Cincinnati Bengals RAS: Offense

Welcome back to the series — I know it’s been awhile. In case you are not familiar, this series is where I look at the RAS scores and athletic testing of the draft picks from each front office. For this one I am looking at the Cincinnati Bengals and their connection to RAS in regards to the draft. Now I know the Bengals do not have a de-facto GM. But upon research, around 2016 was when Duke Tobin was given more control and is seen as when he became more or less the GM. Although I didn’t feel it necessary to go back to 2016, so I went to 2017.

You can also find my most recent article about RAS and the Patriots. For anyone in the scouting community or who wants their mock drafts to be more accurate these articles will help you identify prospects who may or may not be on a teams draft board. Every team’s draft board varies from one to the other. So let’s get it started with the position the Bengals have had the most success with:

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT

Quarterbacks:

Quarterback is one of the few positions that is more or less the same across the league as far as athletic testing. The Bengals are in line with the rest of the league.

They have drafted three quarterbacks since 2017. Logan Woodside, Ryan Finley, and, of course, Joe Burrow. They are between 6’1″-6’4″ and all at least 213 pounds. We do not have any testing on Burrow, but Finley and Woodside average out to a 6.94 RAS and would be considered slightly above average athletes for their position. Most teams want a guy who can get a first down if needed, but mostly can maneuver around the pocket.

Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Running backs:

Since 2017, the Bengals have drafted five running backs. Joe Mixon, Mark Walton, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson, and Chris Evans. It seems there are two types of backs they draft. Bigger backs like Mixon, Anderson, and Evans all are 5’11”-6’0″ and 211-228 pounds. Walton and Williams would be smaller backs, both in the 5’8″-5’9″ range and both just over 200 pounds. The four Cincinnati Bengals have an average RAS score of 7.13.

From their explosion testing, you could say they like their backs to be explosive. All of them have a 9’10” broad jump or higher, and outside of Walton all had a vertical of 33″ or more. 40-yard dash times does not look to be too important to them since the times range from 4.45 to 4.6. It also seems they like their running backs to score at least average in agility drills.

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
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Wide Receivers:

The Bengals have drafted five receivers since 2017. Starting with John Ross, Josh Malone, Auden Tate, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase. They have an average RAS score of 6.47 which doesn’t sound particularly impressive. But if you take out Tate who had a epically low 1.84, you get an average score of 7.63. Tate’s selection seems to be more of an outlier. Looking at their size profiles, it seems the Bengals learned their lesson from Ross. After him every receiver was at least 6’0″ and 200 pounds.

Both the 40-yard dash and broad jump seem to be important to the Bengals. Outside of Tate, two of them jumped at least 11′ and the other two were over 10′. Again, outside of Tate, they all ran a 4.54 or faster, with three running 4.4 or faster. Interestingly, the vertical does not seem to be important to them. At least three of them had verticals of 31″ or lower. Agility scores also do not seem to be something the Bengals hold to. There is no agility testing on Ross, but three of them scored either average or poor times.

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Tight ends:

The Bengals have only drafted two tight ends since 2017, Mason Schreck and Drew Sample. The Cincinnati Bengals draftees have an average RAS score of 8.44, so it seems when they do draft tight ends they like them to be highly athletic. Both are 6’4″ and over 250 pounds.

They do seem to prefer prospects to have at least average explosion testing. Both had verts between 33.5″ and 34.5″. Similar broad jumps as well, 9’7″ and 9’10”. Again, very similar 40 times 4.76 and 4.71. Short shuttle also looks to be important to them. 4.31 and 4.27 were both their times and those are considered solid for a tight end.

Cincinnati Bengals RAS
Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Offensive line:

The Bengals have drafted 10 offensive linemen since 2017. One of the interesting things is they have drafted three centers in that time and two of them were not able to workout. They have also drafted four guards, and three tackles. They are JJ Dielman, Billy Price, Roderick Taylor, Jonah Williams, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Adeniji, Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith, Trey Hill, and Cordell Volson.

