As we continue our team by team draft recaps, today we land on the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though they didn’t draft any big name offensive fantasy weapons, I really liked their draft. They found value with nearly every selection, especially through round four.
Round one, pick 21- Cedric Ogbuehi, Tackle
It was a little surprising Ogbuehi went in the first round but not because he didn’t deserve it, but because he tore his ACL in the Aggies’ bowl game against West Virginia. Going to Cincinnati, a team with established veterans at both tackle positions, will allow the 6’5”, 306 pound lineman to rehab and potentially redshirt his rookie season. He’ll provide depth all across the line and could replace Andre Smith at right tackle as soon as next season.
Round two, pick 53- Jake Fisher, Tackle
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Fisher was the “best player available” on the Bengals’ draft board. Similarly built to Ogbuehi at 6’6” and 306 pounds, he surprisingly slipped into the late second round. A key cog in Oregon’s warp speed offense, Fisher will be a big time boost to Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill in the run game. His ability to shed blocks and get into the second level is well above average. Barring injury, he’ll spend his rookie year as a rotational lineman while he hopefully adds some size in the weight room. He’s already been taken under the wing of Andrew Whitworth, the man he’ll most likely replace after this season.
Round three, pick 85- Tyler Kroft, Tight End
For someone I didn’t know or hear much about before the draft, Kroft has drawn some pretty impressive comparisons by respected draft analysts. Greg Cosell describes him as “Zach Ertz with more competitiveness as a blocker.” Lance Zierlein compared him to Travis Kelce. The Bengals are not going to get stuck without a viable option at the tight end position like they did in 2014 when Tyler Eifert went down with an arm injury in week one. They were forced to move forward with the lukewarm meat sack known as Jermaine Gresham. Kroft has the all-around skill set to be a dominant in-line blocker but also contribute in the passing game. Without an injury to Eifert, however, Kroft isn’t really fantasy material except in the deepest of leagues.
Round three, pick 99- Paul Dawson, Linebacker
Landing in Cincinnati was perfect for both Dawson and IDP leaguers. Personally, Dawson has a reputation for being a bit of a knucklehead. He was constantly tardy at TCU and rubbed too many people the wrong way. With Marvin Lewis’ track record of getting the most out of players like Vontaze Burfict, Ahmad Brooks and Odell Thurman, Dawson is in the best possible hands to succeed.
The best case scenario for Dawson’s IDP outlook would be for Burfict, who is recovering from multiple knee surgeries, to start in the middle over Rey Maualuga so he could start at WILL, his natural position. With A.J. Hawk now also in the mix, Dawson might not make an immediate impact but remains a hot dynasty IDP asset.
Round four, pick 120- Josh Shaw, Safety
Whether you remember him or not, we all know who Josh Shaw is. He was the USC player who heroically jumped from a second story window to save his drowning nephew only to find out he made the story up and was actually evading police. He possesses good enough ability to stick around in the NFL for quite a while, mostly on special teams. He’ll make a bigger NFL impact than in fantasy.
Round four, pick 135- Marcus Hardison, Defensive Tackle
A JUCO transfer who played his final two seasons for the Sun Devils of Arizona State, Hardison is going to need at least a year of NFL weight training before making a real impact. Lucky for him he’s buried on the depth chart behind Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims. In a perfect world, the Bengals coaching staff would see enough from him in camp to cut ties with Sims. Hardison is name to monitor for the future but not someone worth investing in currently.
Round five, pick 157- C.J. Uzomah, Tight End
At 6’5” and 265 pounds, Uzomah is another big body to go with Eifert and fellow rookie, Tyler Kroft. He possesses the ability to move around the formation and line up at multiple positions. Think about Mohamed Sanu in a tight end’s body. Much like Sanu, Uzomah won’t ever be a reliable fantasy player but will flash from time to time.
Round six, pick 197- Derron Smith, Safety
Smith is an interesting prospect for the Bengals. He’ll undoubtedly spend his rookie season contributing mostly on special teams but could eventually replace the similarly undersized Reggie Nelson down the road. He can play anywhere in the secondary but will struggle with the big bodied tight ends of the NFL. His 13 interceptions over his sophomore and junior seasons highlight his ball hawking skillset.
Round seven, pick 238- Mario Alford, Wide Receiver
Alford has elite game changing speed and definitely brings an element to the Bengals they haven’t had since Chris Henry was with the team. Coincidentally, Alford also wears the #15 jersey. If he can make the team, he could have some long term value but is as raw as they come. Normally, a speedster like Alford would make his name on special teams but with Adam “Pacman” Jones already being one of the best in the game even that will be difficult.
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