Tag Archives: Andy Dalton

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 NFL Draft /UDFA recap

Where would the Bengals go in this year’s draft after winning the AFC championship? Traditionally, the draft has yielded fine results for the franchise. In this century, the Bengals’ front office/scouts have drafted a number players who either made the Pro Bowl for them or other teams. In 2001 alone, they drafted T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Justin Smith and Chad Johnson. In 2003, they drafted Carson Palmer.

In 2006, the team drafted two eventual Pro Bowlers in Johnathan Joseph (1st Round, 24th overall) and Andrew Whitworth (2nd Round, 55th overall). Their fourth round pick, Domata Peko, played until he was 36 years old and all three players played at least until that age, with Whitworth recently retiring as a Super Bowl champion at the age of 40.

Cincinnati Bengals
     
Round,
Selection,
PlayerSchoolDN Big Board
Rank/
Grade
‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (31)
Daxton Hill
S-Nickel/Michigan
11/1st Round
Hill, basically a starting nickel at Michigan on base downs, could get an opportunity to fulfill a variety of sub-package roles early in Cincinnati. Could they even experiment with him as a corner?
2 (60)
Acquired from Tampa Bay via the Bills
Cam Taylor-Britt
CB/Nebraska
53/2nd Round
Taylor-Britt is yet another fast, instinctive corner with safety experience. DC Lou Anarumo is cooking up different coverage/pressure concepts in his living room as we speed.
3 (95)
Zachary Carter
DE-DT/Florida
145/3rd Round
Carter's ability to slide up-and-down the defensive line for the Gators provided a blueprint for the Bengals. They could use him as a sub-package three-technique on third downs.
4 (136)
Cordell Volson
OT/North Dakota State
417/5th Round
Volson has the size, experience on the edges to become a factor as another swing offensive lineman for the Bengals, who have made it a priority to increase its interior offensive line depth in this year's draft.
5 (166)
Acquired from Arizona via Philadelphia through Houston via Chicago
Tycen Anderson
S-Nickel/Toledo
163/3rd Round
Anderson is yet another defensive back whose overall psyche never seemed to change when challenged inside. He played safety, corner and nickel for the Rockets and handled all of the roles adequately. He is the third Bengals defensive back with 4.3 speed (4.36).
7 (252)
Jeffrey GunterDE-OLB/Coastal Carolina178/4th RoundAt the beginning of the year, many expected Gunter to be a second-or-third-round draft pick, but he ends up potentially being a steal in the seventh round. He took a step back as a senior, but did show inside rush potential in the postseason.
2022 UDFA signings
Rank PlayerPositionsSchoolGradeRoundNasty’ Take
147Devin CochranOTGeorgia Tech, Vanderbilt5.7443rd RoundBlessed with an 86-inch wingspan, could Cochran forge his way onto the Bengals roster this summer? If so, he’ll have to beat talented backup OTs D’Ante Smith (one start) or Isaiah Prince (four starts).
387Shermari JonesRBCoastal Carolina5.095th RoundAt 215 pounds, there is a measure of upside running some of the two-back outside search or stretch concepts many teams employ. With the measure of acceleration he possesses in a 20-to-30-yard stretch, it is not out of the question that he could return kicks.
460Jaivon HeilighWRCoastal Carolina4.835th RoundHis route discipline and body control are aided by 32” arms. The first-team All-Sun Belt WR finished his career with 22 TDs.
462Clarence HicksLBUTSA4.825th RoundHicks often rushed off the edge and defeated tackles as a pass rusher one snap before walking out over the slot on the next play. Hicks was one of the most productive defenders in C-USA football.
474Jack SorensonWRMiami (Ohio)4.785th RoundThe strength is not where it needs to be, hence the continued durability issues. When he’s been healthy, Sorenson was one of the most dangerous receivers in the MAC. He finished with over 1,400 yards receiving this past season.
499Carson WellsOLBColorado4.686th RoundWells has all of the physical tools to perhaps work himself into a role as a stand-up Rush OLB. In 2021, he began to speed up the process as a rusher. Wells finished with 39 career tackles for losses.
532Ben BrownOC-OGOle Miss4.5676th RoundSnaps were a problem at center in 2020 before going down to injury. He has the size and overall quickness to perhaps find an interior role.
590Kendric PryorWRWisconsin4.286th RoundPryor didn’t get a lot of opportunities in a run-based offense, but finished his career with 99 receptions. He also averaged over 10 yards per carry on 40 rushes.
612Tariqious TisdaleDE-DTOle Miss4.1757th RoundTisdale runs in the 4.5-range at 290 pounds and began to flash in 2020. He never took the next step in 2021, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
677Stewart ReeseOG-OTFlorida, Mississippi State3.877th RoundReese, a multi-year starter at two different schools, is a people mover who needs to maintain his weight.
685Brendan Radley-HilesSWashington, Oklahoma3.7217th RoundRadley-Hiles exhibits a short memory and often came back from mistakes as a nickel back at two different stops. Is the size going to translate?
Delonte HoodCBPeru St, Toledo, Glenville StateN/AN/AHood posted eight interceptions at Glenville State in 2019. He ran in the 4.4-range during the postseason and registered eight passes defensed this past season.
Jordan WilsonTEFSU, UCLAN/AN/AAfter flashing early in his career, Wilson resurfaced at FSU. He has size, but can he win as a route runner?
Justin RiggTEKentuckyN/AN/AOne of the best blocking TEs in the draft, Rigg finished with 50 receptions in his career. He could potentially surprise and make the team. He finished with four TDs in 2021.
Cal AdomitisLSPittsburghN/AN/AHe is satisfactory in coverage and generally capable of getting players on the ground if needed. It’s all about the details for Adomitis, who is often seen replicating his short-snapping motion before putting his hands on the ball prior to field goals. He handled even fronts with late twists well dating back to 2019.
Desmond NoelOGFAUN/AN/AHas started at the LG spot. 31 reps at 225 pounds on his Pro Day. He will play through pain. Just 290 pounds. gets caught leaning at the point of attack in the run game (Marshall '20).

