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2022 Draft Picks Review through Week 7


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Pretty comprehensive and fair review from Dehner. Here you go:

(there's a lot to chew on here)






The Bengals’ 2022 rookie class had only six drafted players and a first-round pick who has hardly seen the field, but the group has proved impactful through the first seven games of the season.

Cincinnati went one-for-one in drafting an offensive starter and even mined a starting long snapper out of the undrafted free agents. In between are several intriguing developmental arcs, including one that took a significant, surprising turn this past weekend against Atlanta.

Here’s a deeper look at the Bengals’ rookies through the eyes of the staff and players themselves, with a realistic evaluation of what the rest of the season might look like for them.


First round: Dax Hill, DB

Snap percentage: 5.6 percent; 25 on defense, 85 on special teams

Relevant stats: The snap count is the relevant stat. Despite an impressive camp and preseason and the threat of extra sub packages with three-safety looks, Dax Hill has been a ghost in the defensive game plan. He’s rarely seeing the field beyond a dime sub-package group.

Best moment: Running over from the far hash to the sideline to break up a pass on the final heave from Andy Dalton in New Orleans.

Worst moment: When defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo went on a rant after the Dallas game about his philosophy on rotating defensive backs and Hill’s potential playing time.

They said it: One of the most interesting developments happening now with this rookie class is the potential of working Hill into the role currently filled by Tre Flowers, primarily covering tight ends. The Bengals have been giving Hill time working with it behind the scenes, but the versatility required makes it a complicated ask.

“We do so many things on third down, without giving stuff away, where Tre Flowers’ role, to a quarterback, could be a man call, could be a zone call. He could be playing an underneath short zone, he could be playing a deep zone, he could be playing an outside corner, he could be playing a linebacker spot,” Anarumo said. “There’s a lot going into that. We’ve built on that from last year, and part of this is fooling the quarterback, or trying to at least. That little package we have with him is 400-level, for sure. So it takes time.”

Future role: Hill has made the most of his limited opportunity. He had a third-down stop early in Baltimore and the play late against New Orleans. Anarumo acknowledges those plays are beginning to build trust and confidence he wants to see before giving more work to Hill. He’s just not going to get reps over Jessie Bates or Vonn Bell. Unless an injury occurs, he’ll need to eventually take over the Flowers role, which would net him another dozen or so snaps a game, if it was a game plan that calls for it. He’ll be the starting safety once Bates leaves next year.

Grade: A* (sample too small to qualify for final grade)


Second round: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB

Snap percentage: 6.2 percent; 28 on defense, four on special teams

Best moment: Getting emotional after his first NFL game, a moment captured by Fox19 on the field.

Worst moment: Going down in training camp with a core muscle injury, wiping out any potential for competition at corner before it even started and stealing valuable preseason playing time.

Relevant stats: One-for-one. In one game active, Cam Taylor-Britt received defensive snaps — 28 of them, to be exact — this past weekend against Atlanta. For Anarumo, who holds the philosophy stated above about rotating defensive backs, to give run to Taylor-Britt shows what the Bengals think of him. What appeared to be a redshirt year is now headed for Taylor-Britt being considered the starter coming out of the bye if he plays well the next two weeks.

They said it: Taylor-Britt didn’t see a target against Atlanta, and not many of his snaps were part of the action. It didn’t offer much to evaluate but, in the eyes of the coaching staff, was a critical first step.

“Just good to get his feet wet,” coach Zac Taylor said. “It’s his first game he played in the NFL. He’s got the right mentality for it. I think he’s prepared the right way. You don’t get a ton of snaps; it’s hard to work multiple guys at positions over the course of the week — that’s hard. You just get limited normal-down reps, third-down reps and red zone reps. So, I thought they did a good job with the plan over the course of the week and got a chance to throw him in there, and I thought he performed well.”

Anarumo had this to say about Taylor-Britt’s situation changing his rotating DBs philosophy:

“In a perfect world, you don’t want to be able to do that. But this is not a perfect world, and we’re in a situation where you’ve got a young guy who had no preseason. You’ve got to get him snaps at some point, other than scout team reps, so yesterday was a perfect opportunity.”

Future role: Taylor-Britt and Eli Apple are expected to rotate with each other for the next two weeks. Once the bye hits, everyone will take time to re-evaluate. We could see Taylor-Britt take over the role, or maybe the rotation continues. Either way, momentum for Taylor-Britt to play a major role with the 2022 Bengals has been set in motion.

Grade: N/A


Third round: Zach Carter, DT

Snap percentage: 35.6 percent; 160 on defense, 33 on special teams

Relevant stats: Zach Carter’s Pro Football Focus grade of 29.4 is the worst on the team. His run defense and tackling have been particularly poor by its estimation. His missed tackle percentage (18.8) is the third worst on the team. He has managed only one pressure in 75 pass-rush snaps; however, he has made splash plays, racking up eight stops in his rotational role.

