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Bengals 2014 Draft Grades

6 Jun

I was going through my Bengals draft grades since 2010 and realized I never fully wrote my feelings on the Bengals 2014 draft class with grades.
1.24 – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
This is who I thought they’d pick with only a couple weeks leading up to the NFL Draft. Cincinnati wanted a CB and Dennard was their third ranked CB on their board and ended up being the third CB drafted out of five in the first round.

Why I like this pick: Dennard is game-ready. He should be able to, at the very least, start in Nickel packages as a rookie. I think he can push for a starting job also. Dennard is a Physical, man-cover CB that is very experienced and was highly productive at MSU.

Why I didn’t like this pick: Dennard graded out as my 4th ranked CB and I liked Jason Verrett and Phillip Gaines more; both were available at 24. Dennard is an average athlete that relies on Physical coverage to stay with receivers. This could make or break him in the NFL if he doesn’t walk the fine line between fair and foul.

Value: B
Fit: A
Draft Grade: B+

2.55 – Jeremy Hill – RB – LSU
The Bengals draft the second RB of the 2014 Draft to pair with the first back drafted in 2013 in Gio Bernard. The running game is obviously going to be used much more in the coming years.

Why I like this pick: Jeremy Hill was a very productive and physical runner in the SEC. He’s relatively young and hasn’t taken the usual punishment coming out of college. Hill provides an immediate upgrade to Benjarvus Green-Ellis and adds a power/speed combo that isn’t easily found.

Why I didn’t like this pick: Where’s the value? The Bengals have potentially a top-5 NFL running back in Bernard and a player that should be a focal point of their offense and they decide to spend their second-round pick on a running back with character issues? How many carries can Hill get unless Bernard gets injured? I wanted to upgrade from Green-Ellis also, but almost any RB drafted could’ve provided that. There was talent to be had at RB all the way through round-six in UCF runner Storm Johnson. Hill needs work in pass protection and patience/vision. He works better with a FB in front of him. This is all the opposite of Gio Bernard. The interchanging of the two should be interesting.

Value: F
Fit: C+
Draft Grade: C-

3.88 – Will Clarke – DE – West Virginia
The Bengals take their Defensive End prototype to help replace the DE Mold they lost in free agency in Michael Johnson. Clarke seemed like a Bengals target from mid February.

Why I like this pick: Clarke played the majority of his college career as a 5-tech defensive end in a 3-3-5 scheme. I think that’s why his numbers weren’t very impressive and why he could still have some untapped potential. He’s long and athletic; just how the Bengals like them. He was also awarded as the hardest working player on the WVU team.

Why I didn’t like this pick: This year’s 4-3 Defensive End class was WEAK. Probably the poorest group I’ve seen in five-years. In others drafts, Clarke would’ve been a Day-3 pick. On the field, Clarke is stiff, late and doesn’t posses enough strength for a quality power move or run defense. This, coming from a guy that was a gym room standout at WVU. He needs work, but the Bengals need a pass rusher now. This was a need pick.

Value: D+
Fit: B+
Draft Grade: D+

4th Round – Russell Bodine – C/G – North Carolina
The Bengals traded up to draft a Center they felt could come in and compete for playing time as a rookie. Marvin Lewis said Bodine was a guy he wanted throughout the draft.

Why I liked this pick: The confidence the coaching staff has expressed in the Bodine pick gets the fan base excited. The Bengals needed interior OL help and Bodine potential provides that. His nasty streak can be seen on film.

Why I didn’t like this pick: We had Bodine graded as a Day-3/UDFA prospect. Yes, he tested very well at the Combine in most areas, but he RARELY shows that ability on the field. Bodine is very poor in space and in the second level, he over-extends in pass protection and gets beat often and often looked overmatched in college. His strengths and weaknesses are very similar to the Bengals last starting center – Kyle Cook. He’s not ready to play in 2014 and would have to evolve drastically for this pick to work out in the long run. Oh and they traded up to get him.

Value: D
Fit: B
Draft Grade: D

5th Round – AJ McCarron – QB – Alabama
The Bengals finally draft a QB, but it’s one that won’t threaten Andy Dalton at all. Maybe that was the idea?

