Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft 1.0

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft
Photo Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer

The unofficial first day of NFL free agency was a busy one for the Cincinnati Bengals. Looking at the moves the team made (along with the news that C.J. Uzomah has agreed to sign with the Jets) I thought I’d turn to the PFF Mock Draft Simulator and take a shot at a seven-round Cincinnati Bengals mock draft.

I tinkered with the defaults, adding one click to the Public vs PFF Board, the Care for Positional Value, and Randomness. Let’s see what we we can come up with for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft First Four Rounds

First Round (Pick 31): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida All the worthy tackles were off the board with the 31st pick. If I wanted to, I could have traded the pick – but I didn’t. Elam is a physical corner who can learn from Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Eli Apple. It is never bad to have depth on the corners.

Second Round (Pick 63): Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky Kinnard is listed as a tackle, but he could play guard as well. Give Kinnard a shot at tackle and consider him insurance at guard.

Third Round (Pick 95): Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State With Uzomah leaving for New York, tight end suddenly became a position of need. Is this a reach? Not necessarily. Ruckert is a good blocker and has a knack for getting open. His presence and blocking ability makes play action effective, potentially helping in the red zone.

Fourth Round (Pick 133): Sterling Weatherford, S, Miami of Ohio I like taking a safety here to learn from Jesse Bates III and Vonn Bell. Weatherford is a big hitter and he could develop into an excellent tackler — but he could also become no more than a special teams contributor.

Fourth Round (Pick 137): Tyreke Smith, ED, Ohio State Caveat: There was a trade on the board, but this a no-trade mock. Am I an Ohio State fan? Yes. Was this pick influenced by my fandom? Perhaps. However, Smith is a good rusher and can drop into pass coverage when needed. Yes, the Bengals have good edge players (Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and the injured Joseph Ossai), but Smith could be seen as an insurance policy and a contributor on defense.

Rounds Five Through Seven

Fifth Round (Pick 172): Marquan McCall, DI, Kentucky McCall is more of a true nose tackle. That said, he should be able to move around on the defensive line and stabilize the interior.

Sixth Round (Pick 208): Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State It wouldn’t be a Bengals draft without taking a specialist, would it? I honestly tried not to take Araiza here but his potential contributions outweighed people making fun of me.

Seventh Round (Pick 222): Cade Mays, T, Tennessee A four-year starter between Georgia and Tennessee? Sign me up. He could prove a starter in a few years, and a great value.

Seventh Round (Pick 248): Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama A little more potential depth in the tight end room. This is a developmental pick.

Overall grade from PFF – B-: The two best picks were Kinnard and Mays, earning “A” grades. The Ruckert and Araiza picks earned “D+” grades, but I think they will both pan out. I’ll take another stab after free agency is over and see how I do then.

Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency: First Day Round Up

Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency Agreements

Photo credit: ProFootballTalk.com

Today marked the start of NFL free agency and, true to form from last year, the Cincinnati Bengals made moves early.

The first move was to get a commitment from former Tampa Bay guard Alex Cappa. The Bengals will pay $40 million over four years to secure the services of Cappa. Presumably, Cappa will start at right guard and solidify a position that turned into the literal revolving door.

Quick Take: This is a good move. Cappa is tough — he tried to play in the 2020 Wild Card game with a broken leg. Bengals fans know that OL coach Frank Pollack is looking for tough guys, and it appears that Cappa fits the bill. The former third-round pick out of Humboldt State should be the opening day starter at guard.

The Bengals kept their focus on the offensive line, and reached an agreement with former New England center Ted Karras. The agreed deal is for three years, carrying a price tag of $18 million. The assumption is that Karras will step into the starting center role; however, he has experience at guard as well.

Quick Take: Another good move. Karras is an established stud on the interior. He is one of those late-round offensive line picks (sixth round out of Illinois) that have been the cornerstone of the Patriots winning seasons. He is tough and reliable, starting 44 games over the past three seasons between New England and Miami. Moreover, if the Bengals believe Trey Hopkins is good enough to start at center, Karras could bump over to the left guard.

Turning to Defensive Agreements

With the interior of the offensive line shored up, the Bengals then turned to the defensive side of the ball, announcing an agreement with B.J. Hill. The Bengals traded Billy Price for Hill at the beginning of last season. The defensive lineman quickly became a fan favorite and a stabilizing presence. The agreement is for a three year, $30 million deal.

Quick Take: As Vance Meek and I briefly discussed on Twitter (my handle is @mhfight – hit me up with any comments), this signing had to happen after Larry Ogunjobi reached an agreement with Chicago. As Vance noted, this move shows that the Bengals have a plan with the interior defensive line. Hill is solid and reliable, this is a good signing.

Looking Ahead

Over the next week, I’d expect the Bengals to continue to work on the offensive line in free agency. With C.J. Uzomah leaving for the New York Jets, tight end also becomes a position of need.

