Looking back on Saturday morning, I wasn't enthusiastic about the likelihood of the Bengals draft Andre Smith over Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. Now that I've had a day or two to absorb the draft, I think I can say the Bengals actually did a pretty good job. There is a lot of potential in this draft class; but the problem is that all these players are going to take work to make them starters in the NFL. The got players who are very athletic and have great potential, and most of these players the Bengals got as "steals" by taking later than they were projected to be picked. The problem is that the reason these players slid in the draft was questions over character issues and work ethic.
Rey Maualuga (inside linebacker, USC) was projected to go as high as the middle of the first round, so he was something of a steal at the sixth pick of the second round. Defensive end Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech) was a great value at the top of round three, and adding tight end Chase Coffman (Missouri) later that round should give Carson Palmer another weapon on offensive. The Bengals finally addressed their gaping whole at center in the fourth round with Jonathan Luigs (Arkansas) and fifth-round pick Kevin Huber (Cincinnati) should be a big upgrade over Kyle Larson at punter (and I'm biased towards that pick since Huber is a Cincinnati native and UC alum).
The one pick that I really did not like came in the sixth round with Bernard Scott, a running back from Abilene Christian with quite a checkered past: offenses include being being suspended from football his senior year of high school, attending for different colleges, being arrested at least five times, and being kicked off the team at Central Arkansas for punching a coach. Basically, this guy sounds like Chris Henry II. Now considering that Scott is a sixth round pick, there's a chance he doesn't make the team anyway--and he's easy to cut if he does get into trouble--but since there were other running backs available who were just as good if not better, it was a needless risk. All the picks are listed here.
The way I see it, the coaches have placed a lot of pressure on themselves with this draft. Players like Smith, Maualuga, Johnson, and Brown all have huge potential, but it will take a lot of coaching and motivation to get them there. A number of the players already have legal incidents and other trouble in their pasts: Smith's Sugar Bowl suspension and pre-draft mishaps, Maualuga has been arrested, Johnson is reported to be unmotivated at times, and Brown seems to idolize Pacman Jones. These guys could turn into great NFL players, but it will be up to the coaches to motivate them enough to perform at their best and stay out of trouble.
Since draft grades are so popular, if I was going to grade the Bengals' draft, at this point in time I would give it a B. There are only a couple players that could come in almost right away and be good players. Most of these guys are going to be a project, and there is potential for huge embaressment if these guys screw up. This draft could end up scoring as high as an A or if could drop much lower. It all depends on what Marvin Lewis and company can do with these talented rookies.