Marvin Lewis pulls no punches describing Vontaze Burfict’s play in college

When the Cincinnati Bengals signed Vontaze Burfict as an undrafted free agent everyone knew they were taking a gamble. And apparently no one knew that more than Marvin Lewis.

Lewis met with Burfict after the draft and shared his comments with the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“You weren’t in shape your last season at Arizona State. Get rid of the selfishness in your play. Learn how to bend you knees. Let us coach you and let’s see if you are what people thought you could have been.”

Lewis also stated that he’s excited about having Burfict in camp, but it’s clear he knows what he’s working with. Burfict is a headcase, and the Bengals are going to keep a close eye on his performance in training camp. There’s no denying his potential, but he has a long way to go and Lewis made sure Burfict was aware of his deficiencies.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals Comments Off

Draft Grades: Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals put together the best draft class, at least on paper, that I have ever seen in the nine years I’ve been covering the draft. Of their 10 selections, I gave a 3rd-round grade or better to eight players, and the other two received 4th-round evaluations. This was the best draft class of the year, and there isn’t a close second.

Dre Kirkpatrick was overrated by the media early in the draft process, which created the perception that his stock started to slip during the draft process. He’s not as physical as you’d like, and he’s still developing his coverage technique, but the Bengals have the depth at cornerback to bring him along slowly.

Kevin Zeitler was a reach in the 1st round, especially with Cordy Glenn still on the board. But he does have the ability to step into an immediate starting role at right guard.

Devon Still doesn’t necessarily fill a need, but was a great value pick for the Bengals in the 2nd round. He will back up Geno Atkins and should be used as part of the defensive line rotation from day one.

Mohamed Sanu is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft class and could win a starting job in training camp. Due to ineffective quarterback play at Rutgers, his role was limited to that of a possession receiver, but he has the size and speed to develop into more of a true No. 1. Obviously in Cincinnati he’ll always be the No. 2 behind A.J. Green, but he has more raw talent than most No. 2 receivers.

Brandon Thompson was purely a value pick, especially after they already picked up Still in the 2nd round. He’ll compete for playing time with Domato Peko and Pat Sims in the nose tackle role.

The hype surrounding Orson Charles was purely a media creation, so it was not a surprise to see him fall to the 4th round. And while I think he was one of the most overrated prospects in this draft class, he’s a solid pickup for the Bengals. He’s essentially an oversized receiver, which is exactly the role he’ll play in Cincinnati. He’s not a threat to Jermaine Gresham’s job, but they’ll find ways to work him into the game plan.

Shaun Prater will have to fight hard to earn a spot on the final roster, but could be helped if the Bengals decide to cut ties with Nate Clements. He has the skills to win a job, but the secondary is suddenly very crowded in Cincinnati.

Marvin Jones may prove to be the steal of the draft. He lacks elite athleticism, but makes up for by being one of the most efficient route runners in this year’s class. The difference between him and Sanu is minimal, and Jones may actually be more NFL ready.

George Iloka is built like a strong safety but tackles like a kicker, which lead to his fall. He’s a developmental prospect who probably shouldn’t see the field until he improves his tackling technique, but he definitely had value in the 5th round based on his raw talent.

Boom Herron is to running backs what Marvin Jones is to receivers. He’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest player on the field but he’s smart and gets the job done. The Bengals have a crowded backfield right now, so Herron has his work cut out for him, but don’t be surprised to see him receive some significant carries this season if he impresses during training camp.

From top to bottom this was the strongest draft class. The Bengals landed better players in the 5th and 6th round than some teams landed in the 2nd and 3rd. They upgraded their depth at multiple positions and are now poised to make a serious run at the Steelers and Ravens. If this class pans out as expected, there will be a new powerhouse in the AFC North within the next three years.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Draft Winners: Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals used 10 picks and managed to land eight players to whom I had given 3rd-round grades or better. This was truly an unprecedented haul for a franchise that needed to make a splash in order to compete with the Steelers and Ravens.