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Offseason Goals

What do Joe Burrow and the Bengals do in the offseason to get back to the Super Bowl and win?
Photo Credit: NFL.com

Super Bowl Disappointment … Again

Prior to this past NFL season, most experts picked the Cincinnati Bengals to finish at the bottom of the AFC North. The young Bengals set out to prove the experts wrong and rode a wave of momentum created by an explosive offense and a stout defense straight to Super Bowl LVI. Unfortunately, for the third time in franchise history, the Bengals watched as a team from California celebrated winning the big game.

The young Bengals put up quite a fight and led late in the game; however, the pressure from the Rams defense proved too much. Aaron Donald sacked Joe Burrow on 4th and 1 to put an end to the game. The final sack hurts more because pictures show that Ja’marr Chase cooked Jalen Ramsey and was running wide open at the 20-yard line.

After the game, Burrow stated that the team will learn from its mistakes and will be back. I believe the Bengals can make it back; but, what offseason moves will help the team take the next step to Super Bowl Champions?

Bengals Offseason Goal #1: Protect Joe Burrow

The offensive line is a major, major problem. Opponents sacked Burrow 70 times this past season (including the postseason). He lost the 2020-2021 season to a demolished knee. Constant pressure left Burrow running for his life on countless occasions during the past two seasons.

To keep Joe Burrow alive and to take the next step, the Cincinnati Bengals need to address the offensive line. In 2021, the Bengals drafted Jackson Carman from Clemson and signed free agent Riley Reiff (who was sidelined with injuries, forcing Isaiah Prince into action). Carman, a tackle in college, played guard, but couldn’t perform consistently enough and ended up splitting time with Hakeem Adeniji at right guard.

Did I mention the offensive line was a major, major problem? In the regular season, Burrow played in all but the final game against Cleveland, amassing 51 sacks. While it is difficult to be accurate when your butt is on the turf, he threw for 4,611 yards and 34 TDs. Some of those sacks are on Burrow — he does tend to hold the ball a bit in order to try and make something happen. Imagine what he could do behind a serviceable offensive line.

Let’s not forget Joe Mixon, he is a stud (but not in the game at the end Zac?) who has run behind a lower-third graded run-blocking line. Solidifying the run game will make this offense that much more dangerous.

How do we fix the line? I’m glad you asked.

Bengals Offseason Goals: Free Agency

According to Spotrac, the Bengals have an estimated $55 million in cap space to spend in the upcoming offseason. Cincinnati dished out money to bolster the defense in the past two years (see D.J. Reader, Mike Hilton, Vonn Bell, Chidobe Awuzie, and Trey Hendrickson) — it is time to do the same on the offensive line.

Who should the Bengals target to help the line? Right guard was a mess, the position can be solidified by one of Brandon Scherff, Connor Williams, or Laken Thompson. If their potential price scares you, Andrew Norwell or Alex Cappa may provide cheaper options.

One of the aforementioned players could help shore up the middle, but what about the tackle spot? Terron Armstead would certainly look good blocking for Burrow (and Mixon). Move Jonah Williams to right tackle and slot Armstead at left tackle. Solid bookends. Riley Reiff remains a viable option here. Unfortunately, his season-ending injury may give the front office reason to be cautious.

The Bengals have plenty of money to spend and now have a team that can lure top free agents. Use that cache to improve the offensive line.

Bengals Offseason Goal: The Draft

If you prefer using the draft to improve the offensive line, there are plenty of options. Sitting in the 31st spot, a player the caliber of Trevor Penning or Bernhard Raimann could slip to the Bengals. Both of these young men are solid performers that could play early in their careers. A darkhorse candidate here is Zion Johnson, a versatile player who played snaps at both tackle and guard at Boston College.

The Bengals should also target an interior pass rusher, a tight end, and a young corner in the draft.

The Ultimate Goal: Build a Winner

The Cincinnati Bengals were so close to winning the Super Bowl, but all hope is not lost. The front office built a solid team through the draft and recent free agency. Now, the Bengals just need to follow the blueprint for another offseason. Another good run through free agency and the draft could insure that the AFC North will run through Cincinnati for years to come.

NFL Overtime Rules: What Changes are Needed?

nfl overtime rules
Josh Allen walks off the field following Buffalo’s Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Credit: Sports Illustrated

In what is now widely considered one of the greatest games ever to grace the NFL playoffs, the Buffalo Bills offense sat on the sidelines and never touched the ball as Kansas City advanced to the AFC Championship game for a fourth-straight year. There are a couple schools of thought to how this game ended – let’s take a look and propose a fix to the NFL overtime rules (if needed).

Does Overtime Need to be Fixed?

I’m sure that I will get some opposing opinions, but overtime needs to be fixed. I’m not saying this just because of what happened this past Sunday, the overtime system has needed fixing for a while. I have an issue with a system that affords the potential to have the game end without a team having an opportunity to have a possession.

