Final 2014 NFL Draft Grades For Cincinnati Bengals


Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) raises his had before a play during the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Spartans beat the Wolverines 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL Draft has passed, and the work is beginning for the newest members of the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals added eight new players through this year’s selection process. Here are the final grades for those picks.

Round One-Darqueze Dennard: The Bengals needed a cornerback, and arguably got the best in the class in Dennard. He’s a physical man-to-man corner with good ball skills, and he’s also a nice contributor in the running game. He isn’t fast, but he rarely needs to be, as he knows how to use his body and positioning to take his man out of the play. Grade: A

Round Two-Jeremy Hill: After hitting a homerun with a second round running back last year, the Bengals went back to the well with Hill, a big athlete who should be an upgrade over BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He has the necessary size and speed to succeed, and he also catches the ball well. They could have gotten a running back later, but they certainly got better with the pick. Grade: B+

Round Three-Will Clarke: There was little doubt that the Bengals would add a defensive end in this draft, and they used their third selection on Clarke. Clarke is exactly the type of player they love: tall, athletic, and hard-working. He lacks the bend and fluidity to consistently get pressure, but the coaching staff feels they can get something out of him. He’s effective at getting his hands up in passing lanes. Grade: C+

Round Four-Russell Bodine: The Bengals traded up to get the immensely strong and experienced Bodine. The team needed to address the center position, and Bodine may start right away. He’s especially good in the run game, where he gets a chance to punish would-be tacklers. They have struggled at center in recent years, and are hopeful Bodine fixes it. The trade up may have been unnecessary. Grade: C+

Round Five-AJ McCarron: Many fans hoped the Bengals would take a quarterback early to compete with Andy Dalton, but the team showed its support for Dalton by waiting and taking McCarron late. The Alabama veteran has tons of experience and is solid, if unspectacular. He struggles with deep routes, but is accurate on shorter throws. He could be a quality backup and spot starter. Grade: B-

Round Six-Marquis Flowers: The Bengals have quite a bit of young talent at linebacker, but grabbed Flowers late in this draft. His raw athleticism is intriguing, but raw is the key word. He flies around the field, and is willing to hit, but he lacks the ability to read defenses and make the correct decisions. He has his work cut out for him to make the team. Grade: C-

Round Seven-James Wright: Wide Receiver wasn’t necessarily a need going into the draft, but the Bengals decided to add one late in the draft. Wright wasn’t on the radar of many teams, having not caught a single pass in 2013. Wright has nice size, and is athletic, but he’s probably just a special teamer for the time being. Grade: D

Round Seven-Lavelle Westbrooks: The draft started at cornerback for the Bengals and it ended there as well. The small-school prospect has obvious talents, but not much in the way of experience against big-time opponents. He’s strong and a terrific tackler, but will need time to learn the art of coverage at the NFL level. His aggressiveness can be a plus, if honed. Grade B-

Overall: The Bengals used their early picks to upgrade positions they consider key to the team’s success. They want to run the ball more effectively, and the Hill and Bodine picks signify that. Dennard is a huge talent, and they added some nice depth. Some fans weren’t fans of the overall draft, but it was better than many gave it credit for. Grade: B