Best moment: Carter’s most productive game came Sunday against Atlanta. His biggest play was the first one after halftime. The Bengals desperately needed a three-and-out against a team that rarely goes three-and-out after Atlanta gained momentum entering halftime. Carter blew up center Drew Dalman, driving him into the backfield and leaving Tyler Allgeier with nowhere to go, and Carter tackled him for just a 1-yard gain. It forced Atlanta to throw twice behind the sticks, and both were unsuccessful. The Falcons punted, and it set the tone for the second-half shutout.

Worst moment: There hasn’t been a specific poor moment, but the consistent lack of a pass rush is the most disappointing aspect of Carter’s early returns. To generate only a single pressure across 75 pass-rush reps, specifically after he showed well in preseason and even had a strip-sack against the Rams in the preseason finale, is not what the Bengals hoped they would see.

They said it: Because of the level of competition Carter faced in college at Florida, he feels like the transition to the NFL has not been the major jump that’s often expected. “I’ve been playing against great offensive lines, great backs my whole career,” he said. “It makes the transition kind of easier.”

Meanwhile, Taylor was notably impressed with Jay Tufele and Carter stepping in against the potent Falcons run game and strong offensive line.

“Zach Carter stepped up as well,” Taylor said. “So, both of those guys are maximizing their opportunities. That’s what it’s about when you’re a backup or depth player. You just always have to stay ready because you never know when your opportunity will be called. Those are two guys that have had it thrown at them more than they anticipated early in the year. They’re stepping up to the plate.”

Future role: Carter will continue to see increased playing time along with Tufele until D.J. Reader and/or Josh Tupou return. He’s not digging into the playing time of B.J. Hill, whose been up over 85 percent for most of the season at three-technique but still has a role in the rotation. The Bengals hope what Carter showed against Atlanta can be a jumping-off point for his rookie season starting to show more activity than the early portion.

Grade: C


Fourth round: Cordell Volson, OG

Snap percentage: 100 percent; 420 snaps on offense, 30 on special teams

Relevant stats: Extracting the disastrous Week 1 against Pittsburgh, PFF tagged Cordell Volson with eight pressures and one sack allowed through the past six games. There are 18 rookie offensive linemen with at least 250 snaps in that span. Volson trails only Tyler Linderbaum of the Ravens in least pressure allowed per pass protection snap.

Best moment: It’s hard to argue with the day Volson was announced as the starter over Jackson Carman. Volson showed steady improvement as part of the general stabilization of the line, but there was a point when you wondered whether he would ever get the chance. His overwhelming victory in the guard competition — to the point he didn’t even play the final preseason game — was one of the biggest storylines of camp. The fact his presence as a starter hasn’t been much of a storyline since Week 2 says it all.

Worst moment: The first play of the season. Volson, unfortunately, was left one-on-one with All-Pro Cam Heyward and got wrecked for a sack. Joe Burrow threw a pick six the next play. On a bad day, it took just one snap for all concerning eyes to be on the rookie guard, even if it wasn’t his fault he was left in that bad matchup.

They said it: Offensive line coach Frank Pollack spoke glowingly about the progress seen from Volson from the first game until now.

“Every week there is something new he, maybe, hasn’t seen that is new for him,” Pollack said. “But he’s tough. He’s not wavering at all. He’s got the right mindset. He’s never down. He’s never up. He’s even-keel every day. He’s the same guy on every day and every play. He doesn’t waver when he does have a bad rep. He learns from it, he assesses and moves on and gets better from it. He’s improved every week. I’m excited for how he’s trending.”

One of the major areas of improvement has been Volson’s awareness of how to play with those around him. Burrow called Volson Ted Karras’ “minion” this week for how he follows the

veteran around, but it has shown. Volson said Karras’ knowledge and leadership have been instrumental in helping him find comfort and cohesion. It’s been notable for Pollack.

“His set relationships with the center and tackle — he’s not taking himself out of position, out of the protection,” Pollack said. “A lot of guys early in pass pro think it’s just them. No, it’s a system. You are with four other guys. You got to fit with those four other guys. It’s not you on an island. It’s us. If you get out of that, we are screwed.”

For Pollack, the way Volson took the job, ran with it and stayed dedicated through seven weeks goes far beyond his opinion.

“I think his teammates see it and feel the same way,” Pollack said, “which, I would argue, is more important.”

Future role: Nobody is crowning Volson as a future Pro Bowler, but the Bengals just might have found the stability they’ve sought for years at guard. If the early trend continues, Volson could project as the starting left guard for the next four years and the first offensive line draft pick Cincinnati has hit on relative to draft spot since Kevin Zeitler in 2012.

Grade: B

Fifth round: Tycen Anderson, S

Snap percentage: Zero percent; spent the season on injured reserve

Relevant stats: None

Best moment: None

Worst moment: Tycen Anderson was placed on IR with a hamstring injury sustained during the preseason finale.

