Leading up to the draft everybody was expecting the Cincinnati Bengals to do an all-in draft for the upcoming season. And why not?
The gang is mostly back (minus the safeties and some depth players) for a team that was one drive short of another Super Bowl appearance. Joe Burrow is still on a reasonable contract (for now) and the Bengals have a year of growth for what is still one of the NFL's youngest teams.
What does all-in look like? Fans were sure they were going to collect some weapons at running back and tight end and also perhaps a road-grading offensive tackle or a super quick three-technique. What happened instead was another solid drive straight up the middle instead of swinging out of their shoes.
The good news is that swinging out of your shoes usually lands you squarely into the thick stuff and this draft is the Bengals trying to break 70.
The 2025 season looms large for the Bengals. Most of the starting defense is only under contract through 2024 and with Burrow, Chase, and Higgins extensions weighing down the salary cap there will not be a lot of money to sign our own talented free agents.
This draft was firmly looking ahead with an eye toward the best players available. With that context let's get to the grades.
R1: P28 - Myles Murphy, DE
With the 28th pick in the draft and a nightmare scenario of quarterbacks sliding and wide receivers not getting picked high, a lot of the Bengals' likely targets were picked off one by one. Targets such as Calijah Kancey, Emmanuel Forbes, Dalton Kincaid, and Jamyr Gibbs, were long gone before the pick came to the Bengals.
The tackle class had been picked over and only solidly round two guys were remaining. Dallas passed on what surely would have been a TE pick and instead went with Mazi Smith. It was all set.
Bengals fans had jersey orders ready in the cart with Michael Mayer's name on it. The pick came up and at least they got the initials right. As Roger Goodell announced "Myles Murphy, Defensive End, Clemson", I am sure there were some expletives being hurled.
Why was Myles Murphy the pick? He fits exactly what the Bengals look for in Defensive Ends from a size perspective (6'5", 274). He is fast (4.53 forty), has a great motor, and his attributes are usually the stuff that top-10 picks are made of.
Some analysts saw Murphy being drafted top 10, while others had him slipping. The Bengals obviously had him at the top of their board and jumped when the time came to pick him. Here is writeup from PFF.
"The potential to thrive in an every-down role in the NFL is ultimately what makes Murphy the more valuable player and worth top-10 draft capital. With just under two weeks until the NFL draft, it’s time to start giving the Clemson product his due as a top-two edge defender in this class."- Jonathon Macri, PFF
You can see the original article here.
He can help immediately as a pash rusher to be added into the rotation with Ossai, Hendrickson, and Hubbard. He has the size and athleticism to be kicked inside on passing downs taking the place of Ossai in those situations and should provide some good snaps in that role immediately.
This will pay off down the road when Hendrickson and Hubbard need to be re-signed. As was the case with Dax Hill last year, this is a pick for the future as much as for today. It provides some immediate impact and more long-term impact. With what was on the board this was a solid pick at the end of round one.