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Did Bengals 2015 draft derail Cincinnati

tsteffen
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Jake Fisher #74 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to stiff-arm Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers while carrying the ball during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Jake Fisher #74 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to stiff-arm Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers while carrying the ball during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs consecutively for five years until 2015. Was the 2015 draft what derailed the Bengals playoff runs?

The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs five consecutive years dating from 2011-2015. Then came the 2015 NFL Draft and it seems that draft class might have derailed the streak by Cincinnati. The team went to the playoffs in 2015 but has missed out during the last couple of seasons. Could a poor draft have derailed Cincinnati?

Pete Prisco of CBS wrote an article going back over the 2015 Draft and looking at the grades they gave teams then and what it amounted to be three years later. In 2015, Cincinnati was given a B+ for grabbing offensive linemen that would develop and replace aging veterans. I still think this was a bad move considering they were a piece or two away from winning a playoff game. Now, CBS has given that draft class a D which seems still pretty lenient.

The Bengals doubled down on offensive tackles with first-round Cedric Ogbuehi and second-round Jake Fisher. Neither player would contribute that season and would fail to show any promise years later. Cincinnati already had a star tackle in Andrew Whitworth who was getting older but was still playing at a top level. Instead of re-signing him last offseason, the Bengals decided to go with his replacements and boy was that a mistake.

Ogbuehi has been benched after playing both sides of the line the last two seasons and Fisher has been better than Ogbuehi, but still nothing promising. In 2017 alone, Cincinnati’s offensive line gave up 158 pressures ranking 28th in the league as a unit. The team has elected not to pick up Ogbuehi’s fifth-year option meaning he will hit free agency following the 2018 season. Maybe sooner if we are lucky.

My biggest problem with this draft class is that the team had been to the playoffs only to lose in the first round for four straight seasons and they didn’t address what they needed to help get them over the hump. They chose players that would take a couple of years to develop to replace their best offensive lineman. Someone, please explain to me why this would make sense.

Do you remember when the Bengals offensive production dropped off? It was right after wide receivers Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones left via free agency. That was the 2016 offseason which means instead of drafting players that would contribute even the following year to make up for losses at positions of need; they chose to reach on tackles that were never anything to get excited about. They also passed up on edge rushers which were another need that season.

None of the 2015 draft class is starting for the Bengals in 2018. Tight end Tyler Kroft is arguably the best pick in that draft class. The other third-round pick that year was linebacker Paul Dawson who was a complete miss, and then fourth-round cornerback Josh Shaw has only started 14 games in his three seasons with the club.

Related Story: Revisiting the 2014 draft class

What would have happened if the Bengals had addressed immediate needs in 2015 instead of developmental projects they reached for? Considering they had what it took to make the playoffs four years consecutively leading up to this draft, would it not make sense to find players that would help you break that one and done losing streak? Or even players that would keep you getting back to the playoffs? Instead, the Bengals have suffered two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs.

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