The 2018 NFL Draft power rankings are starting to pour out, and the Cincinnati Bengals are not feeling the love after a good draft class.
The 2018 NFL Draft has concluded, and the Cincinnati Bengals filled many positional needs. Between the free agency period and the draft, there are plenty of new faces in the Bengals organization including players and coaching personnel. Even with the changes, it would seem that Chris Simms of Bleacher Report is not feeling as high on the Bengals as fans might like.
Simms posted a Post Draft Power Rankings article and had the Bengals ranking 20th in the league. The ranking was surprising when you read about what Simms said about Cincinnati being closer than people thought last year. He also mentioned that he would not be surprised if the Bengals made the playoffs this season. The most prominent obstacle would be within the division as he has the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens being what keeps Cincinnati lower in the rankings.
The Bengals have done nothing but improve this offseason in my opinion which makes this power ranking frustrating. Like everyone else, I don’t tend to take much from these power rankings, but I would have at least thought they would be in the top 15 of the NFL following this offseason. Between bringing in new coaches and schemes that look to improve this team and take it in a more aggressive direction, the team has filled most of the needs that made it struggle last season.
The most significant need was along the offensive line this offseason and Cincinnati has worked hard to improve in that area. Bringing in former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack was an excellent start to the process. The team then traded down in the first round of the draft to acquire left tackle Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills. With their newly acquired first round pick at 21 overall, the Bengals continued to add by replacing former center Russell Bodine with Ohio State center Billy Price. Just with their first-round pick, they added two significant upgrades to the offensive line that held this team back in 2017.
Fans were hoping for more additions through the draft but stepping back and looking at the situation and what they hauled in with their picks, I’m comfortable with what they got. Completely changing an entire offensive line is not going to happen in one offseason and it would be a cluster of a mess if they tried. I also have faith in Pollack to develop some of these young offensive linemen into starters better.
Cincinnati also addressed some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Grabbing Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates in the second round, which if you’re not convinced on him check out our film review on the young playmaker. Bates will add to what the Bengals can do in 2018 adding versatility to this defense and adding a ballhawk to the mix after only intercepting 11 passes total in 2017. They proceeded to add versatility to the defense by selecting Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson to the mix in the third round.
Hubbard will bring more pass rushing options to the defense after losing defensive end Chris Smith and add insurance if the team cannot re-sign Carlos Dunlap following 2018. Hubbard and linebacker Carl Lawson will be two versatile players likely to be moving around the defense and getting into the backfield on a consistent basis. Jefferson brings a linebacker with coverage skills and extremely high potential with some development at the outside linebacker position. Something the team has been searching for the last few years. Don’t forget the Bengals also signed last year’s tackle leader linebacker Preston Brown from the Bills in the offseason.
My favorite pick of the day three part of the draft was cornerback Darius Phillips. His ballhawk skills after moving from wide receiver to cornerback in college mixed with his kick/punt return specialties make him a valuable addition as well. I think he will be an immediate upgrade on special teams as he learns from the stable secondary already in place.
If the Bengals were closer than most people realized last season and only got better this offseason, I fail to see how they fall to 20th in the power rankings. I think Cincinnati is much closer to competing with the Steelers than the Ravens are in 2018 and have a good shot at the very least to make the wild card. There’s no reason this team shouldn’t be considered in the top 15 if you ask me. While there are question marks and a lot of moving parts, I think Cincinnati comes out looking much better come week one of the 2018 season.