All the Cincinnati Bengals draftees RAS scores averaged out comes to a 5.97, which is not very impressive. Looking at the guys they have drafted, only two had RAS scores over 6.22. So it can be said that they do not prioritize athleticism in the offensive line.

Centers:

Since only one of the centers worked out we can’t find any common ground in testing. But we can look at size. All three are between 6’3″-6’5″ and 305-319 pounds. With arm length from 32″-33 5/8″. So what we can say from that is they tend to like their centers on the bigger side.

Guards:

As to their guards, they do seem to like them on the taller side. Two of the four are 6’6″, with Taylor being 6’3″ and Carman being 6’5″. The lightest guard was 312, with Taylor being the heaviest at 320 pounds. So it seems as with centers, they like their guards on the bigger side and with long arms with the shortest being 33 7/8″.

They do like their guards to be explosive; all three were good-to-elite in their testing. All three tested average in speed, with each running in the 5.2 range. As far as agility testing, this does not look like an area that they prioritize. Two of them tested poorly and the other, Jordan, was just ok.

Tackles:

The three tackles they drafted are 6’4″-6’5″. Weight wise, they are also all in the same range — between 302-305 pounds. Again, they all tested similar in the bench, between 23-26 reps. With arm length there was some variety, Williams was the shortest with 33 5/8″ and Smith as the longest 35 1/4″. You could surmise they don’t like tackles with short arms.

As to testing, it seems like they aren’t too particular with explosive testing as long as the tackle is average or better. As for speed, the 40 times were all over the place, but the 10 yard dashes were somewhat similar and were all at least solid. The slowest was a 1.83 and the fastest was 1.77, which is very good. Similar to the guards they do not prioritize agility testing with their tackles.

Stay tuned for the next part on the defense!

Ranking All 13 NFL Alternate Helmets

This season, the NFL has allowed teams to have more than one colored helmet to wear. The rule change saw 13 NFL franchises introduce new helmets for their alternate uniforms.

Before I begin, I want to clarify what I ranked these helmets based on. There were three factors that went into my ranking: 1. Does the helmet itself look good? 2. Does the helmet fit with the rest of the uniform? 3. Could the team have done more with the helmet? With that in mind, here is my ranking for these new helmets.

The New NFL Alternate Helmets: 13-6

Chicago Bears alternate helmet for the 2022 NFL season
Photo Credit: Jacob Funk/Chicago Bears

13. Chicago Bears

I attend a school that wears orange helmets with its orange uniforms. It doesn’t work too well. Same thing goes for the Bears. The traditional navy helmet works so much better with any of Chicago’s jerseys, especially its orange one. This alternate helmet is a miss for one of the NFL’s most iconic teams.

12. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals messed up big time with their new helmets. Arizona plans to wear these with its color rush uniforms. The red pops out with the black real well with those, so why not do the same with the helmets? If these had a red face mask, this could’ve been one of the better helmets. But instead, they go with a bland, black design.

11. Washington Commanders

I’m glad that Washington didn’t leave the “numbers on the helmet” look behind when it rebranded. However, the execution this time around feels poor. The “W” in the front doesn’t sit well. Maybe a stripe, like the Commanders’ primary helmets, would’ve been better. This helmet isn’t bad by any means, but ten other teams did a better job than Washington.

10. Carolina Panthers

This one might have to grow on me a bit. I like the all black concept the Panthers created, but this helmet feels almost too dark. From the photos, it’s difficult to see the Panthers logo. The colors mesh well together, but nothing pops out to the eye.

9. Houston Texans

The helmet itself is one of the best that have been introduced. What’s upsetting is the Texans plan to wear these with their red uniforms, according to gridiron-uniforms.com. These would look significantly better with their blue-with-red-lettering color rush jerseys. The all-red look Houston plans to wear doesn’t sit with me well.

