Draft Review – Cincinnati Bengals

by Tommy Lawlor  –  http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Cincinnati Bengals

1 – WR A.J. Green – 6’4, 211 – Georgia
2 – QB Andy Dalton – 6’2, 215 – TCU
3 – LB Dontay Moch – 6’1, 248 – Nevada
4 – OG Clint Boling – 6’5, 308 – Georgia
5 – S Robert Sands – 6’4, 217 – West Virginia
6 – WR Ryan Whalen – 6’1, 202 – Stanford
7 – CB Corey Lindsey – 5’11, 194 – Southern Illinois
7 – RB Jay Finley – 5’11, 203 – Baylor

The Bengals landed elite WR A.J. Green with their 1st round pick. He can be the foundation of their receiving corps for years to come. The Chad Johnson era is just about over. TO isn’t coming back. There are some other pieces in place (Shipley, Simpson), but Green has the potential to be a Pro Bowl player. He can be a difference maker and that’s important for a team like the Bengals that mainly wants to run the ball. They need impact plays from the passing game when they do throw.

Green is a complete WR. He has good size. He’s a good athlete. He didn’t blow people away at the Combine, but his athleticism shows up on gameday. Just put on the Colorado game and you’ll see how gifted he is. Green is also a skilled receiver with excellent hands. He can stretch the field vertically. He can catch short throws and be a possession type of receiver. Green has good RAC ability. He can also help the Bengals in the Red Zone. Green caught 9 TDs last year in less than a full season. He had 23 TD catches in his career.

Green is somewhat like Chad Johnson in terms of skill set. Both have good size and strength. They can be physical. Both guys have excellent body control that helps them to run good routes. Green should thrive in the NFL. The big question is what kind of QB play he’ll have to help him out.

That leads us to 2nd round pick Andy Dalton. He was a great player for TCU, but running an NFL offense is a whole other challenge. The Bengals loved Dalton and think he’ll be a franchise QB for them. I have my doubts about Dalton. His intangibles are through the roof, but I’m not as confident about his ability to be a top shelf passer in the NFL. He thrived in TCU’s spread offense. That involved a lot of short throws and also a very good running attack.

Adjusting to an NFL offense will be a challenge for Dalton. It doesn’t sound like the Bengals are going to pursue a veteran QB. That means Dalton will be the starter right away and have to learn on the fly. He’ll be throwing the ball to an okay group of WRs, but the most talented player will be his fellow rookie AJ Green. RB Cedric Benson is a free agent. Re-signing him should be a priority so that Dalton has a strong running game to help him out.

I think Dalton was drafted too early, but taking him in the 2nd round was reasonable. There was pre-draft speculation that he might go in the Top 20 picks. That seemed insane to me. Listen, you can’t help but love Dalton as a person. He’s absolutely the kind of guy you want running your offense and representing your organization. I just have some questions about whether he’s able to be a high quality starting QB in the NFL.

Cincy went for a defensive player in the 3rd round. They grabbed LB Dontay Moch from Nevada. Moch actually was a DE in college, but at 6’1, 248 will need to shift to LB in the NFL. He is a very gifted athlete and should be able to make the transition. He has great speed and that can help him as a LB playing more in space. Moch was a force off the edge at Nevada. He racked up 25.5 sacks in the last 3 years. He was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. Marvin Lewis has done a great job of developing LBs going back to his days as a positional coach with the Steelers 20 years ago. If he thinks Moch has what it takes to make the transition to LB, it is hard to dispute that. Moch definitely has the physical ability. Now he’s got to develop the skills. He’ll benefit from the teaching of LBs coach Jeff FitzGerald. Moch can contribute right away as a STs player and situational pass rusher. Adjusting to LB could take a year or two.

I was surprised to see OG Clint Boling fall all the way to the 4th round, where the Bengals snatched him up. I thought he could go as early as the late 2nd round. Boling isn’t great in any way, but is a pretty complete prospect. He is versatile, having started at both G and T for Georgia. He has plenty of experience as well. Boling has good size at 6’5, 308. He’s not athletic enough to be a regular starter at OT in the NFL, but could fill in there if needed. He’s got the potential to be an outstanding G. Boling is a quality pass blocker, but also has the strength and tenacity to be a good run blocker. He was very impressive at the Senior Bowl. I think one thing that hurt Boling’s value was how much he moved around at Georgia. He basically played everywhere but Center. That kept him from becoming a force at any one position. Excellent pick. Good player and very good value.

In the 5th round the Bengals rolled the dice on a talented Safety, taking Robert Sands from West Va. Sands feels like a typical Bengals pick. He has all the potential in the world, but didn’t consistently play up to that level in college. He’s huge at 6’4, 217. Good athlete. Made a lot of plays in 2009 (5 INTs), but wasn’t as productive in 2010, only 1 pick. Sands has the physical ability to be a good NFL Safety. I wonder if he has the instincts and the discipline. He never showed much feel for the game when I watched tape of him. Safety is a position that requires instincts. His tackling needs to be more consistent. Like so many young players, Sands has fallen in love with big hits. That’s great when they work, but not so much when you miss. Sands left WVA after his Junior season. That’s too bad. I think another year of playing could have really helped him. Sands very much feels like a boom or bust pick.

Cincy added another WR, selecting Ryan Whalen in the 6th round. Whalen was a good player at Stanford, but never impressed me as an NFL caliber prospect. In the last 2 years combined he was 82-947-3.  Sure, Stanford is a running team, but only 3 TDs in 2 years?  Whalen does have good size at 6’1, 202. He is skilled. Ryan runs good routes and catches the ball well. He could be a #4 WR and STs player. I just don’t see much more than that. He isn’t a great athlete. He isn’t a guy that is ideal in the slot (quick with RAC ability). Ryan feels like a possession receiver and not much more. He did play in a pro style offense at Stanford and that will help his transition to the NFL. He is a high character guy and maybe the Bengals value having a receiver like that. They took him at a place where taking chances on guys makes sense. We’ll see if Whalen is a better NFL player than I think.

The Bengals had a pair of 7th round picks. First, they chose CB Korey Lindsey from Southern Illinois. Good pick. There was pre-draft talk that Lindsey could be as high as a mid-rounder. He was a very good player for SIU and NFL teams were impressed. The Benglas brought him to Cincy for a pre-draft visit so this was a player they had targeted. Lindsey was a I-AA All American. He had 14 career INTs. Lindsey likes to play off and then break on the ball. Jonathan Joseph does that a lot now for the Bengals so you can see why they liked Lindsey. Korey had a hamstring injury in the offseason that kept him from giving teams a full workout. I think not knowing just how athletic he is caused him to fall a bit. Normally you focus on the game tape, but with kids coming from smaller schools and not facing NFL competition, that can be tricky. You really want a good time on those prospects.

Finally the Bengals took Baylor RB Jay Finley. I also liked this pick. Finley has the kind of size I like in a RB, 5’11, 203. He’s not so big that he makes for an easy hitting/tackling target, but he is big enough to deal with LBs when he’s got to run over them or try to block them. Finley runs in the 4.5 range which is solid speed for a RB. Finley only started a handful of games in his first 3 years. He had a breakout Senior season. Finley ran for 1,218 yards and 12 TDs. He delivered his share of big plays and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Finley was a good backup prior to 2010. He had 2,660 yards for his career and averaged 5.6 ypc. He’s the kind of hard-working overachiever type that can be a good role player in the NFL, if not something more.

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