Breaking down the Bengals draft


A little over a week after the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft ended in Chicago, Bengals fans can finally take a breath and start to break down and analyze each of the seven players chosen in the draft. Heading into this years’ draft, the Bengals were looking to add players at the wide receiver, cornerback, defensive tackle, and safety positions. In past years, the Bengals and their front office have been known as one of the best teams at using the draft to build their team and they did just that once again this year. Now let’s take a look at each of the Bengals picks from the 2016 NFL Draft.

Round 1, Pick 24: William Jackson III (Cornerback, Houston)

Bengals first round pick William Jackson III snagging an interception in last year's Peach Bowl.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Bengals first round pick William Jackson III snagging an interception in last year’s Peach Bowl.

In the first round of the draft, Bengals fans were hoping to snag one of the top four receivers in Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, or Laquon Treadwell. However, Marvin Lewis and his staff were somewhat screwed over by former assistant coaches who left Cincinnati for head coaching jobs when the Browns (Hue Jackson) took Corey Coleman 15th overall, the Redskins (Jay Gruden) grabbed Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick, and the Vikings (Mike Zimmer) snagged Laquon Treadwell, just one spot before the Bengals with the 23rd pick. Will Fuller was also selected with the 21st pick by the Texans which led Bengals fans to question whether they would take the risk of getting another receiver that may not have enough talent to be a first round pick (Michael Thomas or Sterling Shepard)? Or do they wait on picking a receiver to address other needs?

Well in my opinion, the Bengals made the right decision in addressing their needs by drafting William Jackson III, a cornerback from Houston. With this pick, the Bengals did not only draft a position that they are weak in, but they also stole a player that their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, were definitely going to draft. Bengals fans everywhere should be overjoyed after stealing the pick from the Steelers and as a bonus, they got one of the most talented defensive players in the draft.

Pullquote Photo

He’s really good…He’s one of the best I’ve seen. I actually liked him more than the kid from Florida State (Jalen Ramsey).

— Adam Jones

When the pick was first announced, some Bengals fans, including myself, were a little confused with the Bengals going for a cornerback in the first round. However, this pick makes prefect sense since the Bengals are somewhat thin, or could possibly become thin, at the cornerback position in the very near future. With Adam “Pacman” Jones (32 years old) and Leon Hall (31 years old) both being key players in the Bengals secondary once again last year, if either of them decides to retire or move on from their football career in the upcoming years, the Bengals will have a pretty impressive replacement in Jackson III. Also, the Bengals may have been looking for a replacement for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who is in a contract year, by drafting the stellar cornerback out of Houston.

In William Jackson III’s senior season, he led the nation in pass breakups, 23 total, despite missing a game due to a tweaked knee. Along with the many pass breakups, Jackson III also had five interception last year which helped earn him second-team all-conference. With his height (6′-0″) and arm length (31.75″) Jackson III should be able to produce similar numbers at the pro level along with his make up speed (4.37 second 40-yard dash) which will help him with defending the long ball. Overall, I think drafting William Jackson III was a great decision for the Bengals moving forward.

Round 2, Pick 24 (55 overall): Tyler Boyd (Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh)

The Bengals second round pick,Tyler Boyd, showing his athleticism.
The Bengals second round pick,Tyler Boyd, showing his athleticism.

With their second pick in this year’s draft, the Bengals grabbed a 6′-1″ wide receiver from Pittsburgh in Tyler Boyd. In his rookie season, Boyd will be teaming up with veteran wide-out Brandon LaFell as they try to fill a void left by the departure of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu over the off-season. Although Boyd grew up just outside of Pittsburgh as a Steelers fan, Bengals fans should learn to love him for many reasons.

With the loss of Sanu, the Bengals are losing a very versatile player that could run, pass, and catch the ball when called upon. However, they found themselves a player that did most of the same at the college level. In his time at Pittsburgh, Boyd was known to be a threat running routes as a receiver, running the jet sweep, and lining up in the backfield. Not only did teams have to prepare for Boyd running and catching the ball, but he was even known to be able to throw the ball while catching the defense off guard.

In a Bengals uniform, Boyd will likely play both in the slot as well as out wide, but don’t be surprised if you see him run or even throw the ball.

Round 3, Pick 24 (87): Nick Vigil (Inside Linebacker, Utah State)

Going into the draft, Nick Vigil, a 6′-2″ linebacker out of Utah State, was predicted to be draft on the third day of the draft by many experts. However, these same experts compared Vigil to a former Defensive Player of the Year, Luke Kuechly, with his presence at the linebacker position.

