September 2, 2014

Cincinnati Bengals draft scenarios

 

With two days to the draft, I thought I would look at the different ways the Bengals could approach this draft. In reality the Bengals have a ton of needs that they could use their first 3 picks on.  Below, I will show three scenarios that could happen in the draft starting this Thursday.

 

Scenario 1 – Mike Brown gets his QB.

 - It is no secret, Mike Brown loves the QB position. He has demonstrated many times he buys into the hype and likes the flashy guys. Because of this I can see the Bengals taking a flyer on Cam Newton. (if he falls to the Bengals at 4 of course). If for some reason Newton is not available, I think the Bengals would possibly pick Blaine Gabbert to run the offense. I think because there will be no receivers worth the reach in the second round the Bengals will look at the defensive line. Here they could pick a guy like Marvin Austin from North Carolina. Then in round 3 I could see the Bengals looking into the wide receiver position. A guy like Jon Baldwin out of Pittsburgh could be available here or; (Randall Cobb, Kentucky) (Torrey Smith, Maryland), (Greg Little, North Carolina)

 

Cam Newton:

Strengths:
   • Prototypical height and great bulk w/ a large frame
   • Outstanding natural athleticism and is very smooth
   • Excellent arm strength and can make all the throws
   • Displays a nice throwing motion and quick delivery
   • Extremely elusive and will make plays with his feet
   • Is able to work outside pocket and throw on the run
   • Is strong and stands tall while draped by defenders
   • Very tough and will fight through pain and injuries
   • Ice water in veins; rises to occasion under pressure
   • Super competitive with air of confidence about him
   • A winner who has shown an ability to elevate teams
   • Still has a ton of upside and sky might be the limit

Weaknesses:
   • Product of system where he made one read then ran
   • Didn’t really read coverage’s / go through progressions
   • Raw footwork and operated primarily out of shotgun
   • A tendency to get sloppy with mechanics at times
   • Touch, timing and anticipation are all merely average
   • Marginal accuracy and struggles with the deep ball
   • Debatable instincts, awareness, vision, intelligence
   • Work ethic, leadership, maturity are question marks
   • Durability could be a problem due to his style of play
   • Concerns about where football is in list of priorities
   • Multiple off-the-field issues that must be investigated
   • Doesn’t have as much experience as you would prefer

 

Marvin Austin:

Strengths:
   • Good size, Carries his weight well
   • Can be disruptive with an explosive first step and can get off the ball quickly
   • Very strong upper body had 38 reps of 225 lbs. at the combine
   • Uses his hands well and can collapse the pocket
   • Good bull rush and spin move
   • Very solid versus the run
   • Can make plays all along the line of scrimmage
   • Selected All-ACC second team for the 2009 season

Weaknesses:
   • Takes too many plays off and can be a non-factor for long stretches of a game
   • Questionable motivation and competitiveness
   • Can be slow to locate the ball
   • A bit of a boom or bust prospect
   • Was suspended for the 2010 season for NCAA rules violation

 

Jon Baldwin:

Strengths:
   • Great height and bulk with long arms and big hands
   • Athletic with good speed and great leaping ability
   • Aggressive with terrific ball skills and body control
   • Vertical threat who can separate and stretch field
   • Strong, physical and knows how to use his big frame
   • Impressive catch radius and will make circus catches
   • Able to effectively get off the line and beat the jam
   • Runs hard and with some power after the reception
   • Durable w/ lots of experience versus top competition
   • Still has considerable upside to work with / develop

Weaknesses:
   • Inconsistent and won’t always play to talent level
   • Hands are erratic and will drop some catchable balls
   • Isn’t explosive with average acceleration and burst
   • Route running is lackluster and requires refinement
   • Not very elusive and won’t create in the open field
   • Is not nearly as good of a blocker as he should be
   • Questionable work ethic and not a great teammate
   • Immature with some off-the-field character concerns

 

Scenario 2 – AKA the most likely scenario

 - The Bengals believe the hype and take AJ Green at number 4. While this guy could be a great wide receiver, I have a hard time making this pick with the uncertainty at the quarterback position. If the Bengals make this move, I think they go QB in the second round. If I had to guess, the top three QB’s on the Bengals board at that time would be Christian Ponder of Florida St, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and Andy Dalton of T.C.U.  The Bengals may be forced to go with which one is left, but of the three they probably have them in the order I listed them. Then, lastly I see the Bengals going with possibly a running back in the third round. If they do, I think they select Ryan Williams out of Virginia Tech.

