If you thought that the Bengals absolutely had to take a highly touted running back in the draft, you might not share my opinion about how well the war room did this year. But I love drafting linemen. So getting three good ones in the first three rounds is a home run in my book.
The Bengals made clear statements with how they drafted. Statements I like.
1. We want to win in the trenches.
There is nothing sexy about linemen. They don’t make the ESPN highlight reel like skill players do. But they win football games. Controlling the line of scrimmage is how Paul Brown liked to play the game. And it still works.
By adding a tough, smart guard like Zeitler, Marvin is committing to the run. By taking run-stuffers in Still and Thompson, Marvin is continuing to define the Bengals with a fearsome D-line. They want to not only stuff the tough-running AFC North, but to also force Roethlisberger and Flacco into rushing decisions, forcing throws and making mistakes.
2. The O-line, not the RBs, was to blame for the poor running game last year.
Many fans felt that the Bengals needed to beef up the RB position more than just adding BJGE. You may be one of them. If you are, you likely feel that they made a mistake by ignoring RB until the 6th round. Then they took Herron, who will struggle to make the team.
By passing on RBs again and again, the war room made theiropinion clear that they are comfortable with the guys already on the roster. They blame the lackluster rushing attack in 2011 on the O-line… or maybe on Cedric Benson. They may well be right. Adding Wharton and Zeitler should allow Gruden to run through any gap, not just left (which opponents knew and were ready for in 2011).
3. The coaches have some kind of plan for the #2 receiver. I assume.
What that plan is, I still haven’t the slightest idea.
We were all concerned about who was going to take pressure off of A.J. Green this year. When the front office decided not to overpay for a #2, the lead candidate became either a troubled Jerome Simpson or an untested Armon Binns. Neither option allayed our concerns.
Sanu is more of a T.J. Houshmandzadeh-style possession receiver than a Chris Henry sideline threat. With Shipley, Hawkins, Gresham being joined by Sanu and Charles, the middle of the field is more than covered. Do they figure to let Jones push Binns for the #2 receiver? Gruden must have something in mind, but I’m having trouble guessing it.
4. Gruden wants receiving threats everywhere.
I did not see the selection of Orson Charles coming. At all. But he certainly seems to like the idea of a dual tight end threat. And as I just noted, he has amply covered the middle of the field. I doubt we will ever see fewer than four receiving options on the field now that Gruden will have a full offseason to implement his WCO.
The Bengals drafted a ton of value, which is earning them rave reviews for the weekend’s work. They got better at nearly every single position… except for linebacker. I don’t know who is calling the shots in the Bengals war room any more, but I like what they have done the past few years.