8. New Orleans Saints

The Saints introduced a new look this offseason, and it’s not bad. The fleur-de-lis down the middle helps this helmet represents New Orleans well, and black and gold go together like bread and butter. However, nothing about this helmet stands out; it’s a bit bland. Maybe a gold face mask would help?

7. New York Jets

Now we’re getting to the helmets I really like. The Jets’ nailed this one. New York’s black uniforms look even better with this helmet. The green on the logo and face mask (take note, Cardinals) pop out and give the uniform more vibrance.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles kept their helmet change simple, and I’m all for it. They switched from an already-fresh midnight green and black look to a more fitting all black uniform. A slight change for the better.

NFL Alternate Helmets: The Top 5

Dallas Cowboys bring back the alternate uniforms and helmets for 2022
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Dallas Cowboys

The Thanksgiving uniforms worn in the late 2000s and early 2010s are iconic. Dallas finally gets the chance to bring them back this year. The simplicity of the helmet gives the Cowboys an old school look, something that somewhat resembles a cowboy. The white pops out with the rest of the uniform, and I love it.

4. New York Giants

The Giants’ white throwback uniform has been a staple amongst fans for a few years now. It’s about time they brought the blue back. The darker shade of blue on the helmet gives the uniform a more classic look. On top of that, the “GIANTS” along the side is significantly better than the block “NY”. A perfect helmet for a classic uniform.

3. New England Patriots

The Pat Patriot look is back! The red, white, and blue look has long been one of the best looks in football. The white stands out with the red jersey really well, giving New England a patriotic look. As someone who watched many Patriots games growing up, I’m so happy to see these back in action.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Finally. Ever since the Bengals introduced their all-white uniforms, fans have been screaming for the Bengals to wear while helmets. Everyone’s wish came true, and this looks so clean. The new helmets put these uniforms in the conversation for the best in the NFL.

1. Atlanta Falcons

When the Falcons got new uniforms in 2020, I was disappointed they went with black helmets instead of red. Now you see why. The red and black look with a sliver of gold bring back ’80s nostalgia, a more authentic throwback, and one of the cleanest looks in the NFL. It’s about time Atlanta brought these back. These are, without a doubt, the best of the NFL alternate helmets

Does running the ball set up the pass?

Running the ball to set up the pass is an age old adage where your father and grandfather told you how to play football, but does running the ball really set up the pass?

Running the ball to set up the pass is an age-old adage where your father and grandfather told you how to play football, but does running the ball really set up the pass?

Traditionally, when an offense executes a successful run for a significant chunk of yardage, an opposing defense will attempt to compensate by bringing additional defenders into the “run box.” The more bodies in the way of the run, the more likely it is for the run to be held short. 

However, if more defenders are in the box, that means there are fewer players to defend passes away from the box, so the passing game has greater opportunity to get the ball further down the field. 

The NFL evolves every decade moving onward towards something unique but building on basic concepts. We’ve witnessed the fall of the I-form power football in the ‘70’s, to rise of the West Coast offense in the ‘80’s, Run ‘N Shoot and K-Gun in the ‘90’s, Spread and Shotgun offenses in the early 2000’s to the RPO revolution in the 2020’s.

Ultimately, this has come as a result of the NFL’s purposeful rule changes and schematic breakthroughs that have led to its desired impact: more touchdowns. In turn this led to running the ball much less.

EPA on running the ball to set up the pass

A study done by Sean Clements, who is now a data analyst for the Baltimore Ravens, found that establishing the run early in NFL games does not open the passing game later in games.

Through a boxplot Clements made, it’s found that there is little correlation between running the ball early and at a high volume increases the yardage obtained on passing plays.

The next emphasis is through EPA, expected points added. Basically, it measures the expected points of a play. 

In a graph made by Ben Baldwin, the number of expected points decreases as the number of rushing attempts increases. Contrary to the belief running the ball will help to set up the pass and score.

If that were the case, then we would expect to see higher EPA as the number of rushing attempts increases.

