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Jason_Bengal_Fl

End of Season Positional Analysis

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Posted (edited)

This is my first positional review for the 2017/2018 off season.  This is my assessment of need at each position, with an acknowledgement of how the Bengals operate.
 
Quarterback
There has been some speculation among fans and some of the local media talking heads that Dalton may be cut or traded, and/or the Bengals may draft his replacement early.  I personally don't think so.  Especially if Marvin Lewis is retained. And now with the 12th pick I don't think any of the "we can't pass on that guy" QBs will be available in 1.  I do think AJ MaCarron has played his last game as a Bengal.  My hope is that he is designated a RFA, the Bengals put the second round tender on him and are able to get a 2 for him. Driskel has some nice physical tools, but I don't think they are ready to trust him with the keys if anything should happen to Andy.
Need: Yes, unless something unforeseen happens that keeps AJM in stripes I think there is a need to draft a backup QB.  Or perhaps sign a veteran free agent. How early will depend on who is available, how high a pick they can get for AJM and if they fill other needs in free agency.
 
Running Back
Mixon looks like a future star.  Gio is a great third down/CoP back.  Jeremy Hill is gone.  They seemed to like Tra Carson, and Brian Hill performed well in limited opportunities.  What they do with Ced Peerman will be interesting to watch.  As for fullback they seem happy enough with Hewitt and occasionally Uzomah in the role.  I would like to see them bring in a true FB, but I doubt it happens.
Need: None.  They tend to draft BPA, so I won't rule out taking one, but it won't be for need.  Especially if the current staff is retained.
 
Wide Receiver
AJ Green didn't have a great season, especially later in the year, but he is one of the best in the game.  Boyd disappeared for much of the year and was a disappointment, but he showed enough promise as a rookie, and late this season I think they will count on him in 2018.  I am still excited for what Ross could bring if properly used.  Malone has a ton of upside.  Lafell is decent, but hopefully Ross or Malone can take over the #2 role.  Erickson plays well when given the chance.  Core was supposed to be improved but never did anything as a WR this year.  But played well enough on special teams I think he will be kept.
Need: IMO, as of now we do not have a true #2 WR.  Plenty of candidates but no one proven that is "exciting".  I could see them looking at a free agent upgrade to LaFell as insurance but unless it's a BPA pick I don't think they draft one.
 
Tight End
Kroft was solid once Eifert went down, and he made some plays.  But he isn't a top end TE who is going to "scare" anyone.  Eifert's injury history is horrible.  And that back injury is at least career altering if not ending.  I'd be willing to offer him a team friendly 1 year contract with incentives if he'd take it.  Will someone offer more?  Will someone gamble on a multi-year deal?  Hewitt is more of an H-back and rarely used as a receiver.  CJ Uzomah has not developed as I had hoped but he could stick around as a developmental 3rd TE.  
Need: I think there is need.  Especially if they want TE to be a dynamic part of the offense.  And he would really help Dalton.  The year Dalton had a healthy Eifert he was an MVP candidate.  There are not many Gronk/Eifert/Kelce types in this draft, but there are a few good ones.  If they want to use a second round pick on one. If they get one for AJM and sign a free agent O-lineman I would seriously consider it.  If they can't get one of the top TEs I might use a late pick on a blocking type.
 
Offensive Tackle
I was hopeful that Ced O and Fisher would develop into good players.  Needless to say that did not happen.  The 2 prime backups are old and on the downside of their careers.  Fisher's medical condition makes him a huge question mark.  There is a chance the procedure "fixed" him and he could develop into a good player.  Or it could end his career.  He certainly cannot be counted on.
Need: Dire.  I would draft the best one available in 1 even it it means a little bit of a reach.  And I would draft another one by the end of 3.  And/or sign a free agent who isn't 90 years old and hurt all the time.
 
Guard
Boling is good enough at LG that it's not a need.  I was not impressed with Hopkins, at least early.  Westerman and Redmond played capably the last 2 games.  None of them are "studs" but I think they were good enough to be capable if tackle and center (up next) are improved.
Need: Minor.  I would still consider drafting a big body mauler at RG if one is available and BPA but I think they are adequate if the rest of the line is improved.
 
Center
Bodine has been a disappointment.  He is also a free agent.  Let him go.  TJ Johnson is an adequate backup.  
Need: HIGH.  High enough that I would consider Price in 1 with a trade back a few spots IF the top OTs are gone.  I would certainly take one in 2.  If a good free agent is available I'd look there too.
 
