Cincinnati Bengals' 2017 draft class: Kiper's grades, McShay's best pick, more
NFL Draft Insiders
Posted: 2017-05-01

The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it's time to review how your favorite team fared. Where did it reach? Did it get a potential steal in Round 5? Is there a bust waiting to happen?

ESPN Insider's draft experts break down each draft class, starting with Mel Kiper Jr.'s grade, Todd McShay's favorite pick, and Scouts Inc.'s analysis on how each player fits into his new team.

Cincinnati Bengals

Mel Kiper's Draft Grade: B-

Kiper: Risk seemed to define the early portion of this class. It's not at all a surprise that the Bengals -- who have drafted exceptionally well in recent years -- would want to grab another wide receiver for Andy Dalton. After losing both Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency last year, they drafted Tyler Boyd in Round 2, but the distance between A.J. Green and the rest of the receivers here is still notable. I was just a bit surprised they went with John Ross at No. 9 overall. Maybe they wanted Corey Davis (No. 5 overall) or Mike Williams (No. 7) and just decided they better get Ross. Still, Ross has a smaller frame, is coming off shoulder surgery and has missed a chunk of time with an ACL tear. That's a lot of risk for a top-10 pick.

Then there is Joe Mixon. The guy is a major talent, but again, to take him in Round 2 is to say you're quite comfortable with his decision-making -- on and off the field -- going forward. Two picks, two talented players, but plenty of risk.

After that, the Bengals added some interesting potential. Jordan Willis had 26.0 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss, and the workout numbers to match those totals, so to get him at No. 73 overall looks like a great value. Carl Lawson is also a really talented player but brings an injury history of his own. The Ryan Glasgow selection goes along pretty well with my ranks; my No. 150 overall player taken at No. 138. He has a chance to be a useful contributor along the D-line. Another interesting selection was Jordan Hall, as the Bengals have a need at inside linebacker. Josh Malone offers length and depth at wide receiver.

Ultimately, the talent here could win out over the risk, but this draft hinges on whether Ross stays healthy and Mixon lives up to his promise to stay out of the kind of situations that made him such a controversial selection.

2/48 Joe Mixon RB OKLAHOMA
3/73 Jordan Willis DE KANSAS STATE
4/116 Carl Lawson DE AUBURN
4/128 Josh Malone WR TENNESSEE
4/138 Ryan Glasgow DT MICHIGAN
5/153 Jake Elliott K MEMPHIS
5/176 J.J. Dielman C UTAH
6/193 Jordan Evans ILB OKLAHOMA
6/207 Brandon Wilson CB HOUSTON
7/251 Mason Schreck TE BUFFALO

Todd McShay's favorite pick

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (No. 116 pick)

The Bengals needed to find an edge rusher to pair with Carlos Dunlap. I don't know if Lawson is going to be a full-time player for Cincy, but when he plays, he's going to give maximum effort and make some splash behind-the-line-of-scrimmage plays. Lawson comes with durability concerns (multiple knee surgeries, and a shoulder issue), but I was blown away with his passion for the game when we met earlier this year. Lawson plays with an excellent motor, is stout against the run, and has a strong combination of quickness and power as a pass-rusher. If he can stay healthy, the Bengals got a great value here.

Scouts Inc. on 2017 class

1 (24) John Ross, WR, Washington | Highlights

What he brings: An explosive playmaker who can line up in the slot and outside the hashes. He possesses rare speed (4.22 40-yard dash at the combine) but also runs quality routes and is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands both after the catch and as a returner on special teams. Lack of size and durability are concerns. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: After adding WR Tyler Boyd in the second round last year, the Bengals continue to make sure they surround QB Andy Dalton with weapons. Ross' ability to stretch the field vertically (4.22-second 40 at combine) also will go a long way in taking attention away from A.J. Green and provide him with more one-on-one situations. -- Kevin Weidl

2 (16) Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma | Highlights

What he brings: Mixon has quick feet and good top-end speed for his size, plus he's an outstanding receiver with experience working out of the slot. He comes with substantial off-the-field baggage, though, and many organizations might not want to deal with the fallout of drafting him. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: The Bengals needed to shore up the RB position, as Jeremy Hill is entering a contract year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 11. Mixon is one of the most talented runners in the class and a dynamic playmaker. -- Kevin Weidl

3 (9) Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State | Highlights

What he brings: Willis has athleticism for his size and brings excellent production over the past two seasons (33 TFLs, 21 sacks). While his snap anticipation is a bit inconsistent, he has very good first-step quickness with quality flexibility and speed-to-power capabilities to develop into an effective edge rusher. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: The Bengals needed to add another young pass-rusher opposite of Carlos Dunlap, and Willis is just that. He has a chance to eventually replace -- and be an upgrade on -- Michael Johnson. -- Kevin Weidl

4 (9) Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn | Highlights

What he brings: Lawson's injury history -- torn ACL in 2014 and hip injury in 2015 -- is a concern. Plus, he's got short arms. On the other hand, he's a tone-setter against the run and a relentless pass-rusher who has violent hands and above-average closing speed. -- Steve Muench

4 (22) Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee | Highlights

What he brings: A bigger receiver with exceptional speed to stretch he field vertically, Malone needs to improve as a route runner and continue to get stronger on contested throws. But there's a lot to like about his big-play potential and upside. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: We didn't identify receiver as a pressing need coming into the draft and the Bengals already added Washington's John Ross in the first round, but A.J. Green is coming off hamstring injury. Malone is an excellent value here and he gives Cincinnati another player that can take the top off the coverage. -- Steve Muench

4 (32) Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan | Highlights

What he brings: A powerful grinder versus the run, Glasgow will never be an elite pass-rusher, but he's strong, crafty and relentless enough to contribute. -- Kevin Weidl

5 (9) Jake Elliott, K, Memphis

What he brings: Elliott finished his career as Memphis' career leader in scoring (445 points) and field goals (81). He has a powerful leg despite his small frame, but he needs to be a little more consistent. -- Steve Muench

5 (33) J.J. Dielman, C, Utah

What he brings: Dielman has good size and adequate inline power, but he needs to learn to play with more patience and balance, particularly in pass protection. He has some durability issues and played in only five games last season. Dielman has the potential to become a versatile reserve. -- Kevin Weidl

6 (9) Jordan Evans, ILB, Oklahoma

What he brings: Evans is an athletic space linebacker who shows quality range and has very good awareness and ball production in coverage for the position. He has a chance to contribute as a sub-package nickel linebacker and on special teams. -- Kevin Weidl

6 (23) Brandon Wilson, CB, Houston

What he brings: Wilson is a developmental prospect who lined up at corner in addition to playing some running back and contributing on special teams. He scored in six different ways when he was at Houston. He has average size and his pro day short shuttle (4.42) is a red flag for a corner, but he has excellent top-end speed. -- Steve Muench

7 (33) Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo

What he brings: Schreck is a small school developmental prospect who has excellent football character, plus he has enough size, length and top-end speed to develop into an effective situational receiving tight end. -- Steve Muench

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