They said it: Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons discussed the steeper climb in getting rookies up to speed on special teams in recent years because of how different college special teams plays look from the NFL. Punts are a different style; kickoffs are being fair caught. It makes for a blank slate of real knowledge for most. Anderson acquitted himself generally well in that regard during the preseason, but without an ability to gauge progress on the field, it’s a challenge to assess what he could offer on special teams if/when he returns.

“He’s one that has a little bit more gray (area),” Simmons said. “I can see the mental parts of it, and he made great progression in the mental parts. But it’s the physical parts where you really want to see improvements. That’s tough for him to do right now.”

Future role: Anderson’s selection was almost always going to be about 2023 and beyond. There’s a surplus of safeties on the roster right now — to the point that his injury will allow him to hang out on IR until his services are needed and his hamstring is 100 percent healed. It probably will take attrition at defensive back for Anderson to see the 53-man roster anytime soon, but his development will be a central focus next offseason as the team plots answers beyond Bates and tries to re-sign Bell.

Grade: N/A

Seventh round: Jeff Gunter, DL

Snap percentage: 1.6 percent; seven snaps on defense, 54 on special teams

Relevant stats: Leads the team with an 85.3 PFF grade on special teams.

Best moment: Gunter blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt in the first half against the Dolphins, preserving a 7-6 lead at the time.

Worst moment: Gunter dislocated his knee in pregame warmups in New Orleans.

They said it: Gunter made the biggest special teams play by any rookie so far this season when he blocked that field goal. Simmons saw Gunter’s growth from a player without much background in that aspect of the game.

“Jeff was doing a good job before he got hurt,” Simmons said. “He was learning how to play. So much of NFL football anymore is situational. It’s not just about lining up and playing; it’s so much situational stuff.”

Future role: The fact the Bengals didn’t place Gunter on injured reserve shows they see him as capable of returning before too long. He’ll still primarily be relegated to special teams duty when he does. He showed well in the preseason as a pass rusher, but for the time being, more plays like his blocked field goal will be the key to sticking on the roster.

Grade: B

Undrafted: Cal Adomitis, LS

Snap percentage: 100 percent of long snaps since activation

Relevant stats: No unplayable snaps

They said it: Overall, Simmons has been happy with how Cal Adomitis took over at long snapper once Clark Harris went out for the season with a biceps injury. The big difference would be Adomitis doing as much as he can to catch up on the institutional knowledge lost with Harris.

“He knows what butters his bread and has studied his tail off as well as anybody I have been around,” Simmons said. “He wants to prove himself. Not just to the other guys in the room, but us as coaches and to the rest of the league that he belongs.”

Simmons pointed out that Adomitis hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been good enough to keep Evan McPherson rolling.

“Clark was a mixed bag at first, too,” he said. “Teams are rushing us a lot because we have a rookie snapper. We expected it, and he’s handled it just fine.”

Future role: If Adomitis gets through this season without issue, he’ll likely hold the job for the long term. Harris doesn’t want to go out with an injury, but a chance for the Bengals to get younger at the position and not feel nervous in critical snap situations would make sense. It’s why he was around in preseason competition in the first place.

Grade: B



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The statement comparing Volson to Linderbaum leaves me wondering why the grade on Volson was only a B

Id say at this point he is undeniably an absolute hit, a solid A, particularly given how late he was picked

Im not claiming he's got a bid for the Pro Bowl or whatever they will be calling it from now on, but hes waaaaaay ahead of expectations

I hated this draft pick, but I can say as I watch the crow on the grill sizzling nicely, I was simply fucking wrong.  Massively and utterly wrong.

Now please pass the bbq sauce.  The family sized bottle please.

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Giving UDFA to starter Adomitis anything but an A is just churlish. You never need a LS until you do, it was damn smart of the staff to bring him in and it’s paid off in spades. Dehner can eat a bag of salted dicks there.

Volson, for all his struggles, has been a winner. He has a future in this league imo. If he’s not a golden god yet, who is, and as this article’s comps show, he’s way better than anyone had right to expect. An A from me.

Carter is better than a C. It’s a weird write up that says he’s had no real bad plays but…C? Whatever. I go B at least.

The rest is all incomplete. Hill was a pick for the future (Bates) and Britt has been hurt. This is all TBD.

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Fascinating to see the competition play out between Apple and CTB.  Eli Apple came in here when we needed him and played well above expectations.  Having said that, he’s inconsistent.  Most worryingly, he doesn’t seem to have the maturity to handle a demotion to depth player.  We’ll see.

Great line from Dehner there when he describes Gunter’s worst moment as dislocating his knee during warmups.  I guess that would be bad.  Also funny how he can’t pinpoint a worst moment for Zach Carter.  Dude just can’t beat pass blocking yet, like at all.

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