Dre Kirkpatrick adds impressive depth to the Bengals secondary

Looking at the newly revamped Bengals roster, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the depth at nearly every position. Most of the rookies brought in won’t play significant roles early on, but just having quality depth behind their entrenched starters will make a difference over the course of a 16-game season. You never know when someone will go down with an injury, and the Bengals now have the depth to fill holes as they arise throughout the course of the season.

With the help of this draft class, the Bengals should be considered legitimate contenders in the AFC North in 2012.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bengals Comments Off

Rounds 1-3 Winners: Cincinnati Bengals

I haven’t loved every pick made by the Cincinnati Bengals, but the class as a whole is a phenomenal haul for one of the up-and-coming teams in the league.

Dre Kirkpatrick gives the Bengals a very deep secondary, and he should compete for a starting job. It wasn’t necessarily a glaring need, but the value made it the right choice.

Kevin Zeitler was a reach in my opinion, but he will step into a starting role and help solidify the offensive line. He’s a power run blocker, which is the type of team the Bengals appear to be morphing into with the combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott at running back.

The additions of Devon Still and Brandon Thompson give the Bengals an extremely deep group at defensive tackle, which should allow them to use a rotation to keep every fresh. The Steelers, Ravens and even the Browns all feature power-running offenses, which the Bengals are now equipped to stop.

Mohamed Sanu was hurt by poor quarterback play at Rutgers, and his best football is ahead of him. He’s exactly the type of possession receiver the Bengals needed to pair with A.J. Green.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bengals Comments Off

Cincinnati Bengals select Devon Still, Grade A

The Cincinnati Bengals got an excellent value here with Devon Still, and added some much needed depth to the defensive line.

I wasn’t as high on Still as some, but in the late 2nd round he was well worth the pick and should play a significant role as part of the Bengals defensive line rotation. He’ll fit nicely with Geno Atkins and Domato Peko.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bengals Comments Off

Cincinnati Bengals select Kevin Zeitler, Grade C+

The Cincinnati Bengals already added guards Travelle Wharton and Jacob Bell this offseason, so I’m a little confused by the selection of Kevin Zeitler. Does he even have a spot on the first team offense?

On top of that question, Zeitler wasn’t even the top guard on the board. Cordy Glenn is more NFL ready and has more upside than Zeitler. I do think he can develop into a decent starter but I would not have spent a 1st-round pick on Zeitler, especially considering the other options available.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bengals 3 Comments

Cincinnati Bengals select Dre Kirkpatrick, Grade A-

I really like this pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dre Kirkpatrick has the ability to step into a starting role immediately, and gives the Bengals a very deep secondary.

He wasn’t as highly regarded around the league as most expected, but I had a solid 1st-round grade on him. He has the height to match up with the taller receivers in the league and can be valuable asset in the red zone for that reason.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bengals Comments Off

Draft Needs: Cincinnati Bengals

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Cincinnati Bengals [full archive here].

Season Recap: Good for Owner Mike Brown. When everyone was calling for Head Coach Marvin Lewis to be fired, Brown stuck with his man. The Bengals hit gold on their first two picks: AJ Green and Andy Dalton. The two rookies led the Bengals to the playoffs and both made the Pro Bowl. With two first round picks in the upcoming draft, Cincinnati will only improve in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: AJ Green is incredible and should be one of the top receivers in the league very shortly. Once teams began to double him, Dalton didn’t have many other options to throw to. Jerome Simpson made some highlight plays, but likely wont return due to impending drug charges. Kendall Wright or Reuben Randle would fit nicely in round one.

2. Running Back: The Bengals would like to find a star RB to complement Dalton and Green. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was signed, but I don’t believe he is that good. Lamar Miller would be a perfect fit and would bring a homerun threat to the young offense.

