NFL Cincinnati Bengals

Grading the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2013 NFL Draft

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Grading the Cincinnati Bengals' 2013 NFL Draft Choices

Bengals Draft Grade
Frank Victores - USA TODAY Sports

It seems that the drafting skill of Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has been leading up to this year. Starting in 2003, Lewis has hit a few rocky patches in his drafts such as 2005, drafting only three players that ever started for the Bengals for a total of five seasons between them. Since 2009, however, Lewis and the Bengals have started showing improvement, culminating this year, in what seems like the Bengals' best draft in at least 15 years.

It's still early of course so we will have to wait and see what happens, but suffice to say that the Bengals have done exactly what they needed to do. Making sure that the future of their offense (and their quarterback) is secure while drafting defensive players at every necessary position was something that they managed to do, all the while getting some great late-round steals right when people (including myself) thought that they were making mistakes. It seems that all the while, they knew exactly what was to happen.

Although they have not drafted as many starters as most teams try to do, looking at their draft results it seems that it was never their intention. In the past the Bengals had a tendency to draft players that they wanted to immediately start, and this often did not go the way they hoped. Not so this year, however. The Bengals are clearly happy with the majority of their starters and backing them all up with some decent depth could ensure playoffs for years to come and possibly a Super Bowl appearance in the near future.

Overall Grade: A

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Round 1: Pick 21 - Tyler Eifert

Tyler Eifert, Round 1
MAtt Casshore - USA TODAY Sports

Excellent choice in the first round. Taking the best remaining player on the board and taking a tight end to cause mayhem to the NFC North next season was a great choice for the Cincinnati Bengals. Tyler Eifert joining up with Jermaine Gresham next season will be a great two tight end set and could be the key to to a Super Bowl season in 2013.

Overall Grade: A+

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Round 2: Pick 37 - Giovani Bernard

Giovani Bernard - Pick 37
Bob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have made a good choice of running back by choosing Giovani Bernard. He is excellent in open field and constantly pushes for the extra yard after a tackle, so he should be able to do the running back job in Cincinnati some justice next season. In just two seasons with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Bernard put up almost 3,500 total yards and 31 touchdowns at an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Those are definitely ideal numbers when a running back is looking to transition to the NFL, and it's easy to see why the Bengals chose him ahead of the other running backs.

Although he’s not known for his pass catching in the same way running back Montee Ball is, Bernard has put up 752 receiving yards and six touchdowns, almost twice as many receiving yards as “The Law Firm” BenJarvus Green-Ellis has in his entire career. This will come in very handy for the Bengals next season, as quarterback Andy Dalton prefers the short pass. Being able to dump the ball off to Bernard who can then open up the field will be a huge help next season.

Overall Grade: A+

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Round 2: Pick 53 - Margus Hunt

Margus Hunt - Pick 53
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

With a vertical leap of 34.4″ and his freakish strength (38 bench press reps) added with his excellent speed, Margus Hunt will definitely be a threat to any line next season. He will be a great addition to the already quarterback hungry defensive line team of Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins. Over the course of his college career, Hunt has amassed some 112 tackles and 16.5 sacks on his way to earning first team All-Conference USA honors.

Hunt has a few weaknesses that the Cincinnati Bengals will need to work on in the offseason. He often has problems changing directions after his initial jump from the line due to his size, and because of this mobile quarterbacks and faster running backs will not have have as much of an issue breaking away from him as they would with some of the smaller defensive ends.

The only real problem with this pick is that the Bengals had other areas that they needed to cover before they picked up a defensive end, particularly at safety. Overall Grade: B+
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Round 3: Pick 84 - Shawn Williams

Shawn Williams - Pick 84
Paul Abell - USA TODAY Sports

After a great junior campaign in 2011 hauling in four interceptions as well as ten passes defended and 72 total tackles, Shawn Williams was considered to be one of the NCAA's top safeties going into the 2012 season. However, his stock dropped slightly in 2012 and he didn’t manage to get any interceptions in his senior year, but solidified himself as a hard hitter racking up 98 total tackles in 2012.