Why I liked this pick: McCarron is highly experienced coming out of college and should develop into a very solid NFL backup. He’s very similar to Dalton, so you can keep a similar offense for both QBs if you need to actually use the backup in a game.

Why I didn’t like this pick: McCarron is another weak-armed, “winning” QB that makes fans feel warm and fuzzy, but the truth is he’s a limited player that still needs work despite his massive experience. He’s not ready to play and won’t push Andy Dalton in any way. This was a wasted pick if they were looking for a potential upgrade at QB. I would’ve like to see Keith Wenning as the pick here.

Value: C
Fit: C+
Draft Grade: C-

6th Round – Marquise Flowers – OLB – Arizona State
This was a pick that I pegged thanks to some great tips. Flowers is the type of LB they’ve been adding over the last few years.

Why I liked this pick: Flowers is highly athletic and plays naturally in coverage. He reminds me of the type of prospect they saw in Emmanuel Lamur as a rookie. I expect Flowers to enjoy a spot on the bottom of the roster for a year until he can get stronger and develop in the physical game.

Why I didn’t like this pick: When Telvin Smith (FSU – Jags) gets drafted in the fifth round and Flowers goes in the sixth, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth, but as a late-round prospect, Flowers has good upside.

Value: B
Fit: B
Draft Grade: B+

7th Round – James Wright – WR – LSU
The Bengals double dip from the LSU offense with a player that didn’t have much offensive production in college.

Why I liked this pick: Wright is a big body that can run and he’s a special teams standout. He should be fighting for one of the final roster spots and if he can win a gunner job in camp, Wright will make this team as the final WR and be active on game days.

Why I didn’t like this pick: Core special teams players can be found anywhere, but spending a 7th on one isn’t the worst thing you can do. I do wish Wright had more production on offense. LSU runs a very pro-style system and his experience or lack thereof may have an affect.

Value: C+
Fit: B
Draft Grade: C+

7th Round – Lavelle Westbrooks – CB – Georgia Southern

Why I liked this pick: Westbrooks caught my eye a couple times at the Senior Bowl and I wrote his name down to watch again after.

Why I didn’t like this pick: Because I never went back and watched him after the Senior Bowl.

Value: B-
Fit: C+
Draft Grade: C+

OVERALL GRADE: C
I felt like the Bengals knew exactly who they were targeting throughout this draft and made sure they selected each one of them. When I can pick out a few of these guys and the Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham calls out Hill, Clarke and Bodine before day-2, it tells me that they were drafting for needs and fits rather than using the BPA model that has flooded them with praise since 2009. When you draft for need, you better be right, because you’re usually passing on better players. We’ll see how this worked out in a few years.

2010 Bengals Draft Grade
2011 Bengals Draft Grade
2012 Bengals Draft Grade
2013 Bengals Draft Grade

Magneto Build

22 May

*Started with one of those plastic football helmets. Removed the facemask and any buttons/bolts.
*Used wire mesh & cut out a mold for the neck and chin pieces. Screwed it into the helmet and then used drywall fill to sculpt it.

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*Cut a piece for the triangular peak that goes between the eyes.
* Sanding & molding. Sanding & molding.

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*Added some red paint before it’s finished because I was looking for the right color.

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*More drywall filler and more sanding…
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*Used a metallic paint first. It helped show imperfections and also looked really cool.
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*More molding, filling and sanding. Then the red paint that I think looked the best.
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*Used play dough to mold the crown piece. Let it dry, painted it, and screwed it into the helmet.
*Used craft foam-paper to cut out the purple boarder around the helmet. Super glued it on.
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*Finishing the purple edging.
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*Helmet all finished. Added padding on the inside around the edge, top and forehead.

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*Bought one of those Lycra full body suits. Used purple spray paint to add muscles and paint the neck area purple.
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*Cut out a foam chest piece and bought the Styrofoam half-balls from a craft store. Painted them purple with silver shaded on the top for metal effect.
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*Spay Painted gloves, under wear, a belt and gauntlets for the arms and legs.
* Bought purple metallic fabric for a cape.
* Attached chest piece, cape, shoulder pads to backpack straps for mobility.
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*My son was Wolverine.
I think the Magneto came together pretty good. Some of the foam and super glue didn’t agree for the whole day, but overall it’s held together nicely.