3. Strong Safety: A young safety to pair with Reggie Nelson would give the Bengals a very solid defense. Chris Crocker is getting old and Taylor Mays looks to be a bust. Mark Barron could be a nice option with one of the Bengals first rounder’s.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Bengals, Draft Needs - 2012 Comments Off

Could Bengals trade up for Luck?

Prior to the start of the season many believed the Cincinnati Bengals were a favorite in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They’re now 4-2, and would likely lose out on Luck even if they ended the season on a 10-game skid.

But could they still be in market for Luck?

Thanks to the Raiders’ generosity the Bengals now own two 1st-round picks in 2012 and could own two in 2013 if the Raiders make a deep playoff run. That would give them more than enough ammunition to move up to No. 1 if they want to get their hands on Luck.

Andy Dalton looks like a decent quarterback, but he isn’t Luck and he never will be.

Dalton has the potential to be a decent starter in this league, but he isn’t someone you build around. Luck can be the cornerstone of a franchise and if any team with even the slightest concern at quarterback has an opportunity to draft him, he could be worth selecting.

Ultimately Luck-to-Cincinnati is probably a long-shot, but it’s something the Bengals would be wise to consider.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Cincinnati Bengals

If the Bengals had a GM I’d say this was a make-or-break draft for him. Instead, it’s just another risky draft by Mike Brown and if it fails, well, what else is new. The Bengals took a lot of risks, but I give them credit for finally admitting the Palmer/Ochocinco era needs to end and moving on without them.

I like A.J. Green, but bringing in a highly touted rookie receiver without a proven quarterback is always risky. There’s no denying his raw talent, but this is a boom-or-bust situation for the Bengals. In their situation, I probably would have played it safe and selected Patrick Peterson.

I like Andy Dalton, and gave him a late 2nd-round grade, but I’m not sure I would want to bank on him as my franchise quarterback. He definitely has the ability to start in this league, but I think his ceiling is as a Trent Dilfer/Jeff Hostetler type quarterback. He’s the type of guy you won’t be embarrassed to start, but not someone you want to build around either. That said, he isn’t necessarily a bad option here. Palmer isn’t coming back and it’s not going to be easy to convince a quality free agent to come to Cincinnati. In the short term, he may be their best option and fortunately he comes at a relatively cheap price in the 2nd round.

I thought Dontay Moch would end up in Oakland, but Cincinnati was definitely the next most likely landing spot for him. Like Al Davis, Mike Brown loves taking chances on elite athletes without a true position (see: Michael Johnson). It will be interesting to see how they use him – either as an end or strong-side linebacker. He isn’t a great fit for either in a 4-3 defense.

Clint Boling is a great 4th-round pick. He probably won’t be able to crack the starting lineup as a rookie, but he has the ability to be Bobbie Williams’ eventual replacement at right guard.

Robert Sands fits into the same category as Moch – a freak athlete who may not have a position in the NFL. At 6’4″ he has rare size for a safety, but it’s a position where height can be a disadvantage. He does fill a need in Cincinnati, however, and may be given an opportunity to win the starting free safety job over Chris Crocker.

I love the selection of Ryan Whalen in the 6th round. His upside is limited because of his lack of speed and athleticism, but he’s a reliable receiver who could become a favorite target of Dalton’s if he’s given playing time early in his career.

Korey Lindsey had good value in the 7th round, but he’s going to have a hard time finding playing time in Cincinnati. They are extremely deep at cornerback and Lindsey may struggle to make the final cut.

Jay Finley‘s tenure in Cincinnati may be short as well. He’ll have an opportunity to earn a backup role, but if Cedric Benson re-signs the backfield will be crowded.

As a whole, this really was a boom-or-bust draft for the Bengals. As a result I can’t give them extremely high or low marks at this time. Three years from now we could look at this draft as a turning point for the franchise. Or it could be just another draft filled with high-profile busts.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Draft Grades - 2011 Comments Off