By Robb Hoff @NFLNostradamus on May 11, 2014
The Cincinnati Bengals scored well in the 2014 NFL Draft with the likes of CB Darqueze Dennard, Jeremy Hill, Will Clarke and A.J. McCarron. Here are the grades for the Bengals' draft picks.
The Cincinnati Bengals probably thought they would have to trade up to draft the cornerback who many thought was the best CB in the draft in Darqueze Dennard. The Bengals get an A+ for patiently holding their water in drafting this impact corner.
The Cincinnati Bengals got the thunder they wanted in RB Jeremy Hill to go with the lightning they already have in last year's second-round pick Giovani Bernard. Give the Bengals another A+ grade for this pick that should pay dividends for years to come.
The Cincinnati Bengals got the player they needed to cover the loss of Michael Johnson to free agency. Clarke isn't Johnson's replacement, but he does provide a rotational need that will free up DEs Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry to help fill Johnson's void. The pick may have come a round early, which lowers the grade to a still-solid B.
The Cincinnati Bengals uncharacteristically traded up to pick center Russell Bodine. While the Bengals have done wonders in recent years drafting and developing offensive linemen, such has not been the case with centers. This pick only cost the Bengals a sixth-rounder, but until Bodine proves he's more than just the second-coming of Eric Ghiaciuc, this pick deserves a D for the lost opportunity to pick a player with perhaps more impact.
The Cincinnati Bengals were wise in waiting until the fifth round to select a quarterback if they are truly intent on working out a deal with current QB Andy Dalton to make him the franchise QB for the long-term. McCarron may never set foot upon a football field as an NFL starter, but the Bengals deserve a B for drafting him and ensuring that the only kind of media circus that the team will have to handle this year involves Katherine Webb.
The Cincinnati Bengals lost a key part of their nickel defense when nickel linebacker Taylor Mays was lost for the season. Marquis Flowers has a good shot to make the team as a hybrid nickel linebacker in the mold of Mays and could even fill a void as a backup safety and backup weakside backer. The Bengals get a B for drafting a potentially important player this late in the draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals knew that a seventh-round pick has an outside shot at making their perennial playoff-caliber team. WR James Wright will likely stick as a practice squad player but could get a shot at the opening game roster if injuries force the need. The Bengals get a C for this safe pick that could have little or no relevance going forward.
The Cincinnati Bengals addressed their most pressing cornerback need in the first round with Darqueze Dennard, but a seventh-round flyer on Lavelle Westbrooks of Georgia Southern could pay some dividend. Although relatively slow-footed (4.63 in the 40-yard dash), Westbrooks might find a roster spot as a special teamer who can backup at slot corner or free safety position. Grade this pick a C.
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