Defensive End
Michael Johnson is nearing the end of his career, but he seems to have found a role as a part time end/nickel DT.  Carl Lawson if nothing else is a great 3rd down nickel rusher.  Carlos Dunlap is one of the best LDEs in the game.  Jordan Willis showed some promise.  Chris Smith showed some flashes, but did very little late as Willis and Lawson developed.
Need: Depth.  Because of other, more pressing needs, I would not draft one before the 4th round (unless something stupid happens, like Chubb is there at 12), but a late round depth pick is a possibility.  Or, again, a free agent.
 
Defensive Tackle
Geno is a top 2 or 3 DT in the league.  Sims was ok, but is a free agent.  Billings didn't show as much as I hoped, but hopefully another year and he improves.  He certainly has the physical tools.  Ryan Glasgow had a nice rookie year and is a capable backup 3T.  Did Tupou play at all?
Need: Mild.  Depth at least if Sims is not re-signed.  Again, I would not take one early because of other needs, but a mid to late round pick on a 4-3 NT would be on my radar.
 
Linebacker
Burfict is the heart and soul, and extended at the start of the season.  Minter was a disappointment, and is a free agent.  Vigil was up and down.  Evans has some nice physical tools.  Rey isn't someone I would want playing starters snaps, but is adequate as "give a guy a rest" backup and a good special teams player.  I think a starting 3 of Burfict/Evans/Vigil is good enough.  
Need: It would be nice to add a "stud" MLB, but the O-line need is too big to even think about LB in the first couple of rounds unless we sign a free agent or 2.  I still wouldn't take one in 1.
 
Cornerback
William Jackson may now be the best CB we have had in a long time.  DPI Kirkpatrick is capable when he has the right matchup (a big WR who isn't a burner).  But he also just signed a big contract extension and isn't going anywhere.  I think he's ok as a #2 CB.  Dennard had his best season as a pro and I think will get an extension.  Shaw was something of a disappointment.  Adam Jones is at an age where he is best in limited snaps so he can stay healthy.  He has 1 year left, and Mike Brown loves him so I don't think he's going anywhere.
Need: Minimal.  As a friend who played football likes to say you can never have too many fast guys and fat guys.  So a late round depth pick will always be in play.  Then again, it is an even numbered year, so if Denzel Ward is available......     :woot:            ??         ;)
 
Safety
Iloka and Williams have developed into a reliable pair of starters.  While neither one is a "center fielder" FS, Brandon Wilson could develop into that.  Clayton Fejedelem has developed into a solid backup/teams player.  
Need: Minimal/depth.  I have seen mock drafts that have us taking a safety in 1, but that's not happening.  If it was going to happen they would have taken Hooker last year.
 
Kicker
Bullock wasn't an all pro by any stretch, and a lot of people were upset we kept him over Elliot, but he made a higher % of kicks, and made the only 50 yarder he was allowed to attempt. Jonathan Brown is on the PS, and everything I hear is his leg is huge.  
Need: Not huge.  But if Daniel Carlson is there with our comp 5 (for Whit) I'd think long and hard about taking him.  He is considered an even better prospect than Elliot was.  He was the #1 kicker last year until he decided to return to Auburn.
 
Punter
Kevin Huber had a really good year and is under contract.
Need: None.
 
Longsnapper
Clark Harris has been invisible as a snapper.  Which is exactly what you want.  He's a solid teams tackler too.
Need: None.
 
Returner
Erickson was not as good this year as last, but he is good enough.  And there are other guys on the roster who can also do the job.
Need: None.
 
Coaching Staff
Outside the scope of this review.  But let's be honest.  If Marvin leaves the top external candidates probably won't get a look.  Simmons and Guenther would at least get interviews, and if we went internal I would not object to Simmons, especially if he could bring in quality coordinators.  My guess is Marvin may be back and a few, but not all of the assistants.

Edited by Jason_Bengal_Fl

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I agree with almost everything you wrote.

8 hours ago, Jason_Bengal_Fl said:

Kevin Huber had a really good year and is under contract.

Almost everything.  Huber is a UFA this offseason.  They have to resign him or bring someone in.

 

8 hours ago, Jason_Bengal_Fl said:

Guard
Boling is good enough at LG that it's not a need.  I was not impressed with Hopkins, at least early.  Westerman and Redmond played capably the last 2 games.  None of them are "studs" but I think they were good enough to be capable if tackle and center (up next) are improved.
Need: Minor.  I would still consider drafting a big body mauler at RG if one is available and BPA but I think they are adequate if the rest of the line is improved.