It wasn’t until the next decade began that the team got back on a roll, with three of its first five selections in 2010 becoming eventual Pro Bowlers. That group included tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. But they made up for the two-year drought by also drafting Geno Atkins in the fourth round (120th overall). Atkins became an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro.

And in 2011?

That draft yielded seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green and three-time Pro Bowler Any Dalton. Both players recently signed one-year deals at the ages of 33 and 34, respectively.

In 2012, Bengals first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick never made a Pro Bowl, but played through the age of 32. In fact, no players from this draft class ever made a Pro Bowl, but at least five players made it to the age of 30 years old in the NFL.

There have no doubt been misses along the way as well. The next four drafts (2013-2016) yielded just one Pro Bowler, Tyler Eifert (2013), and many of the team’s draft picks flamed out relatively quickly. However, in that same span, the team drafted a number of solid NFL starters that have found success either in Cincinnati or otherwise. Those names include, but are not limited to: Giovani Bernard (2nd Round, 37th overall, 2013), Rex Burkhead (6th Round, 190th overall, 2013), C.J. Uzomah (5th Round, 157th overall, 2015), William Jackson III (1st Round, 24th overall, 2016) and Tyler Boyd (2nd Round, 55th overall, 2016). A seventh-round pick from the 2016 draft class, Clayton Fejedelem, has carved out a respectable career.

In 2017, the team found a building block in Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon (2nd Round, 48th overall). Carl Lawson secured a payday with the New York Jets last offseason and Pro Bowl kicker Jake Elliott (5th Round, 153rd overall) has won a Super Bowl with the Eagles.

The jury is still out on the most recent drafts, but the selections of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Evan McPherson all significantly contributed to the team’s Super Bowl appearance this past season.

Thus, the likelihood of this year’s draft class producing at least two quality starters remains possible. The Bengals added plenty of speed in the secondary, drafting three defensive backs who ran in the sub-4.4-range. Can Daxton Hill beat out incumbent nickel back Mike Hilton for the starting job? If not, then what about Jessie Bates III back deep along with either Hill or fifth-round choice Tycen Anderson. Depth was added along the offensive line the entire offseason and didn’t stop in the draft. NDSU’s Cordell Volson could realistically remain outside, but may very well provide depth on the interior. Zachary Carter put up nine sacks in 2021, but he’s been productive over a two-year period. This team understood that other than on the offensive line, there weren’t many needs on that side of the ball.

2021 NFL Free Agency, Live Updates: NFC North

The NFC North has been relatively quiet for the first couple of days in free agency. The latest splash signing featured the Vikings recent signing of former Arizona Cardinals eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. Please come back for more updates as this is a live document.