Using Quarterback Rating to Find Consistency and How It Ranks Andy Dalton

13 Nov

I’m not usually into mainstream statistics or wins/losses when it comes to applying them to Quarterbacks and their level of success. The Quarterback Rating is one that often gets thrown around and misrepresented by fans and media. It can be a flawed statistic. It doesn’t take into account when or how an interception was thrown. It doesn’t include rushing yards or touchdowns or fumbles. It’s a blanket statistic to show how well the team’s passing offense played in a particular game.

In recent years, I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that modern day football is massively reliant on passing success and if your QB plays better than their QB. That’s it. If you can limit the interceptions and force mistakes upon the opposing QB, you’ll win most of your games. I’ve used Interception Ratio to amplify these conclusions and simplifying Quarterback Rating is another way to fortify my beliefs.

Simplifying QB Rating
I decided to split this statistic up into two simple categories:
Bad Games – Less than 70.0 QB Rating. (22.7 winning percentage among QBs I looked at)
Good Games – Better than 90.0 QB Rating (73.7 winning percentage among QBs I looked at)

I divided them because rarely does a season’s QB Rating depict the ups and downs of a Quarterback’s season. Example: Andy Dalton’s 2013 QB Rating has hovered around an 87 for much of his career. Yet, he’s only had 6 career games between an 80-90 QB Rating. So how has he really played?

Andy Dalton
The ups and downs of Dalton’s young career have left a rift in the Bengals fan base and analysts. The good games are great and they’re winning, but the bad games are terrible and they’re losing. This could be said for any signal-caller as the team goes as the QB goes. But, what surprised me was how often Andy Dalton has a Good Game (90+). He’s had 18 in his first 44 career games and the Bengals are 16-2 in these games. They’re virtually unbeatable when their passing game is efficient combined with the talented roster they own. To put that into a percentage, Dalton and the Bengals are at their peak 40.9% of their games.
Then I looked at the Bad Games (-70). Now I wasn’t so surprised that he’s had 16 career games of this type. Inconsistency has been his issue and the Bengals can’t overcome these games as they’re 4-12 when Dalton’s QB Rating is below 70.0 — and that’s 36.4% of their games where it doesn’t matter how the rest of the team played. They’re more than likely losing.

As I’m posting these numbers on twitter, somebody asks – “So is that good? What’s a normal expectation?”

That’s always the question to ask, so I looked up numbers from 8 other Quarterbacks in Dalton’s league, 4 Quarterbacks in the Elite category, and then 4 more in the Above Average range. Here’s what I came up with…

*Stats from 2011 to 2013*

Leaders in Good Games

1. Peyton Manning – 88.5%
2. Aaron Rodgers – 80.5%
3. Drew Brees – 72.1%
4. Russell Wilson – 71.4%
5. Colin Kaepernick – 65.0%
6. Tom Brady – 63.8%
7. Matt Ryan – 63.6%
8. Tony Romo – 61.9%
9. Robert Griffin – 56.0%
10. Jake Locker – 52.6%
11. Cam Newton – 48.8%
12. Joe Flacco – 46.8%
13. Andy Dalton – 40.9%
14. Ryan Tannehill – 38.5%
15. Andrew Luck – 30.8%
16. Christian Ponder – 27.3%
2004-2006 Carson Palmer – 60.0%

Least Amount Of Bad Games

1. Aaron Rodgers – 2.4%
2. Peyton Manning – 3.8%
3. Drew Brees – 4.7%
4. Robert Griffin III – 12.0%
5. Tom Brady – 12.8%
6. Matt Ryan – 13.6%
7. Tony Romo – 14.3%
8. Colin Kaepernick – 15.0%
9. Russell Wilson – 17.9%
10. Jake Locker – 26.3%
11. Cam Newton – 26.8%
12. Andrew Luck – 26.9%
13. Joe Flacco – 27.7%
14. Ryan Tannehill – 34.6%
15. Andy Dalton – 36.4%
16. Christian Ponder – 42.4%
2004-2006 Carson Palmer – 24.4%

The Bengals Are Cool, Run Read-Option on MNF

18 Sep

The coolest new toy on the NFL block is the read-option. I mean, try it. Everyone is totally doing it. All the good teams run the read-option. You can’t get addicted to it on the first read. Trust me.

