The 2017 NFL Draft has concluded and it’s a new day in Cincinnati. The Bengals added speed, speed and more speed. They’ll have a new look on the field this fall. Did the Men in Stripes do enough to compete again this season? Only time will tell, but there is definitely enough to be excited about the possibility.
When the Bengals added wide receiver John Ross with the ninth pick on Thursday night, they made a statement. What was that statement? We want to get faster. And that’s exactly what they did. As each round of the draft passed, it was obvious that athleticism was the focal point. Now, all of a sudden, the roster has gone from aging and losing a step to young, fast and potentially dangerous.
We’ll have to wait to see how this all translates to the field. But, there is certainly enough to be excited about. Now, I know there are still concerns about the offensive line. But I’ll be honest with you. There wasn’t enough talent in this draft to upgrade the blockers we already have.
Even the top guys in this class had as many question marks as the guys that are already here. This was simply a bad year to need the Big Uglies. However, the team did make moves to remedy that situation.
Looking at the offensive playmakers
If you look at the offensive players coming in, this roster is built for a quick passing attack which suits the Red Rifle’s strengths. We already know what we have with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. Wide receiver’s Tyler Boyd and Cody Core flashed enough to make you believe they can make a difference. Now, add Ross to the mix, beating defenses over the top, as well as what he can do after the catch. This guy isn’t just a straight line runner, he can run routes and has real ball skills. Trust me, he is Legit.
Then there is Josh Malone out of Tennessee. Malone is big and fast (4.4 forty at 6’3″) and will not be an afterthought. He will make a difference. This dude balled out for the Volunteers and has some serious skills.
Then there is the running game. Everybody knows about Joe Mixon and his past. But as far as on the field production, the former Sooner is big, strong and fast. He has the ability to make people miss and create yards for himself and can run routes like a receiver. If he can truly turn his life around, he can be one of the best running backs in the league.
When you add in Brandon LaFell and his veteran leadership along with Jeremy Hill and a hopefully healthy Gio, this offense has a lot of weapons that rival any team in the league, in terms of talent. Andy Dalton will have plenty to work with.
How about the defense?
The defense was a solid unit last season. However, the age was starting to show. Domata Peko and Rey Maualuga are no longer with the team and will be missed in the locker room. But, the youth that has been infused gives plenty to be excited about.
Andrew Billings and 2016 first rounder William Jackson come in this year ready to make their mark. Add to that Kevin Minter at linebacker and this defense is already upgraded from last year. But, the Bengals also add two draft steals to bolster the pass rush.
Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson were both expected to go in the 1st or 2nd rounds and the Bengals landed them in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Both guys were productive in college and are extremely athletic. Even as rookies playing spot duty, both guys should provide enough help to Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins to put some pressure on opposing QB’s early in their careers. The pass rush has been drastically upgraded.
This roster is now loaded with talent. The coaching staff has more than enough to be competitive this season. Of course, this all has to translate from looking good on paper to looking good on the field. I believe there is something to be excited about. Training Camp cannot get here fast enough. Who Dey!!!