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings

Offensive free agents

QB Sean Mannion

RB Ameer Abdullah

RB Mike Boone (Agreed to terms with Broncos)

WR Chad Beebe (Re-signed)

C Brett Jones

G Kyle Hinton

RT Rashod Hill (re-signed)

LG Dakota Dozier

LT Riley Reiff (Agreed to terms with Bengals)

TE Kyle Rudolph (Agreed to terms with Giants)

Defensive free agents

S Anthony Harris

S George Iloka

CB Chris Jones

LB Eric Wilson

LB Todd Davis

LB Hardy Nickerson

DT Jaleel Johnson

DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (Agreed to terms with Giants)

Special Teams

K Dan Bailey

2021 Free Agency report/Other Notes:

  • Re-signed TE Brandon Dillon, RT Rashod Hill
  • Agreed to terms with CB Patrick Peterson (Cardinals), DE Stephen Weatherly (Panthers), DT Dalvin Tomlinson (Giants), Nick Vigil (Chargers)
  • Lost DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (Giants), LT Riley Reiff (Bengals), RB Mike Boone (Broncos)
  • Released K Dan Bailey, TE Kyle Rudolph (Giants)

Detroit Lions

Offensive free agents

RB Adrian Peterson

WR Marvin Jones, Jr. (Agreed to terms with the Jaguars)

WR Kenny Golladay (Agreed to terms with the Giants)

WR Danny Amendola

WR Mohamed Sanu

TE Jesse James

LG Oday Aboushi

LT Matt Nelson (re-signed)

G Joe Dahl

C Russell Bodine

Defensive free agents

DE Everson Griffen

DE Romeo Okwara (re-signed)

SS Duron Harmon

S Miles Killebrew

LB Jarrad Davis (Agreed to terms with Jets)

LB Jason Cabinda (Re-signed)

LB Christian Jones

CB Darryl Roberts

CB Justin Coleman (Agreed to terms with the Dolphins)

CB Desmond Trufant (Agreed to terms with Bears)

CB Tony McRae

CB Mike Ford (re-signed)

CB Jamal Agnew (Agreed to terms with Jaguars)

ILB Reggie Ragland (Agreed to terms with Giants)

LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (re-signed)

Special Teams

K Matt Prater (Agreed to terms with Cardinals)

2021 Free Agency report/Other Notes:

  • Agreed to terms with WR Tyrell Williams (Raiders), TE Josh Hill (Saints)
  • Re-signed DE Romeo Okwara to a three-year deal, CB Mike Ford, LB Jason Cabinda, P Jack Fox, LT Matt Nelson, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  • Lost WR Kenny Golladay (Giants), WR Jamal Agnew (Jaguars), LB Jarrad Davis (Jets), CB Justin Coleman (Dolphins), WR Marvin Jones, Jr. (Jaguars), K Matt Prater (Cardinals), ILB Reggie Ragland (Giants), CB Desmond Trufant (Bears)
  • Traded QB Matthew Stafford to the LA Rams for QB Jared Goff, a 2021 third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023
  • Traded for Los Angeles Rams DT Michael Brockers

Green Bay Packers

Offensive free agents

C Corey Linsley (Agreed to terms with Chargers)

TE Marcedes Lewis

LG Lane Taylor

RT Jared Veldheer

RT Ricky Wagner

WR Tavon Austin

WR Alan Lazard (re-signed)

RB Tyler Ervin

TE Robert Tonyan (re-signed)

RB Aaron Jones (Re-signed)

RB Jamaal Williams (Agreed to terms with the Lions)

QB Tim Boyle

Defensive free agents

CB Kevin King

DT Damon Harrison

ILB Christian Kirksey (Agreed to terms with Texans)

DE Billy Win

ILB James Burgess

DE Montravious Adams

DE Tyler Lancaster

FS Will Redmond

CB Chandon Sullivan

CB Parry Nickerson

OLB Randy Ramsey (re-signed)

CB Kabion Ento

S Raven Greene

2021 Free Agency report/Other Notes

  • Agreed to terms with RB Aaron Jones on a four-year deal
  • Re-signed OLB Preston Smith, WR Devin Funchess, WR Kabion Ento, DE Delontae Scott, C Jake Hanson, WR Allan Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, OLB Randy Ramsey, WR Malik Taylor
  • Lost C Corey Linsley (Chargers), LB Christian Kirksey (Texans), RB Jamaal Williams (Lions)