 

AJ Green:

Strengths:
   • Ideal height with super long arms and a large frame
   • Extremely smooth with amazing innate athleticism
   • A fast, long-strider who eats up ground in a hurry
   • Extraordinarily soft hands and outstanding ball skills
   • Great concentration and will make the difficult catch
   • Excellent body control and agility and a solid leaper
   • Aggressive and will really attack the ball in the air
   • Good route runner; knows how to get open / separate
   • Shows the ability to get off the line and beat the jam
   • Vertical threat who can get behind defenses downfield
   • Very tough and is not afraid to go across the middle
   • Runs hard and makes something happen after the catch
   • Superb effort as a blocker and more than holds his own
   • Good instincts and football IQ with a feel for the game
   • Smart, hardworking and earns the respect of teammates
   • Productive w/ lots of experience versus top competition

Weaknesses:
   • Thin build with plenty of room to bulk up further
   • Is not overly shifty or elusive in the open field
   • Not real powerful, must continue to get stronger
   • Minor durability concerns due to wreck less style

 

Christian Ponder:

Strengths:
   • Adequate height and good bulk
   • Above average athleticism
   • Extremely smart with a high football IQ
   • Good throwing mechanics and a quick release
   • Very accurate with terrific touch and timing
   • Nice footwork and able to buy time in the pocket
   • Decent mobility and can make plays with feet
   • Is accustomed to working from under center
   • Can read a defense and go through progressions
   • Hard working, tough, mature and a team leader
   • Lots of experience against top-notch competition

Weaknesses:
   • Arm strength is merely average
   • Struggles mightily with the deep ball
   • Decision making has been called into question
   • Will force things and needs to be more patient
   • Does not handle pressure in the pocket well
   • Durability and health are major concerns

 

Ryan Mallett:

Strengths:
   • Phenomenal height and bulk with a big, solid frame
   • Rare arm strength and can spin it with the very best
   • Polished mechanics and delivery with a nice release
   • Can fit ball in tight spots that most quarterbacks can’t
   • An accurate passer when given enough time to throw
   • Throws a great deep ball and is dangerous vertically
   • Excellent vision and is able to see the field very well
   • Extends plays and gets rid of ball draped by defenders
   • Physically tough, hangs in pocket and will take a hit
   • Was productive in Bobby Petrino’s pro style system

Weaknesses:
   • Absolutely melts at even the slightest hint of pressure
   • Footwork, mechanics and accuracy are inconsistent
   • An extreme lack of mobility and is basically a statue
   • Will lock on to targets and give up on progressions
   • Can be careless with ball and throw bad interceptions
   • Holds onto ball too long and doesn’t sense the heat
   • A tendency to crumble late in games in big situations
   • Leadership ability and maturity have been questioned
   • Dealt with injuries and durability could be an issue
   • Ran into trouble off the field and character is concern

 

Andy Dalton:

Strengths:
   • Adequate height with a thick, sturdy frame
   • Adequate arm strength to make all throws
   • Accurate with terrific touch and timing
   • Extremely smart with a great football IQ
   • Sound decision maker and cautious with ball
   • Mobile enough to extend plays with feet
   • Tough and durable with a ton of experience
   • Outstanding leader with a superb work ethic
   • Is confident, super competitive and a winner

Weaknesses:
   • Is not a great athlete
   • Delivery / Mechanics need tweaking
   • Will have to polish up footwork
   • Tendency to bird-dog targets
   • Struggles to throw on the run
   • Must adjust to a pro style system

 

Ryan Williams:

Strengths:
   • Natural runner with outstanding vision and instincts
   • Athletic with good quickness, acceleration and burst
   • Impressive balance, agility and change of direction
   • Patient but also very decisive and hits the hole hard
   • Tough, super competitive runner with good strength
   • Extremely physical and won’t shy away from contact
   • A low center of gravity and does not go down easily
   • Shows the ability to run inside and outside effectively
   • Powerful, keeps legs moving and usually falls forward
   • Soft hands and is a reliable receiver out of backfield
   • An adequate blocker who will put out maximum effort

Weaknesses:
   • Just average size and is not built like a workhorse
   • Lacks elite timed speed and isn’t a big play threat
   • Fumbled too much and must take better care of ball
   • Aggressive style leads to considerable punishment
   • Battled some injuries and durability is a huge concern
   • Limited experience and only one season of production

 

Scenario 3 – My Favorite.

