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NFL Cincinnati Bengals

Predicting the Impact of Every Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Draft Pick

Predicting the Impact of Every Cincinnati Bengals 2014 NFL Draft Pick

Darqueze Dennard Michigan State
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The Cincinnati Bengals addressed each of their biggest team needs during the draft but also mixed in some questionable picks that may result in zero impact at the NFL level. While the Bengals reached on a few picks and sometimes left fans scratching their heads, the 2014 NFL Draft will be looked back on as productive, although not quite as much as it could have been.

Here are my thoughts on how each of the Bengals’ draft picks will pan out.

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Darqueze Dennard Michigan State
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Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Darqueze Dennard Michigan State
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At No. 24 overall, Darqueze Dennard was a nice value pick for the Bengals who also filled one of their biggest needs at cornerback. Dennard can make an immediate impact on the field when the opposition is in three-wide sets as a nickel cornerback, and with excellent speed and coverage skills, he should take over at one of the starting corner positions in the next two years.

Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU

Jeremy Hill LSU
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Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU

Jeremy Hill LSU
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This pick is a serious head-scratcher. The Bengals had no need for a running back with Benjarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard on the roster. While I buy the argument for Jeremy Hill as BJGE’s replacement, this seems like a waste of a second-round pick. Hill will make an impact eventually, as he has the size (6-foot-2, 235-pounds) and skill to excel, but it won’t be anytime soon.

Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia

Will Clarke West Virginia
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Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia

Will Clarke West Virginia
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Will Clarke should be given an opportunity to produce early and he will likely do just that. Clarke is the type of long and rangy defensive end that can excel in a 4-3 front, but he must improve his pass-rush skills to make an impact for the Bengals. Clarke also has the versatility to line up at tackle where he started for West Virginia in 2013, recording six sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Will Clarke was a slight reach but fills a need.

Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina

Russell Bodine North Carolina
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Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina

Russell Bodine North Carolina
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Russell Bodine should be an immediate starter at center for the Bengals, who released former center Kyle Cook in the offseason. Bodine was arguably the strongest player in the draft after blowing away all combine performers in the bench press at 42 reps compared to the next highest at 36. Bodine plays with a mean streak and will finish his blocks. The Bengals should be extremely happy with this pick as Bodine takes over at center.

A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

A.J. McCarron Alabama
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A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

A.J. McCarron Alabama
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A.J. McCarron is a less talented version of Andy Dalton, so what was the point of taking him? If the Bengals were going to select a quarterback, they should have at least picked one with the upside to eventually unseat Dalton. While it’s possible that McCarron can do this down the road, it’s not likely.

Marquis Flowers, OLB, Arizona

Marquis Flowers Arizona
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Marquis Flowers, OLB, Arizona

Marquis Flowers Arizona
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Marquis Flowers was a reach in the sixth round as he was expected to be a priority free agent after the draft. The Bengals decided to make him a priority during the draft instead, and it may be due to Flowers' blazing speed from the linebacker position as he ran a 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash. At 6-foot-2, 231-pounds Flowers outgrew the safety position and unfortunately he plays like it on the field, not showing physicality or awareness.

James Wright, WR, LSU

James Wright LSU
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James Wright, WR, LSU

James Wright LSU
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James Wright filled a need for the Bengals after losing receiver Andrew Hawkins, but his real impact for Cincinnati will likely come on special teams. Wright was buried under a strong depth chart of wide receivers at LSU and embraced a role on special teams where his impact was felt. Wright has the size (6-foot-1, 201-pounds) and speed (4.46 40-time) to excel as a gunner on kickoffs and may eventually develop into a target on offense.

Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern

Lavelle Westbrooks 2014 NFL Combine
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Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern

Lavelle Westbrooks 2014 NFL Combine
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The Bengals needed to add multiple cornerbacks, but Westbrooks will simply hope to carve out an NFL career as a backup. Westbrooks uses his long arms to his advantage in press coverage and can help support the run, but he lacks size (5-foot-11, 186-pounds) or speed (4.68 40-time) to make much of an impact overall for the Bengals.