A Speedy 4.46 second 40-yard dash helps him to maintain a line with receivers, usually getting close enough to hit them hard as they catch the ball and a 36″ vertical leap helps with this too.

Definitely the best safety left on the board at this point, Williams will likely be an immediate starter in the Bengals' secondary as the team was in desperate need of finding someone to play alongside Reggie Nelson since the beginning of the off season. Overall Grade: A

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Round 4: Pick 118 - Sean Porter

Sean Porter - Pick 118
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

It was quite clear from the get go that the Bengals would draft a linebacker at some point in the draft — it was just a matter of where. Many analysts and writers were convinced that it would be in the first or second round of the draft, but after signing former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison last week, the buzz was that they no longer needed to get one so early and would instead add depth to the position.

That is exactly what they did by adding Sean Porter to the mix in the fourth round. Porter is an effective pass rusher and has great speed in the open field that comes in very handy when he steps out to cover a slot receiver. He is easily able to move from blocking the run out to zone coverage when necessary, and despite his size (6-foot-1, 229 pounds), he has proven in his senior year that he is highly capable of covering a tight end too.

There was no need for the Cincinnati Bengals to draft a linebacker early, so fourth round was a great choice to add a future linebacker to work with veteran Harrison. Overall Grade: B+

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Round 5: Pick 156 - Tanner Hawkinson

Tanner Hawkinson - Pick 156
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the Cincinnati Bengals slightly wavered from the excellent decision-making they’ve shown thus far in this draft by taking University of Kansas guard Tanner Hawkinson. Hawkinson is still a decent choice for the Bengals as he has the quick feet and hands to lead runs. He can help out zone blocking and has the decent height to be able to keep pass rushers at bay. Only being a guard for a year and still going in the fifth round shows that in the future he could be a star offensive lineman.

The Bengals had more pressing matters to take care of than to draft a work in progress, but they have definitely drafted the future of the position with Hawkinson. Overall Grade: B

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Round 6: Pick 190 - Rex Burkhead

Rex Burkhead - Pick 190
Brad Barr - USA TODAY Sports

I don't have much to say about Rex Burkhead other than Brian Leonard 2.0

Overall Grade: B

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Round 6: Pick 197 - Cobi Hamilton

Cobi Hamilton - 197
Beth Hall - USA TODAY Sports

Stuck at the back of a depth chart of excellent wide receivers for his first three years, Cobi Hamilton did not get his opportunity to prove that he is an excellent receiver until his breakout senior year, when he caught passes totaling 1,335 yards and five touchdowns. Even while at the end of the depth chart, Hamilton was able to show his skill by putting up over 500 yards in both his sophomore and junior years. With 18 career touchdowns already under his belt, Hamilton will make the ideal candidate for a developmental receiver and possibly a future depth chart topper with the Cincinnati Bengals.

An absolute steal in the sixth round as he was on most boards for the fourth. Overall Grade: A+

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Round 7: Pick 240 - Reid Fragel

Reid Fragel - Pick 240
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

I was somewhat annoyed when the Cincinnati Bengals selected OG Tanner Hawkinson in the sixth round instead of Reid Fragel, but to be able to get him in the seventh round is a great pick and frankly nothing short of surprising. Fragel will add depth behind Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland, both very capable linemen that have played key roles in the Bengals’ winning seasons over the past few years. Even though Fragel is a late-round pick (which are often considered picks to just add depth), his enormous size and quick hands could allow him to quickly climb up the depth chart.

Great choice late in the seventh round and could be a future starter. Overall Grade: A

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Round 7: Pick 251 T.J. Johnson

T.J. Johnson - Pick 251
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Standing at 6’4 319 lbs, T.J. Johnson has a lot of starting experience and has not had any issues with making calls on the offensive line where necessary. Thanks to this leadership he was named to the Coaches All-SEC second-team. However, Johnson has two major issues. When the rush comes in towards him, he often panics at the initial release and often gives away a lot of penalties for holding when he goes to grab them anywhere he can.

I don't think that even more depth was necessary with the 7th round pick. Although this was still a good pick, there were better players left on the board. Grade: C+