This is not a sexy class, but it's solid throughout. Jonah Williams (No. 11) is a no-brainer immediate starter, either at guard or tackle. Germaine Pratt (No. 72) is a converted safety who will likely end up at outside linebacker in Cincy's 4-3. The versatility makes it good value. I didn't love Ryan Finley's tape as much as Todd McShay -- he gave Finley a second-round grade -- but Andy Dalton shouldn't be locked in long term, so this is another option for Taylor if Dalton underwhelms. To get Finley at No. 104 is solid.
Drew Sample (No. 52) is a really good blocking tight end, but even he didn't expect to go in the second round. That was high with more complete tight ends available.Renell Wren (No. 125) had an up-and-down career for the Sun Devils, but he impressed at the Senior Bowl and has some intriguing athletic traits. I'm intrigued by the Day 3 running backs with Trayveon Williams(No. 182) and Rodney Anderson(No. 211). Anderson is one of the most talented backs in the class, but he simply couldn't stay on the field. Williams is going to help spell Joe Mixon in the receiving game.Jordan Brown (No. 223) is a good corner for the seventh round.
Williams and Sample are the only surefire early starters, but there's some upside with Finley and the Day 3 running backs. This group will help Taylor navigate his first year on the job.
Apparently Bengals fans weren’t the only ones feeling unsettled about the team signing weekly bull rushing victim Bobby Hart at right tackle. With Jonah Williams now aboard, Hart can slip into a more-fitting backup role. It’s also possible Williams will first get a crack at guard, where Clint Boling the last two years has been so-so at best on the left side and where ex-Bill John Miller lacks twitch and quickness on the right side. This in mind, it’s possible that fourth round pick Michael Jordan could also compete for playing time inside.
Drew Sample’s addition presents an opportunity for more two-tight end sets, which is a clever way to diversify an offense that must start with the ground game. Sample is a noted on-the-move blocker, which will serve him well in new head coach Zac Taylor’s staple split-zone runs, where the tight end must work back across the formation to clean up a backside edge defender.
Staying with the theme of drafting in positions of need, the Bengals tabbed downhill thumping linebacker Germaine Pratt, who, given the team’s mediocrity at this spot, could immediately compete for a three-down role. And they took a quarterback (Ryan Finley), but waiting until early in Round 4 suggests this was with the backup job in mind, not Andy Dalton’s starting job. Dalton can be cut for $0 in dead money next year, when the draft is expected to offer better options under center.
Favorite pick: Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State
In a weak linebacker class, the Bengals needed to find an impact linebacker with three-down potential. And after both Devin White and Devin Bush went top 10, the Bengals were forced to wait. That patience paid off with Pratt in the third round. The former safety has terrific read/react quickness and should continue to get better in coverage.
Questionable pick: Drew Sample, TE, Washington
A top-10 tight end on my board, Sample was one of the few true “Y” tight ends in this draft class with his ability to block and run routes. I don’t question the player because I think he can be a solid NFL contributor, but I do question the value at No. 52.
Day 3 pick who could surprise: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
With seven picks on Day 3, why not take a flier on one of the most talented backs in this class? Injuries have unfortunately derailed Anderson’s career, but when healthy, he reminded me a lot of James Conner.
The Bengals helped their blocking issues further with Washington tight endDrew Sampleat No. 52. That seemed a little early for him.
It was evident coming in that the Bengals needed a starting linebacker. They got one at No. 72 with Germaine Pratt of NC State. He’s a close comparison toVontaze Burfict.
Cincinnati needed a quarterback and got one in NC State’s Ryan Finley. He’s accurate with otherwise average tools. But can he be anything more than a solid backup?
Using a fourth-rounder on QB Ryan Finley is interesting. The arrival of Zac Taylor, the team’s new coach, has made Andy Dalton’s job security a bit tenuous. The Bengals missed out on getting LB Devin Bush when the Steelers traded ahead of them in the opening round but added potential contributors in first-round T/G Jonah Williams, second-round TE Drew Sample and third-round LB Germaine Pratt.
Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 overall player in the class, offensive tackle Jonah Williams was a steal for Cincinnati at pick No. 11 in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. While many want to kick him inside to guard, Williams should have his chance to prove himself at tackle in the NFL after earning impressive run-blocking and pass-blocking grades as a three-year starter with ‘Bama split between right and left tackle. Williams’ high-end production should translate to the next level quite easily.
Duke Tobin does a good job every year collecting talent in the draft, and this year was no exception. Outside of the Sample value, the Bengals did very well for themselves – a nice mix of safe choices and upside picks. Finley might be Andy Dalton 2.0, but they got him in a good spot. Pratt and Wren will join the defensive rotation right away, and Anderson has starter ability if he’s healthy (and they can wait on him). An underrated haul.
OT Jonah Williams was an excellent pick who'll start right away. QB Ryan Finley could be groomed as Andy Dalton's eventual replacement. TE Drew Sample, DT Renell Wren, LB Germaine Pratt and G Michael Jordan should contribute as rookies. Keep an eye on RBs Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson.
The Bengals started with a bang with Williams, but after that, their picks to further usher in the Zac Taylor era were mostly unimpressive and uninspiring. Sample was a reach and they missed out on better linebackers.