did a good job not reaching and taking the best players available. Jessie Bates III (pick 54) is a good player with upside. I have compared Sam Hubbard (77) to Rob Ninkovich as a Swiss Army knife-type player with versatility. He wasn't as productive last season as I thought he might be. Malik Jefferson (78) is a true 4-3 outside linebacker who was inconsistent for the Longhorns. I heard from a few guys in the league before the 2017 season that he was a potential first-round pick, but I didn't see that on tape. Running back Mark Walton (112) had a disappointing 4.60 40 time, and an ankle injury hurt him last season. I wrote about cornerback Darius Phillips(170) during the season, and thought he was a potential playmaker who could play in the slot. He had three pick-sixes in 2016. I compared quarterback Logan Woodside (249) to Case Keenum, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him make this roster.

Overall, this Cincinnati class lacks star power, but it's solid.

Also, Joe Goodberry from The Athletic graded every single Bengals draft pick. His work is worth your time. 

Mo Egger

Mo Egger

Mo Egger delivers his unique take on sports on Cincinnati's ESPN 1530! Read more

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