It's a little too nice outside this morning to be sitting inside banging on a laptop, but alas, this is the life I have chosen.
Here's some stuff....
Before I get to some lingering Bengals draft thoughts and questions, which I'm sure you waited all weekend for, some stuff from this weekend you might have missed while having an actual life....
When the Bengals chose Billy Price last Thursday night, I wondered on Friday morning if they got the player right, but the pick wrong. I've since concluded that they got both right. I'm sure they'll be happy to hear this.
Sometimes, a process isn't worth making too complex. The Bengals needed a center, they drafted a center, and by all accounts a very good one.
Speaking of Price, I talked to his position coach at Ohio State on Friday. You can listen to that conversation here.
Now that you're all caught up on my weekend internet contributions, I'll dazzle you with some post-draft meanderings that I'm sure you'll find to be revolutionary.
The big takeaway is that the Bengals got deeper, more athletic, and more versatile on defense. The offensive line's de-evolution from a team strength in 2015 to what it's been over the past two seasons obscured the fact that the defense suddenly got old in 2016, and while young guys like Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, and William Jackson III added energy and productivity, they still needed more speed, more depth, and the kind of players that enabled Teryl Austin to expand the defensive playbook. In my very, very amateur view, they've done that. This makes me happy.
The emphasis on defense might have come at the expense of the offensive line, as they waited until the seventh round on Saturday to take someone named Rod Taylor, a guard from Ole Miss. The fact that they went in other directions is a little eyebrow-raising, given that the O-line was easily their most glaring weakness.
They could've taken Connor Williams from Texas in the second round, and put him in the mix to play right tackle. In fact, this is who I would've taken. But I don't have a draft board, and I've never scouted him, or interviewed him. And if they would've gone O-line with their first two picks, we'd all be wondering if they really could've afforded to wait until the third round to start working on the defense.
Marvin Lewis talked during the draft about how a team can't "fix" an entire offensive line in one offseason by adding players from the outside, which was an indirect reference to how he and the organization feel about new offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who was brought here primarily to get more out of players that Paul Alexander didn't have much success with. Pollack might actually be the most important figure not named "Andy Dalton" in the organization right now, given that any substantial improvement by the team probably can't happen unless incumbent offensive linemen improve, which can't happen, of course, if Frank Pollack isn't as good as his job as we hope he is.
I wish the Bengals would've addressed the offensive line more, but I'm very, very pleased with the players they did bring in, and after about round four, they were so down on the entire class of linemen, that I understand why they didn't want to reach.
And, you know, the whole thing about making the defense better. That's kinda important.
Absolutely earth-shattering analysis here, no?
What James Rapien is to John Ross, I'm going to be to running back Mark Walton. He's an elusive, Gio-type who plays faster than his disappointing 4.6 40-yard dash time. It's fair to wonder whether, with other team needs, it made sense to use a mid-round pick on a player who plays a devalued position that they're already pretty well-stacked at.
But Bernard has suffered two season-ending injuries, and if the plan really is going to be to have both him and Mixon on the field at the same time, then the usage rate for the third guy should increase as well. And if the offense is more creative than it was last season, who's to say that Walton can line up elsewhere besides the quarterback? I spent some time early yesterday morning watching Mark Walton highlights, and while I'm no scout, I felt good enough to send this tweet, which I'm sure you'll remind me of if Mark Walton ends up blowing...
Are you ready for a Sunday morning Bengals opinion?— Mo Egger (@MoEgger1530) April 29, 2018
(Opinion, not "hot take," because I actually put more than two minutes of thought into it.)
We're going to spend an insane amount of time in August talking about RB Mark Walton.
And for good reason.
Last fall, I stumbled upon one of those bad ESPN MACtion games that always seem to be played in crappy weather in front of about 32 people. Toledo was playing somebody. There was nothing else worth watching. I was bored. Until I started watching Logan Woodside. I was impressed enough that I texted a buddy of mine "Toledo's QB is kinda fun."
Now he's a Bengal, which is fine.
But my fear is that with QB perhaps emerging as a more pressing need a year from now, that the Bengals will stand pat at the position in the earlier rounds of the draft because they have Logan Woodside.
Quinton Flowers is a Bengal! I'm happy about this, because after rooting against him these last three years as he and his USF Bulls danced all over the Bearcats, I have a chance to root for him.
Also, he's an insanely athletic player, and very fun to watch. You know, when he's not torching your team.
And are you ready for this take? I say he plays football for the Cincinnati Bengals as a running back in a game that counts one day.
Also, this from College Gameday last season, is excellent.
It's not all draft...
The Reds played some decent ball over the weekend, winning two of three in Minnesota against the Twins, with yesterday's win inspiring this tweet....
...and this shirt.
When @MoEgger1530 needs a shirt...Mo gets a shirt! New Rigglemania Tee available only $18 for a limited time! Proceeds benefit the @RedsCommunity Fund. https://t.co/Ch5gANfvMX #Reds #Rigglemania pic.twitter.com/JYrpiWPd2e— Cincy Shirts (@CincyShirts) April 29, 2018
Here are some nice Reds thoughts: Tyler Mahle continues to make me think that, hey, the Reds have something to work with here. And the bullpen has been better than I think most people realize. Also, Jose Peraza seems like he's starting to get it.
Here's a not-so-nice Reds thought: I'm a little worried about Luis Castillo. Not panicked. Not concluding that he should be sold off for spare parts. Just a little worried. If you watched him on Friday, how could you not be?
The Indy fan lament all summer long should be about the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter of game seven, which was there for the taking with LeBron James on the bench. The Pacers should've won their series with the Cavs long before yesterday's game became reality, and even with LeBron being his typical superhuman stuff, they had their chances to seize control of the game throughout the afternoon.
Just as they had their chances to seize control of the series throughout.
But that three and a half minute stretch to begin the fourth quarter, with LeBron on the bench with cramps, was their chance to play from ahead in the final frame. Instead, the Pacers suffered defensive breakdowns, collapsed on offense, and watched as Cleveland's lead swelled to ten.
That wasn't the end of the game, of course. Indiana never wilted, and showed why they were the better team throughout the series. But as was often the case in the series, there was just too much LeBron, who was fantastic. Any team is going to be at least a little disadvantaged when James is on the court.
The problem for the Pacers is that they weren't advantaged when he wasn't.
NBA Guesses: Raptors over Cavs in 7. 76ers over Celtics in 7. I can't wait for these two series. Those two series in the west are already over.
Radio Show: Extra Innings tonight. I've got a big announcement with Lance at 5:30 on ESPN1530. It's nice out. I'm going to lunch.