Monday Morning Draft Hangover


It’s the morning after the draft, and new names are still rolling in. According to NE Patriots Draft, a New England fan site, the Bengals have added three more undrafted free agents since last night (scroll down to the previous post for their initial list). The newcomers are:

DT Ty Steinkuhler (Nebraska)
QB Billy Farris (CSU)
C Colin Dow (Montana)

Steinkuhler, a 280 lb. DT, was a 13-game starter for the Huskers last season, finishing with 48 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

The Sporting News War Room ranked Farris the No. 23 QB in the draft. A pocket passer, he only started his senior year, completing 61.5% of his passes for 2,934 yards, 20 TDs and 14 picks.

Dow was a three-year starter, playing both guard and center.

The Bengals traditionally don’t announce undrafted free agent singings until they have completed all of them, so all reports remains unofficial.

How is Bengaldom reacting to the additions of the last two days? Well, Cincinnati must have done something right. Even WDR issues grudging praise of this year’s draft. Whodeyfans is glad he renewed his tickets. The Blitz likes day 1 at least. OMCW gives them a B+ for day 2. Bengal Stripes thinks the Bengals drastically improved both their offense and defense.

And then there’s B.J., who takes a dump on the draft, dismissing the buzz it has generated as the usual sucker’s bet and calling it “a weak crop.”

As for me, I’ll stick with what I said last night: this draft is boom-or-bust. It will be up to the coaching staff to polish the first three picks into the Pro Bowl-caliber players that the book says they ought to be. Three or four years from now, we will look back on this weekend as either one of the best drafts in Bengals — and perhaps football — history, or a disaster of epic proportions.

This draft reminds me most of the 2003 and 2004 drafts. It brings to mind 2003 because the team had some similar choices, and similar luck, in Marvin Lewis’ first draft outing. Then, with the first overall pick, Cincinnati had to choose between Carson Palmer and Byron Leftwich. Like Andre Smith versus Eugene Monroe, Palmer was clearly the more talented guy, but their were questions about his intangibles. Was he really a leader? In the end, the Bengals shrugged off the doubts and took Palmer, which proved the right choice.

Then, in the following two rounds, they had guys with first-round grades unexpectedly slip. Eric Steinbach dropped to the top of the second in part because of the perception he was a guard/tackle tweener; this time, Rey Maualuga fell due to questions over whether he’s a three-down player. WR Kelly Washington slipped to the third on durability and motivation concerns, exactly why Michael Johnson was still available in the third this year.

In the end, ’03 worked out pretty well. Palmer and Steinbach both matured into top-flight players. Washington never lived up to his potential, but was a contributor. If the Bengals can get two out of three from this class, they’ll be in good shape.

This draft also reminds me of the ’04 debacle, but in a good way. They had 11 picks in 2004, too, and consistently reached in a obvious attempt to fill needs, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I recall ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reporting during the ’04 draft that the consensus was that the Bengals were taking guys half a round to a round early. The result was a hash of a draft that set the team back instead of moving it forward.

This year, the Bengals let the draft come to them, and consistently eschewed need if a better player was available. Good for them. This team isn’t so stacked that it can’t stand to improve just about everywhere, and so they just injected a ton of talent across the board.

It will take time and effort to bring that all out, so anyone expecting this draft class to work miracles this season is expecting a bit much, I think. But my gut says the Bengals got better yesterday.