The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to rebuild and infuse their team with more talent. When looking at the roster, this is a team that has more talent than many will give it credit for as a whole. With players like Tyler Boyd, Jessie Bates, Geno Atkins, and more, this team has some pieces to be a surprise contender in 2020. With what they added in the 2020 NFL Draft, how did the Bengals grade out this year?
Who did the Bengals draft?
Round 1, Pick 1: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Round 2, Pick 33: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Round 3, Pick 65: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
Round 4, Pick 107: Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
Round 5, Pick 147: Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame
Round 6, Pick 180: Hakeem Adeniji, IOL, Kansas
Round 7, Pick 215: Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue
Best Pick: Joe Burrow
This one is just too obvious. After his breakout season at LSU, where he had one of the best college football seasons in recent memory, Joe Burrow found himself as the top pick in this year’s draft and for good reason.
Burrow has an advanced mental game with great eye manipulation mixed in to move defensive backs off their spots. In terms of accuracy, Burrow is one of the best that has come out recently. He is not generally accurate; he is “precisely accurate” and puts the ball on the money more often than not. Under pressure, he is cool, calm, and collected.
The ability he has to work out of the structure of the play to make magic happen with his legs is another quality that Burrow brings to the field.
This is a slam dunk pick for the Bengals, and they made the right call and now have their franchise quarterback, who was my 3rd overall prospect in the class.
Biggest Value: Akeem Davis-Gaither
Davis-Gaither should have been off the board early on day two, but to get him on day three is highway robbery by the Bengals. After having a lackluster linebacker group last season, the Bengals added three linebackers this draft season, and Davis-Gaither is the best of that bunch.
With excellent instincts, athleticism, and coverage ability, Davis-Gaither is the complete package that the NFL looks for in its modern-day linebackers. Even when coming downhill against the run, Davis-Gaither is slippery and avoids blocks with ease.
He showcases nice bend to duck around those blocks and get skinny. On day three, the Bengals found a legitimate starting linebacker, which should make them extremely excited. This was a great pick by Cincinnati.
Biggest Reach: Tee Higgins
The Bengals had pretty good value across the board. There was not going to be an egregious reach, but if there is a reach, Higgins fits that bill mainly because there were better receivers on the board. From Michael Pittman to Laviska Shenault, the Bengals passed on more steady, dependable, and dynamic weapons to pair with Burrow.
Higgins is a nice contested catch guy who has some pretty good ball skills, that much is evident, but he lacks a lot of top traits that make a receiver great in the NFL. It starts with the athleticism. Higgins did not test at the Combine, but at his pro day, he put up dismal numbers.
On tape, he lacks quickness, long speed, and explosiveness to separate and be a genuine vertical threat. Also, Higgins is not going to do much after the catch. So, while Higgins is an excellent contested-catch receiver, the NFL values separation more than ever, and that makes this poor value and a reach given other receivers on the board.
Biggest Sleeper: Markus Bailey
This is a top-100 player that the Bengals stole in the seventh-round. In terms of the draft, it does not get much better than that. After missing 2019 due to a Torn ACL, Bailey fell largely due to medicals, but he is legit on tape.
Bailey’s range, instincts, and sure-tackling nature all flashed against even the top competitors within the Big Ten. He was flying over the field against Ohio State and looked like a legitimate day two linebacker prospect who, if not for injuries, would have been picked around there. Bailey will push to make this roster and could be a potential starter with his skill set.
Cincinnati Bengals Draft Grade: A
This has to be considered a massive success for the Bengals. With no particularly bad picks, the Bengals may have very well just added up to five starters in this draft class. They got their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow to lead them into the future. Then, by selecting three good linebacker prospects in Logan Wilson, Davis-Gaither, and Bailey, they have turned their linebacking corps into a strength.
Hakeem Adeniji has upside to be a starting guard in this league. Khalid Kareem, from day one, is an impact run defender with juice and upside to be a starter as a base defensive end. This is an excellent step forward for the Bengals. As such, they get a solid A for this draft.