Nick Vigil staring down his opponents during his college years at Utah State
Nick Vigil staring down his opponents during his college years at Utah State

Last season at Utah State, Vigil managed to rack up 144 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss earning him first team All-Mountain West honors. This wasn’t his first time receiving honors at the end of a season as Vigil also was recognized as a first team All-Mountain West in his sophomore season with 123 tackles and and 16.5 of those were for a loss.

Nick Vigil is known by many as a very unique player on and off the field. Throughout his college career, Vigil rocked the famous rat-tail that was popular in the early 1990’s but decided to cut it before the draft to avoid team’s looking at him differently. Aside from his looks in his college years, Vigil was also mixed things up by not only playing the linebacker position but also lining up as a running back in some instances with 41 rushes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. With that being said, his quickness showed during the combine when he ran a 4.66 second 40-yard dash.

With the Bengals, Vigil could easily work himself into the linebacker group alongside Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga, and Vincent Rey or he could even find himself being inserted as a lead back in goal-line situations.

Round 4, Pick 24 (122): Andrew Billings (Defensive Tackle, Baylor)

Big Andrew Billings is ready to punish other teams who passed up on him in the NFL draft
Big Andrew Billings is ready to punish other teams who passed up on him in the NFL draft

As a 6′-1″ defensive tackle out of Baylor, Andrew Billings may have been the biggest steal of this year’s NFL Draft. Billings slipped to the third day of the draft to the Bengals despite being ranked as one of the best defensive tackles in this year’s draft class. To put it all in perspective, in Mel Kiper’s (ESPN’s #1 guy for anything with the NFL Draft) final mock draft, Andrew Billings was selected in the first round with the 24th overall pick to the Bengals. Nearly 100 picks later than expected, Billings was finally drafted by the Bengals and is trying to use this experience as motivation.

“This is something I’m going to carry with me my whole life…it’s actually a good thing for me,” Billings told reporters after being drafted.

The Bengals are really hoping that Billings plays with a chip on his shoulder throughout his time with the team. Due to his size, Billings has been compared to a fellow fourth round pick for the Bengals, Geno Atkins, who has been chosen to four pro-bowls in his career. If Billings can use his strength (combine-best bench press of 31) and size to his advantage, he could easily become a part of the Bengals front four.

Round 5, Pick 24 (161): Christian Westerman (Offensive Guard, Arizona State)

Entering the 2016 season with Kevin Zeitler in the last year of his rookie contract, the Bengals may have just selected Westerman, a 6′-3″ guard out of Arizona State, as insurance just in case the Bengals and Zeitler cannot reach an extension. Westerman is known as a versatile offensive line but with the Bengals, he will likely not be used at the tackle position with the Bengals adding two young and talented tackles, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, in last years draft.

The Bengals sixth round draft pick, Cody Core, should help them out on special teams.
The Bengals sixth round draft pick, Cody Core, should help them out on special teams.

However, Westerman could be inserted in the center position due to the lack of production from the team’s starting center, Russel Bodine. Last year, Bodine was ranked 30th of 39 eligible players at his position by Pro Football Focus which shows the need for a replacement. Overall, the Bengals may have just chosen to add an extra offensive lineman in this year’s draft or who knows, the may have bigger plans for the young guard from Arizona State.

Round 6, Pick 24 (199): Cody Core (Wide Receiver, Mississippi)

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Although Cody Core is definitely worth a sixth round draft pick, he wasn’t the wide receiver out of Mississippi that Bengals fans will hoping to get. In college, Core was used almost everywhere by playing on the defensive side of the ball, the offensive side, and also on special teams. Core will likely find himself on strictly special teams units but could also slide into a small role in the offense if the Bengals have to deal with many injuries or he really impresses the coaches in practice.

Round 7, Pick 24 (245): Clayton Fejedelem (Safety, Illinois)

With the loss of Reggie Nelson this off season, the Bengals were in need of adding some more depth in the safety position and did just that Fejedelem. However, Fejedelem shouldn’t compete for the starting job due to the rise of Shawn Williams at the end of last season. Overall, Fejedelem could find himself on special teams, but won’t be a big part of the defense.

After breaking down each of the Bengals seven draft picks from the 2016 NFL draft, some may love what the Bengals did while some may hate their picks but in my opinion, they had a successful draft once again.