Chicago Bears

Offensive free agents

QB Mitchell Trubisky (Agreed to terms with Bills)

WR Allen Robinson (Franchised)

WR Cordarrelle Patterson

WR Dwayne Harris

TE Demetrius Harris

RG Germain Ifedi (Re-signed)

LT Jason Spriggs

RG Rashaad Coward

RT Bobby Massie

WR DeAndre Carter

Defensive free agents

DE Roy Robertson-Harris (Agreed to terms with Jaguars)

DE Mario Edwards Jr. (re-signed)

DE Brent Urban

DE James Vaughters (re-signed)

S Deon Bush (Re-signed)

S Sherrick McManis

S Tashaun Gipson

S Deandre Houston-Carson

CB Artie Burns

CB Michael Joseph

CB Buster Skrine

OLB Barkevious Mingo

DT John Jenkins

DT Daniel McCullers

Special Teams

K Cairo Santos (re-signed)

LS Patrick Scales

P Pat O’Donnell (re-signed)

2021 Free Agency report/Other Notes:

  • Agreed to terms with QB Andy Dalton (Cowboys) on a one-year deal
  • Re-signed DE Mario Edwards, Jr., LB James Vaughters, LB Josh Woods, RB Ryan Nall, LG Alex Bars, RT Badara Traore, WR Reggie Davis, TE J.P. Holtz, K Cairo Santos, P Pat O’Donnell, RG Germain Ifedi
  • Lost DE Roy Robertson-Harris (Jaguars), QB Mitchell Trubisky (Bills)
  • Released CB Buster Skrine, CB Kyle Fuller (Broncos)
  • Placed the franchise tag on WR Allen Robinson

2019 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: AFC North

Ferguson, pictured, totaled 26 tackles for losses in 2018 while also posting 17 quarterback sacks. He ended his career as the FBS’ all-time sack leader.

 

Baltimore Ravens Notable picks: First-year GM Eric DeCosta did a very good job of adding layers to the Baltimore offense.  Brown’s challenge will be to hold his weight at the 175-pound mark while not losing his decisive speed.  Ferguson has more pressure to produce than most third-rounders because of the loss of Terrell Suggs in free agency. Boykin will compete with holdovers Jaleel Scott, Chris Moore, and Jordan Lasley for playing time.  Powers helps improve the depth of the interior line.  Will Marshall move to safety?  The addition of Hill provides the team with a home run threat at the running back position.  He will, however, have to fight for playing time.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (25)

Acquired this pick from the Philadelphia Eagles for its 22nd overall pick

Marquise Brown WR/

Oklahoma

77/2nd Round Brown has a chance to become dynamic in the Ravens offense in a different type of way than he was at Oklahoma.  Expect to see him used on fly sweeps, seam routes, shallow crossers, nine routes and post patterns.  Will he be a fit with fellow Florida native Lamar Jackson? Physical cornerbacks have competed well against him in the past.
3 (85) Jaylon

Ferguson

DE/

Louisiana Tech

20/2nd Round After a subpar postseason, Ferguson saw his stock slide despite breaking former Ravens’ OLB Terrell Suggs’ all-time NCAA sack record.  Ferguson plays even longer than his size would indicate and he may have to bully tackles early on.  He has a 10-yard burst.
3 (93) Miles Boykin WR/Notre Dame 48/2nd Round Boykin is an upside pick after just one year of high-level production, but he did draw as many pass interference calls as any receiver in this year’s draft.  Can he build on his breakout final year in school?
4 (113)

Acquired from Minnesota

Justice Hill RB/

Oklahoma State

55/2nd Round Hill has the burst to slip-and-slide in-between the tackles on gut runs.  His 4.4 speed is aided by an underrated ability to at least compete in pass protection. 
4 (123) Ben Powers OG/

Oklahoma

136/3rd Round If Powers can sustain blocks with more efficiency, then his ability to gain position can be effective in the NFL.  He excels with hand placement initially and passes off line games well.  His experience gives the team comfort he can translate to the next level.
4 (127)

