Following a strong first two days of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals turned in another good day on day three in Chicago, coming up with some mid-round steals to go with some late developmental projects, rounding out a good draft for the reigning AFC North champions.
After getting Houston cornerback William Jackson III in round one, Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd in round two and Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil in round three, the Bengals started things off in style on day three with Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings — who, for some unknown reason(s) fell to the fourth round where Cincinnati snatched him up at No. 122 overall, one pick ahead of the Steelers.
Billings was a guy that I felt was a first-round lock due to his size, athleticism and strength, but the 21-year-old defensive stalwart took a draft day tumble, falling right into the lap of the Bengals.
With Billings on board, the Bengals again received another gift pick with the No. 161 overall pick, selecting Arizona State offensive lineman Christian Westerman, whom many felt was a day two selection. Cincinnati got him in the fifth round.
Westerman is a former boxer with powerful hands and a great base. He’ll likely sit in 2016, but he’s certainly a long-term upgrade in the middle of the Bengals’ offensive line.
Thanks to two outstanding picks to start day three, the Bengals could afford to take projects with their final selections, picking up Ole Miss wide receiver Cody Core at No. 199 overall and Illinois safety Clayton Fejedelem with the No. 245 overall pick.
Core was the receiver opposite Minnesota’s Laquan Treadwell throughout his college career. While at Ole Miss, Core had consistency issues, never really reaching his true potential. He could develop into a solid No. 4 option, but Cincinnati shouldn’t expect much more.
As for Fejedelem, the Bengals are getting a physical safety that is a tackling machine. Although his coverage skills are average, Fejedelem will have to make his mark on special teams to make the Bengals’ roster.
Overall, the Bengals once again sat tight with each pick and came away with some really good selections. They’re a team that can afford to draft for the future, and they did just that.
Arguably the deepest roster in the NFL just got that much better by being patient over the weekend.