How the modern era has discontinued running the ball to set up the pass

From 2015-2020 passing on first down has averaged a 7.6 YPA, yards per attempt, while running the ball gained 4.3 YPA.

Per sharp football stats, 30.4% of pass attempts on first down have ended up moving the chains. However, only 12.8% of running plays have picked up another first down. In 2020, NFL teams ran the ball on 50.3% of their first-down plays in 2020 and passed the ball on only 49.7%.

In 2021, NFL offenses averaged 7.4 YPA passing on first down compared to 4.2 YPA rushing.

Even the most run-heavy teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans had higher YPA’s on first down compared to running the ball. San Francisco had an 8.9 YPA passing and 4.4 YPA rushing. Tennessee had 7.2 YPA passing and 4.2 YPA rushing.

Yet, 20 of 32 NFL teams, run the ball on first down gaining minimal yards compared to easily moving the chains to score. So what gives?

How two-high coverages has stopped running the ball to set up the pass

As a result of the modern NFL, many offenses are trigger-happy and defenses have had to respond with swift actions.

Defenses have adapted as time has passed. This time to coverages that include a large base of two-high safety shells.  Two-high coverage means both the strong safety and free safety defend the deep end of the field, with each responsible for a section that runs to each boundary.

Thus leaving the middle of the field open, the main purpose of two-high is to prevent explosive plays in the deep third of the field and not allow big plays.

Some NFL offenses and high-profile quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes have struggled against two-high coverage early on because they struggled to take what the defense gives them.

In 2018, the highest amount of two-high looks faced by any quarterback in the league was 42%. Eight weeks into the 2021 NFL season, only five teams faced two-high safeties less than 40%.

The key to beating two-high coverage? Running the ball. Two-high is not the perfect scheme to use a majority of the time as yards can be gained in the intermediate passing game and the running game.

Due to the nature of defensive backs lined up well outside the box, offenses often have a light defensive body count in the box to go against. This opens up numerous lanes for running backs.

How passing the ball has set up the run

Running the ball does keep the defense honest and it can be noted on second and third down. YPA on rush attempts increases to 4.4 on second down and 4.5 on third down.

The success rate of it gaining five or more yards is 50% on second down and jumps to 53% on third down. 

Passing on second down yields a 6.9 YPA with a 47% success rate, on third down passing results in 7.2 YPA with a 37% success rate.

First down has become the most successful passing down to move the chains and get drives started for offenses with a 54% success rate.

The most successful offenses in the NFL have potent passing attacks and have the most success by passing the ball on first down and converting it five-plus yards or past the sticks.

1st down situational Pass:Run Ratios

Buffalo, San Francisco, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and the Los Angeles Rams all have 8 or more yards per attempt passing coupled with being over a 54% success rate.

Respectively, each team’s YPA on running the ball increases on 2nd and 3rd downs.

Second and Third down Pass:Run ratios

As the NFL continues its passing revolution, gone are the days of running the ball to set up the pass. With the league running two-high shells almost 50% of the time, the NFL offense has adjusted to throwing the ball more on early downs to gain more yards. Thus, able to run the ball effectively when needed to be.

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Are the Cincinnati Bengals already being doubted heading into 2022?

Can last year’s AFC conference champion capitalize on the momentum and win next year’s Super Bowl?

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

A little over a month ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were the darlings of the NFL, from media and fan perspectives. Their long-awaited postseason win drought was not only over after 31 years, the team was also the biggest underdog story in sports prior to St. Peter’s becoming the darlings of March Madness

Cincinnati failed in its third attempt to win a Super Bowl, but it appeared they gained a ton of respect along the way. The Bengals looked like a team that could challenge for the AFC Championship again next season. But have the good vibes and enthusiasm surrounding the Bengals evaporated already?

The Cincinnati Bengals are being overlooked by NFL Oddsmakers.
A lower place than among the Super Bowl 57 favorites.