 - Lets think about what it takes to win in the AFC North. It is not wide receivers. The Bengals need to play good defense and improve their run stopping ability. Adding another guy to the line with the 4th pick would make a decent line a good line. Nick Fairley and Robert Quinn should be available. If Marcell Dareus makes it to the Bengals I think they should grab him above the other two. Then in the second round I think the Bengals could address their QB situation with the list of quarterbacks listed in scenario 2.  The one guy I would hope they would consider here is Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. I have a feeling about this kid and even though the Bengals have the ability to ruin anyone’s potential, I think if realized, he could be a great quarterback in the NFL of today. (Where a QB needs to be an athlete as well as a passer). For the third round pick I would like the Bengals to improve the offensive line. A guy like Ben Ijalana out of Villanova who can play tackle or guard would be good.  I am always of the opinion that improving either line is a good thing.

 

Nick Fairley:

Strengths:
   • Very good size with long arms and a large frame
   • Explosive with excellent speed and a great burst
   • Athletic with good quickness, agility and balance
   • Fires off snap and will blow by offensive linemen
   • Able to penetrate and wreak havoc in the backfield
   • Employs wide array of pass rush moves / counters
   • Shows ability to avoid and disengage from blocks
   • Terrific range in pursuit and really closes in a hurry
   • Uses hands well and jolts with potent initial punch
   • A powerful tackler and will deliver the knockout hit
   • Violent, intense and plays with a nasty demeanor
   • Productive and excelled against elite competition
   • Still developing and has a lot of untapped upside

Weaknesses:
   • Motor runs hot and cold and will take some plays off
   • Can be overly aggressive and play is borderline dirty
   • Football IQ, instincts and awareness are questionable
   • Not particularly stout and just an average run defender
   • Gets tall which prevents from utilizing proper leverage
   • Doesn’t always play within scheme and responsibilities
   • Will have to get into the weight room and get stronger
   • Is immature with a work ethic that is less than ideal

 

Colin Kaepernick:

Strengths:
   • Excellent size with prototypical height and good bulk
   • Outstanding natural athleticism, speed and agility
   • Extremely strong arm and can make all of the throws
   • Elusive and a dangerous threat to make plays with feet
   • Escapes pocket pressure and makes throws on the run
   • Is competitive and a leader with a fantastic work ethic
   • Super productive and has a ton of playing experience
   • Might also be able to play another position in pros

Weaknesses:
   • Will have to refine footwork and throwing mechanics
   • Too eager to give up on a pass and take off running
   • Touch, timing and accuracy are all merely average
   • Takes chances and not always a great decision maker
   • Didn’t work under center or go through progressions

 

Ben Ijalana:

Strengths:
   • Excellent bulk w/ long arms and large hands
   • Superb athleticism, quickness and agility
   • Fantastic strength and extremely powerful
   • Stout at the point of attack and can anchor
   • Gets an outstanding push in the run game
   • Nimble feet to slide laterally and mirror
   • Displays the ability to recover when beat
   • Stuns opponents with violent initial punch
   • Capable of locking on and sustaining blocks
   • Range to work in space and at second level
   • Tough and will play through pain / injuries
   • Hard worker and still has considerable upside
   • Extremely durable with a ton of experience

Weaknesses:
   • Lacks the ideal height that you’d prefer
   • Struggles with speed rushers off the edge
   • Instincts and awareness are questionable
   • Must refine technique, hand use, footwork
   • Inconsistent pad level, leverage, knee bend
   • Trouble hitting moving targets in space
   • Not a finisher and lacks a killer instinct
   • Might be a bit of a positional in between player
   • Didn’t always face top-notch competition