It's pretty huge that Westerman and Redmond played the last two games and played well.  Guard went from being another "dire" need, to just a minor to moderate need.

 

8 hours ago, Jason_Bengal_Fl said:

Center
Bodine has been a disappointment.  He is also a free agent.  Let him go.  TJ Johnson is an adequate backup.  
Need: HIGH.  High enough that I would consider Price in 1 with a trade back a few spots IF the top OTs are gone.  I would certainly take one in 2.  If a good free agent is available I'd look there too.

It's unfortunate that FA is before the draft.  Unfortunate because i think there's a good chance they resign Bodine since they don't have another center they consider good enough to play.

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I really think center, tackle, tight end and linebacker are the only positions a rookie could come in and make a big impact. Sure, a stud DE or safety would find a spot, but those positions could also stand pat and be OK.

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Hard to argue with any of that.  Give me Orlando Brown in round 1 for either RT or LT, a free agent to play the other tackle, and Billy Price in round 2 (the guy is going to be another Whitworth in the locker room wherever he goes) and i'll be happy as a dog with a bone.

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Based on the love Price has been getting, I expect him to be a first round guy. At this point I would be shocked to see him at our second pick. 

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I think you guys are under rating the need for a DT opposite Geno.  Sims, Billings, and Glasgow aren't great and are Ok rotational guys.  If there is a run on OTs before we pick in round 1, I'm all for taking Vita Vea over a LB...

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I think another high quality dt would be very useful to the defense, but I can't call it a greater need than linebacker where we have only one player that you can trust and he misses a lot of games.

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34 minutes ago, Beck Bristow said:

I think another high quality dt would be very useful to the defense, but I can't call it a greater need than linebacker where we have only one player that you can trust and he misses a lot of games.

The way I look at it, the better your DL the easier of a job the rest of the defense has (LBs, CBs, S).  Same with the OL.  A great OL can make a QB and RB look better, provide more time for receivers to get open etc...  Build the trenches and then suddenly the rest of the team looks much better...

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1 hour ago, TheVillain112 said:

The way I look at it, the better your DL the easier of a job the rest of the defense has (LBs, CBs, S).  Same with the OL.  A great OL can make a QB and RB look better, provide more time for receivers to get open etc...  Build the trenches and then suddenly the rest of the team looks much better...

So vea can cover a RB or TE out of the backfield or across the middle?  because he isn't getting to the QB.  

 

I agree that a great DL can mask certain things, but out LBs are beyond masking tape.  heck, gorilla tape won't do it either.

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15 minutes ago, INbengalfan said:

So vea can cover a RB or TE out of the backfield or across the middle?  because he isn't getting to the QB.  

 

I agree that a great DL can mask certain things, but out LBs are beyond masking tape.  heck, gorilla tape won't do it either.

Vea can beat one on one better than Sims, Billings, or Glasgow.  If there's pressure up the middle, it will force the QB off of their spot.  For QBs like Wilson, Rodgers, Wentz, it probably won't have as much of an effect but for the majority of QBs it will. Also by not allowing the QB to step up in the pocket, it helps the DEs get more sacks.  Right now teams double Geno and occasionally will chip/help on Lawson.  They'll keep doing that in 2018, but with Vea and Dunlap they can make them pay.

Also IMO any LB we draft will still be behind Burfict, Vigil and Jordan Evans.  But a DT can immediately step in and start next to Geno.  Call it a pipe dream...xD 

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5 hours ago, TheVillain112 said:

I think you guys are under rating the need for a DT opposite Geno.  Sims, Billings, and Glasgow aren't great and are Ok rotational guys.  If there is a run on OTs before we pick in round 1, I'm all for taking Vita Vea over a LB...

I’m hoping for more e development from Billings, but if that doesn’t happen I’m willing to take a DT high next year. But they HAVE to fix the O-line this year. 

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3 minutes ago, Jason_Bengal_Fl said:

I’m hoping for more e development from Billings, but if that doesn’t happen I’m willing to take a DT high next year. But they HAVE to fix the O-line this year. 

I'm with you on OL being priority #1.  I guess I just disagree with everyone else on what priority #2 is.  Everyone (and you guys are probably right) think it's LB, while I think it's DT.  Probably because I have a man crush on Jordan Evans still...

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