Acquired from Philadelphia

Iman

Marshall

DB/USC 120/3rd Round It is hard to find cornerbacks who have started 48 games in school.  The Ravens found Marshall, who is physical enough to perhaps transition to the safety spot.  In a crowded cornerback room, he may be asked to shift to the safety spot in nickel/dime packages.
5 (160) Daylon Mack DT/Texas A&M 185/3rd Round The former five-star recruit’s big knock didn’t revolve around power or explosion at 330-plus pounds.  It basically comes down to endurance.  We think he can give the team a solid 20 snaps a game if needed and those snaps can be impactful. 
6 (197) Trace

McSorley

QB/Penn State 101/3rd Round We felt McSorley was one of the better quarterbacks in this year’s draft, but his final year at Penn State included a knee injury that affected his accuracy.  While most expect him to play a variety of roles for the team, we think he can be productive under center in at least a backup capacity.

 

Finley’s experience includes stints at two different schools. He led the ACC in completion percentage (67.4%) in 2018.

Cincinnati Bengals Notable picks: The Bengals were fixated on finding more competition along its offensive line and Williams will be asked to move back to his original spot in college, right tackle.  Sample is underrated as a receiver, but his true value comes as a blocker for a team intent on running the ball effectively.  Pratt’s foot speed will give him an opportunity to compete for a spot in DC Lou Anarumo’s schemes. Can Finley’s experience and maturity actually challenge Andy Dalton?
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (11) Jonah Williams OT/Alabama 46/2nd Round Williams’ experience includes starts at both the right and left tackle spots.  He is an outstanding run blocker with positive bend and mobility.  After whiffing on a number of outside tackles in prior drafts, the Bengals hope to strike gold with the former ‘Tide stalwart.
2 (52) Drew

Sample

TE/

Washington

277/4th Round Sample amplified his draft stock when he ran in the low 4.7-range at 255 pounds.  He is getting better at the little things when it comes to running routes (sinking his weight, using his size, etc..).  He can play multiple spots. 
3 (72) Germaine Pratt LB/North Carolina State 223/4th Round If Pratt -a former safety- can improve his stack-and-shed, we think he can compete early for a spot.  He has had some shoulder issues in the past, but is a fine blitz threat with good ball skills to finish interception opportunities.
4 (103) Ryan Finley QB/NC State 64/2nd Round Finley’s accurate and flexible nature is demonstrated with a quick release when his feet stay quiet in the pocket.  His playing style could fit well in Zac Taylor’s offensive schemes.
4 (125)

Acquired from Denver via Houston

Renell Wren DT/Arizona State 280/4th Round Wren played his best football late in his career but was quietly productive over a two-year stretch.  He gives the teams options in terms of moving their defensive fronts. 
4 (136)

Compensatory pick acquired via Dallas

Michael

Jordan

OG/Ohio State 131/3rd Round Jordan will get the opportunity to move back to the guard spot and play alongside former Buckeye teammate and Bengals center Billy Price.  It could prove to be a winning combination for the Bengals.
6 (182) Trayveon Williams RB/

Texas A&M

71/2nd Round It is hard to find players who rush for over 1,700 yards available in the sixth round, but there were questions surrounding Williams’ true change of direction after ordinary postseason workouts.  A closer look reveals a back capable of slipping in-and-out of tight quarters with burst and power packed into a 206-pound frame.
6 (210) Deshaun Davis LB/Auburn 150/3rd Round Davis is an instinctive linebacker who fits, wraps and seeks to inflict pain on opponents.  He got knocked for a bit of stiffness in pass coverage.  He finished his career with 266 tackles and 29 tackles for losses. 
6 (211) Rodney

Anderson

RB/

Oklahoma

246/4th Round Anderson’s talent has never been in question, but his injury history is concerning.  He is a pick that could reap major rewards if he is able to stay unscathed over the next year and a half.  The former Sooner has soft hands and is good in pass protection. 
7 (223) Jordan Brown CB/South Dakota State 90/3rd Round For the team to pick up one of the draft’s better cornerbacks in terms of size and footwork is a potential heist.  Brown, an FCS All-American, trusts his instincts, tackles well enough and may be able to play multiple spots on the backend. 

Redwine (No. 22 pictured), a former cornerback, impressed teams with 4.44 speed, a 39-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-10-inch broad jump and 4.14 20-yard short shuttle at the 2019 NFL Combine.