Eight teams in NFL history, and one in the last 28 years, have returned to the Super Bowl the following season after losing. Vegas seems to be well aware of the trend of futility. The bookmakers apparently aren’t convinced the beloved Bengals of January 2022 are a prime contender to win Super Bowl 57.  The latest futures odds from Caesars Sportsbook don’t have the Bengals top 10 to win Super Bowl 57.

They are tied with the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens at +2500. The Bengals are tied with the Ravens for the sixth-best odds to win the AFC at +1200. 

The Bengals haven’t gotten worse since their Super Bowl loss. Their biggest weakness to address was the offensive line, and they did so in stellar fashion, with three significant free-agent additions, including the latest addition of tackle La’El Collins. The team did not have any major losses in free agency, either. 

It seems like these Bengals have a good chance to get back to the AFC Championship Game again and possibly the Super Bowl, considering that the explosive offense will remain mostly intact and the blocking has already improved. There are some tweaks needed on the defense, but overall, the roster is certainly good enough to ensure that Cincinnati remains a contender if many of the key performers stay healthy. 

Where the Cincinnati Bengals are found in the AFC odds

The Bills (+400) and the Chiefs (+450) are the favorites to win the AFC. That is no surprise, especially with Buffalo adding Von Miller and the Chiefs acquiring JuJu Smith-Schuster. The AFC road to the Super Bowl goes through Kansas City, anyhow. The Broncos are third at +850 after acquiring Russell Wilson.

The former Seahawks QB has not advanced his team to a conference championship game in the past seven seasons. Plus, you could give Cincinnati the full advantage over Denver at running back and wide receiver. Denver may be better defensively, but these teams don’t seem too far apart in terms of conference winning championship potential. 

The Chargers are also at +850, and their defense looks fearsome, but their starting QB has no playoff experience. The Browns are at +900 after acquiring Deshaun Watson. 

He will certainly have a better shot to win playoff games than he did in Houston, but the fact is, he still has to prove it. Watson has one career playoff win. Baltimore is even with Cincinnati at +1200 to win the AFC, but Lamar Jackson has certainly not shown he is capable of leading a team on a deep playoff run yet. The Bengals are at the exact same odds after winning the AFC Championship last season.

We certainly are not judging these other AFC teams purely by the quarterback position only, and any of the other AFC contenders positioned ahead of Cincinnati could make a good run to a conference title. 

What about the Bengals compared to the NFC?

But haven’t the Bengals earned more respect in terms of being a favorite? 

You could make a good case their odds should at least match those of Denver and Los Angeles. Plus, the Bengals are tied with the Titans in the odds to win Super Bowl 57. Yes, the Titans acquired Robert Woods, but there is no way I would give any team led by Ryan Tannehill the same projected chances as the defending AFC champions.

Among the NFC teams ahead of Cincinnati in current odds to win Super Bowl 57 is San Francisco at +1400. The 49ers should not be so far ahead of the Bengals considering they’ll be starting an inexperienced quarterback next season. Of all the teams in the top 10 odds, the Niners have the shakiest outlook at the most important position. 

The most head-scratching team to actually be ahead of the Bengals is the Dallas Cowboys at +1800. Dallas may have actually gotten worse this offseason with some of their key personnel losses in free agency. The Cowboys have won one playoff game in the last seven years and lost in the Wild Card last season. 

Place a bet on the Bengals right now

You could indeed make very good cases that the odds for many of the teams ahead of the Bengals deserve those projected outlooks to win the AFC or Super Bowl 57. But I would certainly take Cincinnati over Baltimore, Tennessee, or Dallas. 

That said, the Bengals are a good value in NFL futures right now to win the AFC/Super Bowl next season. We recommend strongly considering such wagers right now, especially on the odds to win the AFC Championship again. 

It is a knee-jerk reaction when many NFL observers make predictions on the next season based on a past one. The current state of the Cincinnati roster, however, showcases the Bengals are certainly capable of contending for the conference. 

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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.