Bengals: Grading every AFC North team’s 2022 draft
Sure was nice to draft late on Thursday night, wasn’t it? In fact, I didn’t even see who the Bengals took at 31 until Friday morning. Too late for this guy to stay up!
Well, if I HAD stayed up, pretty sure I would’ve been yelling at the television for Daxton Hill.
Hill had been projected by many to be a top 15 pick, as the second-best safety in the draft. However with the lust the rest of the league showed trying to find the next Ja’Marr Chase, by swiping a record number of receivers in the first 20 picks, many good defensive players such as Hill fell to the back half of the draft.
Hill fits perfectly into Lou Anarumo’s scheme — Versatile, fast, physical. Hill can play either safety or corner and can nickel blitz as well. He’s absolutely perfect pick at the end of Round 1.
So what do you do when you can’t get a first-round, true corner? Draft one in Round 2!
Again the Bengals grab a fast, versatile player for a secondary that shows numerous looks and requires versatility in Nebraska corner Cam Taylor-Britt. The Nebraska product is a hard-nosed, lunch pail type that will leave everything on the field and never takes a play off.
The Bengals got a safety that can also play corner in Round 1, then a corner that can also play safety in Round 2. See a trend here?
Third-round pick Zachary Carter, the defensive lineman from Florida, brings an interesting skill set. Despite being labeled a “tweener”, he is quick and powerful enough to get a push on the inside in clear passing situations. He may need to beef up and work on technique to contribute to stopping the run, but he was productive in the SEC, which is an intangible that can’t be overlooked.
After revamping three-fifths of the starting offensive line in free agency, the Bengals brought in Cordell Volson in the fourth round from North Dakota State. Despite being a small school, NDS plays a pro-style system, and Volson has plenty of experience, rarely missing a game in his college career.
Volson is an old-school type player that isn’t just chiseled weight room muscle, but rather a guy that is strong from inside out from a lifetime of training “Rocky” style by swinging sledgehammers and hauling rocks around. Volson will be immediately in the mix with Jackson Carman for meaningful snaps or even a starting spot.
In Round 5, perhaps as a sad farewell to Jessie Bates, the Bengals again selected a speedy safety in Tycen Anderson. They liked Anderson enough to trade up eight spots for him, as he can immediately contribute on special teams, and should be in nickel packages. Anderson is also a leader, as he was one of Toledo’s team captains, and could project into a solid contributor just in time for the departure of Bates in 2023.
Rounding out, the Bengals selected Jeffrey Gunter from Coastal Carolina at EDGE in the final round of the draft. Gunter is a high motor guy with a somewhat limited skill set, think Margus Hunt, But if he can show enough to make the rotation, he has enough raw skills to contribute as a situational rusher.
Does anyone besides me see the trend? The first two drafts under Zac Taylor were spend free agency dollars on defense, and draft offense. This year was spend dollars on offense, and draft defense.
This had the feel of a very intentional draft to get Lou Anarumo hand-curated players that he can stick all over the field while employing his hybrid defense that has been proven can be very, very effective when the pieces are in place.
That’s a wrap on the 2022 draft Bengal fans. Only time will tell what the actual grades will be, but if I am even close to correct we should be celebrating another possible AFC championship later this season!
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