Re-Drafting the Bengals 2016 Class
Everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20. While it is far too soon to know how the class of 2016 will develop, some players contributed much more to their team’s success as a rookie than others. In redrafting the Bengals class of 2016, the idea is to consider who would have put them in a better position to win last season as well as addressing their current needs a year early.
First Round: 24th Overall Selection
Actual Pick: William Jackson III CB Houston
New Pick: Michael Thomas WR Ohio State
Most people were thinking that the Bengals would go receiver with this pick, but as receivers were drafted with the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd picks the Bengals went with the guy at the top of their board. Unfortunately, due to injury we didn’t get to see any of William Jackson III in his rookie season. Michael Thomas caught 92 balls for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie after being selected by the Saints with the 47th overall pick in the draft. Although the Bengals got good production out of 2016 second round pick Tyler Boyd and are expecting more of his in the future, Thomas certainly was a much bigger impact player as a rookie.
Second Round: 55th Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Tyler Boyd WR Pittsburgh
New Pick: Joe Thuney OG NC State
Having taken a receiver in the first round, the Bengals look to add depth to their offensive line in the second. This Centerville, Ohio native was selected by the Patriots with the 78th overall pick. Joe Thuney started every game for the Patriots as a rookie this season. With Clint Boling struggling with injury, the addition of Thuney could have prevented the team from having to move Andrew Whitworth to guard. Currently the addition of Thuney would add more certainty to the offensive line moving forward.
Third Round: 87th Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Nick Vigil LB Utah State
New Pick: De’Vondre Campbell LB Minnesota
Last year Nick Vigil played at times and he currently sits on top of the depth chart. It would be easy to stick with Vigil here who may be the clear right choice as once he gets more playing time. De’Vondre Campbell however was a bit more productive as a rookie. Campbell was taken with the 115th overall selection and started ten games for the Falcons recording 48 tackles. Perhaps he would have pushed for more playing time faster with the Bengals as well and given the defense more speed.
Fourth Round: 122nd Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Andrew Billings DT Baylor
New Pick: Jordan Howard RB Indiana
Andrew Billings will likely get a shot at the nose tackle job this season, but last year he did not play due to injury. Selecting Jordan Howard would have been a bit of a head scratcher last season. At the time there was much more optimism about both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. After a poor season for both backs and an ACL surgery for Hill this pick would have put the team in a much more comfortable current situation at running back. Howard was selected by the Bears with the 150th overall selection. Despite beginning the season as the Bears third string running back Howard finished the season with 1,313 rushing yards, 298 receiving yards, and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Fifth Round: 161st Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Christian Westerman OG Arizona State
New Pick: Tyreek Hill WR West Alabama
Christian Westerman may have a chance to compete for a starting spot at guard this season, but after drafting a guard early the team decides to add a second receiver. Tyreek Hill would provide the Bengals with the speed at receiver that they need as well as a returner. Drafted by the Chiefs with the 165th overall pick, Hill made had 593 yards receiving, 267 yards rushing and nine offensive touchdowns as a rookie. Hill added three more touchdowns on special teams, returning both punts and kickoffs.
Sixth Round: 199th Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Cody Core WR Ole Miss
New Pick: Michael Pierce DT Samford
The Bengals would not have a need for Cody Core after drafting two other receivers. The Bengals add depth at the defensive tackle spot and a potential Domata Peko replacement with Michael Pierce. Peirce was an undrafted free agent signing of the Baltimore Ravens. He did not start for the team, but played in all of their games and contributed 35 tackles and two sacks.
Seventh Round: 245th Overall Selection
Actual Pick: Clayton Fejedelem S Illinois
New Pick: Will Lutz K Georgia State
The Bengals replace the selection of Clayton Fejedelem with a much bigger piece of the special teams puzzle in Will Lutz. Lutz spent fall camp with the Ravens, but with Justin Tucker on the roster he was cut and became a New Orleans Saint. Perhaps the most important stat to note is that Lutz converted on 98 percent of his extra point attempts which would have been a huge improvement for the Bengals last season.
Despite drafting an Ohio State receiver in the first round, most Bengals fans would have hated this draft initially. Many of the players seem to be reaches or not filling an obvious need. If these players were able to perform for the Bengals the same way they were for their teams, it would have been a very impressive rookie class. If this was the way the draft had panned out last year, the Bengals would still be looking for a pass rushing defensive end this year. Other needs would include a physical running back, a tight end, defensive backs, and possibly a center. Their needs overall would be less urgent than they are currently.