Cincinnati Bengals’ 5-Year Draft Review

by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern

The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the better teams in the AFC the past few years making the playoffs four straight seasons. However, the Bengals have failed to win a single game in the playoffs over this stretch. Much of the Bengals recent success can be attributed to the young players they have selected in the past five years. Although they have found some NFL caliber players in the past five years, Cincinnati has drafted their fair share of non-factors as well.

It’s hard to debate that the top pick the Bengals have made in the past five years is grabbing Geno Atkins in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Atkins has been one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL over the past five years and has made the Pro Bowl in 3 of the last 4 seasons with the exception being 2013 where he missed half the season with an injury. Atkins has been one of the better value picks of the last five years and will be anchoring the Bengals defensive line after signing a five-year extension in 2013. Another pick that has paid big dividends is their 2011 1st round pick A.J. Green. Green, like Atkins, has been one of the best players at his position since coming into league. The former Georgia Bulldog has made the Pro Bowl annually and the Bengals hope he will be their featured receiver for many years to come. The Bengals also found a nice number two receiving option in the 2012 draft in Mohamed Sanu. Sanu has been a solid contributor at receiver along with Green the past two seasons and will be expected to do the same in 2015. The Bengals also had success with their 2010 1st round pick Jermaine Gresham and seem to have found his suitable replacement in the 2013 draft in Tyler Eifert. Gresham had a very successful stint with the Bengals over his five-year career including two Pro Bowl selections. Eifert made a solid contribution in his rookie year but missed the entire 2014 season with an injury. Eifert will be the starter in 2015. The Bengals have also found arguably the best young one-two punch in the NFL at the running back position in the last two drafts. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, both 2nd round picks, have made huge contributions at running back in their time with the Bengals. Hill looks to be a star in the making and was one of the best running backs in the second half of 2014. Both players are expected to be huge for the Bengals in 2015.

Cincinnati also had their fair share of misses in the last five years. The biggest name of all is wide receiver Jordan Shipley. Shipley was a 3rd round pick in 2010 but an injury halted his career. Shipley was released after only two seasons following an ACL and MCL tear during the 2011 season. He was released during the preseason of the 2012 season. Due to their large amount of draft picks, the Bengals have had a lot of players that never really made an impact with the team. Although there are too many to name them all, players like Brandon Ghee, Roddrick Muckelroy, Dontay Moch, and Orson Charles did not make a huge impact for the Bengals. One player that has not made an impact but will get a chance in 2015 is Dre Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick, a 1st round pick in 2012, has shown flashes of his potential but has not demonstrated consistent starter ability. He will get a big chance to shine in 2015, as he will be a starting cornerback for the first season of his career.

A player that belongs is his own category as he is no where near a bust but needs to be better is quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has started every game for the Bengals the past four seasons and has led them to four straight playoff appearances. The problem with Dalton is consistency as he has been great in some instances and awful in others. Dalton has been a solid regular season quarterback with some solid performances but has failed on the big stage the past four seasons in the playoffs. If the Bengals can get Dalton clicking when it counts, they could possibly make a run to the Super Bowl.

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