Cleveland Browns  Notable picks: Williams and Takitaki both have question marks surrounding different aspects of their games.  Redwine has a load of talent and the former cornerback should be able to operate effectively in man coverage versus tight ends.  Mack Wilson’s eye control will determine his ultimate place on the roster, but his kickoff coverage ability will be a bonus while he develops.  An uncertain kicking situation led to the pick of Seibert, who hasn’t had a number of pressure-packed kicks on his resume’.  Forbes’ selection indicates the team is still looking for competition on the flanks of its offensive line. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (46) Greedy Williams CB/LSU 45/2nd Round Williams has to play more physical to survive in a division that prides itself on that style of play.  His cover skills, short memory and outstanding ball skills give him an opportunity to earn playing time opposite Denzel Ward.
3 (80) Sione Takitaki LB/BYU 191/3rd Round Although his space tackling is an issue, he did improve in pass coverage slightly as a senior.  The Browns linebacker corps features a ton of speed, hard hitters and undervalued prospects coming out of the college ranks.  Takitaki fits the bill, but his discipline in pass coverage will ultimately determine whether he can find a role.
4 (119) Sheldrick

Redwine

S/Miami (Fla.) 196/4th Round The former CB has the hip flexibility to cover most tight ends and occasionally matches up with slot WRs effectively (UNC ’18).  His skill-set is very similar to current Browns safety Damarious Randall. 
5 (155) Mack Wilson LB/Alabama 42/2nd Round Despite starring in pass coverage in 2017, Wilson’s inconsistent eye control caused a precipitous fall on draft weekend.  His pad level needs to improve stacking-and-shedding OL (see SEC Champ ’18).  We think he is one of the best kickoff cover guys in the entire 2019 NFL Draft class.
5 (170)

Acquired from New England

Austin Seibert PK/

Oklahoma

596/6th Round Seibert carries a slight right-to-left drift on some of his shorter field goals in the NFL’s extra point range (33-yd GW FG miss, Army ’18).  In addition, he has left some returnable kickoff opportunities for opponents (TCU ’18).  On the plus side, he connected on 80-percent of his career field goal attempts, has range up to about 60 yards and can even be an effective punter in a pinch.  He placed 65 punts inside the 20-yard line during school. 
6 (189) Drew Forbes OG/

SE Missouri State

N/A Forbes ran in the 4.9-range, pumped out 28 reps at 225 pounds, and posted a 30 1/2-inch vertical jump on his Pro Day.  His footwork may give him an opportunity to play the tackle spot, the position he played at in school. 
7 (221)

Acquired from

Jacksonville

Donnie Lewis CB-Nickel/Tulane 158/3rd Round Lewis was one of the more active cornerbacks in the AAC over the last two seasons.  He routinely challenged WRs in man coverage. Postseason injury issues caused him to fall in the draft. He also has experience covering in the slot.

Snell, the Steelers fourth-round selection, was a major factor for Kentucky in the fourth quarters of games. His style fits the personality of the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers Notable picks: GM Kevin Colbert and his scouting department apparently came into this draft looking to increase the team’s speed at the linebacker spot and on special teams.  Bush, Gilbert and Smith go a long way towards reaching that goal. For the second straight year, the team drafted an Alabama defensive lineman on Day 3 of the draft process.  Justin Layne adds a long corner to a group really devoid of size on the edges.  If Johnson can duplicate former WR Antonio Brown’s younger years as a punt return specialist, it could amplify his role within the offense. 
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (20)

Acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos that sent them the 20th overall pick in the first round

Devin Bush LB/Michigan 11/1st Round Bush, our top-ranked linebacker, brings 4.43 speed and plenty of explosion to the Steelers defense.  The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year’s mentality brings a tone-setting edge to the team’s defense. 
3 (66)

Acquired from Oakland

Diontae

Johnson

All-Purpose/Toledo 189/3rd Round Johnson’s instant nature gives the team the hope that they may have found yet another gem from the MAC.  We think he offers major upside in the return game.  The 2018 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year averaged 18.5 yards per punt return as a junior and 20.2 yards per punt return in his career (2 TDs).  He also returned two kickoffs for scores while in school. 
3 (83) Justin Layne CB/Michigan State 53/2nd Round Layne is a smooth bail-and-run corner with decent fluidity.  The former WR got better as his career went along, but his sense of urgency has to improve when playing off of wideouts.
4 (122) Benny Snell RB/

