the Cincinnati Bengal has had some promising draft picks in recent years, but few turned out to be the players they expected.
Since 2014, more than half of their first-round picks have left the team. A few days ago, Cincinnati traded the 2018 pick # 21 Billy Price to the New York Giants in exchange for defensive tackle BJ Hill and a conditional pick in the seventh round.
Before Price played John Ross, Pick No. 9 from 2017, four years with the Bengals, mostly below average, and signed with the Giants in March.
The Bengals first graders from 2014 to 2016 (Darqueze Dennard, Cedric Ogbuehi, and William Jackson) were also offloaded, with Jackson and Dennard recording only average production numbers during their tenure in Cincinnati.
Every first round player at that time was available for a constantly shaky Bengals team, but none really matched his “first round” potential. And none of them stayed.
So what about all the disappointment?
It could be as simple as that: The Bengals have drafted poorly in recent history.
That opinion could change depending on how Jonah Williams, Joe Burrow, and Ja’Marr Chase fare in 2021, but even these first rounds have their own set of obstacles.
Cincinnati Bengals: The sad series of disappointing first rounds continues with Billy Price
Williams missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury and suffered from injuries well into the 2020 season. Burrow needs to be overly cautious in his sophomore year as he recovers from a cruciate ligament tear.
And Chase … well, there are no excuses here. Chase failed this preseason (literally got a D + grade from an NFL analyst) and has to take a big step forward in 2021.
While Cincinnati’s design record doesn’t exactly favor these first rounds, we still hope that any budding franchise star can change the history of Bengals.
Williams has played in almost every game since he started as a freshman, so there’s no reason to assume he’s a particularly injury-prone player. Burrow’s college record speaks for itself, and if his O-Line can actually protect him this year, he should impress early on.
Chase just needs to prove he was a better pick than Penei Sewell, and his former LSU association with Burrow should bolster his performances this season as well.
As for the deal with Billy Price, the Bengals arguably got the better half of it.
By letting go of Price, the team cemented their trust in the Trey Hopkins launch center and, in 2021, the sixth round Trey Hill, which still needs time to develop.
The player Cincinnati got in return, BJ Hill, also adds tremendous snap-to-snap productivity to the Bengals’ line of defense, despite being picked two rounds after Price.
Cincinnati’s tragic story of dumping its first rounds will hopefully end with the 2019 Draft Class.
We could blame Billy Price’s disappointment and those other long-gone first-round draft picks … for now.
In 2021, the Bengals’ coaching staff (and by default the drafting committee) will have as much to prove as any choice – high or low – on the roster.