With questions looming around the team’s offense with the both the Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco-eras nearing an end, the Cincinnati Bengals profoundly turned the page with their early selections in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Round 1 (4th overall) – WR A.J. Green, Georgia
Many scouts have tagged Green as the best wide receiver to enter the league over the past decade. At 6-foot-4, 211 pounds, Green best compares to Larry Fitzgerald and assuming he stays healthy could become even better than the Cardinals’ wideout. He has long arm and great hands and has the ability to go up and get the ball. He played in a pro-style offense at Georgia and should make an immediate impact. There was an issue of being suspended four games last year for selling a jersey to an agent, but it is important to note that his teammates still voted him as the Bulldogs’ MVP. His arrival will allow the Bengals to cut Chad Ochocinco and turn the page with Green as their new No. 1 wideout.
Round 2 (35th overall) – QB Andy Dalton, TCU
In a year that was supposed to be a down year at quarterback, four different signal callers were selected in the draft’s first 12 picks. That makes the fact that the Bengals got the guy they “wanted along” in the second round even better. Dalton (6-2, 210) led the Horned Frogs to a perfect 13-0 mark as a senior, setting several school and conference records along the way. He may lack some of the elite characteristics that many scouts love, but Dalton has good arm strength, a quick release and is an accurate thrower. He benefited greatly from playing in TCU’s spread offense so it will be interesting to see him adjust to the pro game. He’s smart and has demonstrated great leadership, something the Bengals have lacked in recent years.
Round 3 (66th overall) – DL Dontay Moch, Nevada
After playing defensive end in college, Moch (6-1, 248) will have to make the move to linebacker at the pro level. He may struggle getting off blocks, but his 4.4 40 speed (combine) will allow him to get a step on most tackles. Moch needs to develop other parts of his game, but his ability as a speed rusher off the edge is tremendous. Look for Bengals’ defensive coordinator to find a role for him in passing situations, similar to the way that Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap contributed during their rookie campaigns over the past two seasons.
BENGALS TURNED DOWN TRADE - According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer there were some discussions earlier in the week with Atlanta in which the Falcons offered their first-, second- and fourth-round picks this year and a first and fourth next year to trade up to the Bengals first round pick. The Falcons also wanted Green but wound up making the same trade with the Cleveland Browns, which had the sixth overall selection. Atlanta then chose Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
FINAL GRADE: B+ - It's hard to argue with the value the Bengals got with their first three picks and they filled positions of need as well. However, turning down all of those picks could be something the team regrets down the road, just as it did in 1999 when they turned down all of the Saints' picks (who coveted Ricky Williams) and opted to go with QB Akili Smith at the No. 3 pick. The big difference here is AJ Green is no Akili Smith.
College Football, NFL