Baseball doesn’t stop after the visiting team scores in the top of the tenth inning (of course baseball extra innings has its own set of issues). Basketball doesn’t stop after the first basket. Hockey does have sudden death – but it’s hockey and scoring is difficult. Soccer adds an extra period and then advances to penalty kicks. So we have a wide variety to choose from, so…

Will “Spot and Choose” Fix NFL Overtime Rules?

I am not a fan of the “Spot and Choose” method of overtime that has been proposed. Moreover, I do not like the idea that it may be proposed again. One team decides where the ball will be spotted to start overtime, the other team decides offense of defense. The two options are that there is then a 10-minute, sudden-death period or another period of seven minutes and thirty seconds to see who is ahead.

I think the main reason that this method is gaining some traction is the fact that there is a time limit. Keep the timed period play of the proposal, I like that. Play out the entire period, and the team that is winning at the end is the winner *GASP* I know, novel idea.

What is the NFL Overtime Rules Fix?

First things first, no sudden death. That is my biggest issue with the current system, so why keep it? I like playing another timed period; something around 10 minutes is a good proposal. Play that period out and it finishes just like any other game.

If you want to take the special teams out of the equation for player safety (the NFL buzzword nowadays), then start with the ball on your own 25 – just like a touchback. The only thing we lose there is seeing the returners hold their arms out to the sides. If you want a coin toss to decide who gets the ball first, that’s fine. Spot the ball, and let’s go.

What if there is a tie at the end of the extra period? This is where we turn to soccer and hockey – a shootout. Incorporate the college overtime rules, but add some NFL flair to it. Start at your opponent’s 30 and try to score a touchdown. Regular NFL rules apply, four downs to get 10 yards – meaning two first downs then a goal-to-go situation.

Here’s the kicker (pardon the advance pun): no field goals in the shootout. The first team to score and keep the opponent from scoring wins. Is it unfair to take the kicker out of the equation? Perhaps. However, this proposal causes the coaches to go for the touchdown rather than play it safe. This system encourages aggressive coaching and simply leads to more exciting football.

The Final Proposal

The fix is easy. No sudden death, like the current NFL overtime. Start with the ball on your own 25 rather than kicking off, then play regular old football until the clock reaches zero. A continued tie means start with the ball at your opponent’s 30 and score a touchdown, nothing less. Score and then you play defense and stop the other team.

Is this a perfect proposal? No. But I feel it is far better than the system that the NFL currently uses, at least both teams will have a possession this way.

2021 CFP: Can Cincinnati Beat Alabama?

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder will face Alabama for a chance at a National Championship
Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a storybook year for Cincinnati – an undefeated season that now has the G5 team facing perennial powerhouse Alabama. Can the Bearcats continue this run and pull off a major upset against Alabama? They are currently a 13.5-point favorite over the AAC champion, which is understandable.

No matter what you think about the media and the SEC, Alabama has faced a tougher schedule than the Bearcats. The AAC is not a murderer’s row and, to be fair, UC did struggle at times. That said, there is a way that UC can stay in this game and possibly win. Let’s take a look at they keys to a win for Cincinnati against Alabama.

No John Metchie

First, the defense needs to take advantage of the absence of Alabama wide receiver John Metchie. Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant need to shut down Alabama quarterback (and Heisman winner) Bryce Young’s remaining weapons and force the Tide into running the ball. Alabama turned in poor rushing performances late in the season (six yards against LSU) and taking Young and Jameson Williams (his top receiver) out of the picture will be beneficial for the ‘Cats.

Win time of possession battle

Second, the offense needs to control the ball. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder will present a major problem for the Alabama defense. A true dual threat, he can beat this defense through the air and on the ground. That said, Ridder and crew will need to control the ball on the ground, then take shots when available. This where Jerome Ford comes in.

Ford rushed for 100 yards five times this season and nearly 200 against Houston in the AAC Championship game. If he can put up this sort of production in the Cotton Bowl, keeping the ball out of Alabama’s hands, Cincinnati could pull off the upset. Positive yardage on first and second downs to keep manageable third-down situations will also help Ridder be effective throwing the ball.

DISCIPLINE

Finally, luck and eliminating mistakes. Face it, UC is the underdog and what does the underdog need to pull off the major upset? Luck. At some point, the ball is going to have to bounce Cincinnati’s way. Perhaps a deflected pass that ends up as an interception, a dropped hand-off that bounces right to a defensive lineman, a gadget play at just the right time to catch Alabama off guard — something weird will happen and it has to go the Bearcats’ way.

Also, Ridder and crew have to protect the ball. Cincinnati can not give this Alabama offense additional opportunities to score – it will be tough enough to stop them without turning the ball over.

Can Cincinnati Beat Alabama?

Is a Cotton Bowl victory and shot at a National Championship in UC’s future? Not many people think so, but if the Bearcats can take advantage of Alabama’s injuries on offense, control the ball, and get a bit of luck … it is possible.

Be sure to check out Around The Block for more coverage of the CFB playoffs.