NFL Draft grades and reviews continue to flow in, and the majority of them are very pleased with the Cincinnati Bengals draft class. They added several offensive weapons to help that unit catch up to the level the defense has played since defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer came to town.
One player in particular that Peter Smith of With the First Pick believes can have as a big an impact as any rookie this year is North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard, whom he believes can be the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Enter their second round pick, Giovani Bernard, the talented back out of North Carolina. Depending on the person being asked, Bernard was arguably the most talented back in the draft but he was certainly the best fit for what the Bengals wanted. Bernard is the prototypical west coast back as an all-around back with a good mix of power and speed. What makes Bernard special is his vision and balances, which are elite traits and those could carry him to a great career with the Bengals. He is also a big time threat as a receiver and gives Dalton an outlet to throw the ball on the third down as well as with screen passes, taking pressure off of him. It remains to be seen if they will allow him to do it in Cincinnati, but Bernard is also an accomplished punt returner and a threat in that aspect of the game as well. Now, the Bengals have what should be their franchise running back and a great fit most importantly in addition to a good value. With their offensive line and the overwhelming talent on offense, Bernard has a shot to be the offensive rookie of the year.
This is the highest draft pick the Bengals have spent on a running back since taking Michigan RB Chris Perry in the late first-round of the ’04 draft. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis still on the team, it will be hard for Bernard to get enough carries to have enough of an impact to garner a ROY award, but if he’s given a chance to make an impact on special teams as a return-ace, he’ll get ample opportunity to show he’s one of the most explosive play-makers in this draft class.