On Monday night, Cincinnati actually ran a couple read-option plays. I’m not sure if Dalton planned on running if the situation presented itself, but the threat evens the playing field from a numbers standpoint. Here’s the first play:

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* First & 10 early in the first quarter.
* Green-Ellis is a yard behind and to Dalton’s left.

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* Dalton puts the ball into BJGE’s belly and reads the edge rusher (yellow); the blitzing Nickel CB.
* If the CB looks to crash down (blue) and attack the RB, Dalton will pull it back and keep it himself.
* If the CB looks like he’s going after the ball, Dalton will allow BJGE to keep the ball and run.

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* Dalton gives the ball to BJGE and he takes it up field and cuts between the LT & LG.
* Dalton runs left as if he still has the ball to keep the CB’s attention a little longer.

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* Green-Ellis cuts it up field and gains yardage without needing to make a defender miss. That’s the numbers advantage of the read-option. Instead of the RB having (in theory) 9 blockers against 11 defenders, the read-option forces the defense to account for the QB and makes it now 9 blockers vs 10 defenders (The 11th defender is chasing the QB).

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* BJGE finishes the run with authority.

And that’s how you can be cool in the NFL.

Waiver Wire Potential Pickups

1 Sep

The Bengals have announced their 53-man roster, but in reality, the roster will never be finalized. There are injuries, waiver claims, free agent signings and unforeseen development of players.

Currently, the Bengals are looking for a long, rangy, athletic linebacker that can replace the injured Emmanuel Lamur. If there were a player with all of Lamur’s qualities, he’s probably already on a 53-man roster. Instead, the team will need to look for a diamond in the rough; somebody with the physical talents that they can quickly mold.

I’ve reviewed the NFL’s transaction list from the past two days and narrowed my Interest List to five players that could potentially help the Bengals.

1. Bryan ScottBuffalo Bills – 32 years old – 10 years experience – 6’1″ – 220 lbs
Scott has played Safety and Linebacker for the Bills, but his role was as their Nickel LB. He’s a bit of a tweener and doesn’t run as well as he used to. Scott is a team-first player that can help on special teams also. He may allow the Bengals to release a safety instead of a LB because he can play there in emergency. Scott is the only player on this list that wouldn’t need to be claimed. He is a free agent.

2. Terrell ManningPackers – 23 years old – 2nd NFL year (5th round, 2012) – 6’2″ – 237 lbs
Manning is still young enough to offer some upside. He was my 132nd overall player in last year’s draft. He ran a respectable 4.62 at the NFL combine and showed speed at NC State. He’s a weak-side LB and potentially a Nickel backer.

3. Brandon MarshallJaguars – 23 years old – 2nd NFL year (5th round, 2012) – 6’1″ – 238 lbs
Marshall lost the battle for the Jaguars final LB spot, but he offers athleticism, speed and special teams. At Nevada, he was known as a “very hungry” player that did everything right. I have to think there’s still something here and the Bengals desperately need the athleticism Marshall offers.

4. James Michael-JohnsonBrowns – 24 years old – 2nd NFL season (4th round, 2012) – 6’1″ – 238 lbs
JMJ was my 108th ranked draft prospect in 2012, but he hasn’t tapped that potential in Cleveland. He’s more of an MLB, but JMJ shows some decent straight line speed (4.6 forty).

5. Winston Guy (S)Seahawks – 23 years old – 2nd NFL season (6th round, 2012) – 6’1″ – 220 lbs
Like the first player I listed, Guy may be too big for safety in the NFL. Although the Bengals may also like him for that reason, Winston Guy’s future in the NFL may be as a nickel LB. Seattle had plans of using him in a three-safety Dime package and the Bengals would be wise to get another DB on the field in place of a LB. Guy, like the veteran Scott, could kill two birds with one stone (LB/S).