Kentucky

146/3rd Round The fourth quarter finisher will compete with James Connor to finish off games. Snell’s attitude and energetic style will be a complement to the team’s running back by committee-approach.  He finished his career with 48 touchdowns. Controlling his emotions will be a big key. 
5 (141)

Acquired from Oakland

Zach Gentry TE/Michigan 448/5th Round The former New Mexico high school four-star QB recruit didn’t develop into a prized signal-caller, but he did become one of the best tight ends in the Big Ten working from the inside-out on pass patterns. Ordinary workouts likely caused a bit of a slide, but he averaged 16.1 yards per reception for the Wolverines in 2018. 
6 (175)

Acquired from Oakland

Sutton Smith LB/Northern Illinois 143/3rd Round Smith’s impressive work in terms of flexibility gives the team hope that he can develop into an exchange linebacker.  With such a knack for rushing the passer off the edge, the hope for the Steelers is his knack for timing can develop from a number of spots.  He finished his career with 30 QB sacks and 58 tackles for losses in just 39 games. 
6 (192) Isaiah Buggs DL/Alabama 319/4th Round Buggs is an intense two-gap defender who relies on power, but he is actually more efficient with his angles as a pass rusher.  He could line up as a three-technique in some of their fronts or the inside shade defensive end in others.  He has value at this spot in the draft. 
6 (207)

Compensatory pick acquired from Arizona

Ulysees Gilbert LB/Akron 313/4th Round The Zips playmaker finished with 112 tackles in a breakout junior campaign but took a bit of a step back in 2018.  He runs in the high 4.4-to-low 4.5-range and will get plenty of opportunities as a core special teams player. 
7 (219)

Acquired from Tampa Bay

Derwin Gray OT/Maryland 368/5th Round Gray has shown that he can sit in the chair and he often plays with an offensive guard’s demeanor.  He possesses adequate length to remain on the edge, but he has to stay healthy.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-30-18: In-game report

The Steelers squeaked past the Bengals but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs.  Despite a 16-13 victory, a number of midseason disappointments allowed the Baltimore Ravens to walk away with the AFC North division title. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Steelers spread attack

The Steelers employed the spread attack as its primary offensive set during the regular season and this included the season finale against the Bengals.  It allowed them to get their playmakers out in space but it did leave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger susceptible to increased pressure from four-man fronts.  Cincinnati only sacked Big Ben once, but they were able to get him off his throwing spot without blitzing while still keeping two safeties high.  With Antonio Brown out, Roethlisberger started the game by throwing seven completions to five different receivers.  A majority of these passes were wide receiver screens and slants.  As was my concern early in the season, Roethlisberger did fall back into a pattern of turning the football over, not only against the Bengals but all season long. For the game, Roethlisberger finished with one passing touchdown, one interception and 287 passing yards on 68-percent passing.  James Conner led the team with 64 rushing yards on 14 carries. As the Steelers assess their 2018 season offensively, look for them to carry over their spread principles into next year while also finding ways to cut down on the turnovers. 

Turnover differential 

Pittsburgh ranked sixth in scoring offense and were in the top ten in passing yards and rushing yards allowed.  The offensive and defensive stats tell a story of a successful season but turnovers doomed the Steelers and almost cost them their game against the Bengals.  In 2018, Pittsburgh finished with a -11 turnover differential, which ranked 28th in the NFL.  The other four teams with a worst differential than the Steelers were Arizona, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tampa Bay, all teams who finished with losing records.  Against Cincinnati, Roethlisberger threw a pick- six to Shawn Williams, which represented the Bengals’ only touchdown for the game.  Defensively, Pittsburgh was not able to force the Bengals, who were missing wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, into any mistakes. 

Cincinnati playmakers 

Cincinnati All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green caught 46 passes for 694 yards and six touchdowns despite appearing in just nine games in 2018.

With A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert out, it was evident that the Bengals just didn’t have the firepower to get players open against the Steelers.  Alex Erickson caught all six of his targets for 63 yards and was able to work over the middle but his longest catch was for just 13 yards.  The Bengals next most productive reviewer was Auden Tate, who caught one pass for 15 yards. Joe Mixon ran for 105 yards and finished with 1,168 yards on the season. The 22- year-old running back should be able to be relied upon for the long- term, but look for the Bengals to continue to try and develop their young playmakers like John Ross, a former Top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.