Predicting The 2013 Bengals Final Roster

30 Aug

Quarterback (2)
1. Andy Dalton
2. Josh Johnson
PUP: Zac Robinson

Running Back (5)
1. Giovani Bernard
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
3. Cedric Peerman
4. Rex Burkhead
5. John Connor (FB)
PUP: Chris Pressley

Wide Receiver (6)
1. A.J. Green
2. Mohamed Sanu
3. Marvin Jones
4. Brandon Tate
5. Ryan Whalen
6. (IR-Recall) Andrew Hawkins

Tight End (3)
1. Jermaine Gresham
2. Tyler Eifert
3. Orson Charles

Offensive Line (9)
1. Andre Smith
2. Kevin Zeitler
3. Andrew Whitworth
4. Clint Boling
5. Kyle Cook
6. Anthony Collins
7. Tanner Hawkinson
8. Trevor Robinson
9. Mike Pollak

——————————–

Defensive Line (9)
1. Geno Atkins
2. Carlos Dunlap
3. Michael Johnson
4. Wallace Gilberry
5. Devon Still
6. Domata Peko
7. Robert Geathers
8. Margus Hunt
9. Brandon Thompson

Linebackers (7)
1. Vontaze Burfict
2. Rey Maualuga
3. James Harrison
4. Emmanuel Lamur
5. Vincent Rey
6. J.K. Schaffer
7. Jayson DiManche

Cornerbacks (6)
1. Leon Hall
2. Terrance Newman
3. Adam Jones
4. Dre Kirkpatrick
5. Brandon Ghee

Safety (4)
1. Reggie Nelson
2. George Iloka
3. Shawn Williams
4. Jeromy Miles

Special Teams (3)
Kevin Huber
Mike Nugent
Clark Harris

———————————-

Practice Squad (8)
1. Dan Herron
2. Cobi Hamilton
3. Reid Fragel
4. Dontay Moch
5. Tony Dye
6. Chris Lewis-Harris
7. Terrance Stephens
8. QB Signed

7 Inactive on Gameday
1. Rex Burkhead
2. Emmanuel Lamur (Injured)
3. Mike Pollak (injured)
4. Margus Hunt
5. Brandon Thompson
6. Shaun Prater
7. Brandon Ghee

Cuts With Interest Around NFL
1. John Skelton
2. Dontay Moch
3. Dennis Roland
4. Chris Lewis-Harris
5. Cobi Hamilton
6. Taylor Mays
7. Shaun Prater
8. Dane Sanzenbacher

Week 2 Preseason Roster Projection

19 Aug

OFFENSE (25)

QB (2): Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson

RB (4): Gio Bernard, Green-Ellis, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead

WR (6): AJ Green, Mo Sanu, Marvin Jones, Brandon Tate, *Andrew Hawkins*, Dane Sanzenbacher

TE (4): Jermain Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Alex Smith, Orson Charles

OL (9): Whitworth, Andre Smith, Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling, Kyle Cook, Trevor Robinson, Mike Pollack, Anthony Collins, Tanner Hawkinson

DEFENSE (25)

DL (9): Atkins, Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Peko, Gilberry, Geathers, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson

LB (6): Burfict, Maualuga, Harrison, Lamur, Rey, Schaffer

CB (5): Leon Hall, Terrance Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon Ghee

S (5): Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Jeromy Miles, Taylor Mays

ST (3): Nugent, Huber, Harris

IR: Sean Porter
PUP: Chris Pressley, Bernard Scott, Zac Robinson

Practice Squad (8): Herron, Prater, Tony Dye, TJ Johnson, Reid Fragel, Cobi Hamilton, Onterio McCalebb, Jayson DiManche

8 Inactives: Burkhead, Hawkinson, S.Williams, DiManche, Ghee, Hunt, Thompson, T.Robinson

Players claimable/signable for other teams: Skelton, Connor, Roland, Lewis-Harris, Q.Sharpe