CINCINNATI — The Bengals added six players to their roster in the 2022 NFL Draft, including Michigan safety Dax Hill.
Here are four thoughts on their draft haul:
Best Player Available
The Bengals deserve credit for not reaching for a cornerback in round one. It would've been easy to take Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. or Washington's Kyler Gordon. Instead, they went with Dax Hill, who was far and away the top player on their draft board.
No one would've raised an eyebrow if Hill went off the board in the top 20. Instead, he fell all the way to the Bengals at 31. Giving Lou Anarumo a SwissArmy knife-like weapon in the secondary is a big deal, especially since the Bengals could face star quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson in the postseason.
Plugged the Major Holes
Some wonder why they didn't take Oklahoma's Perrion Winfrey with the 95th overall pick, but clearly they had Zachery Carter higher on their board.
Carter tested like an elite athlete and should be able to instantly play 3-technique in the NFL.
He also produced at a high level, finishing with 13 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.
Much like Hill, Carter is versatile, which was a theme throughout the draft.
Cincinnati landed another freak-ish athlete in round seven. Jeffrey Gunter should be able to compete with a roster spot. He tested in the 97th percentile among defensive ends. He also had 22.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks over the past two seasons.
Competition at Left Guard
The Bengals drafted Cordell Volson in the fourth round, but it's hard to expect him to be the starting left guard.
That means D'Ante Smith, Jackson Carman, Hakeem Adeniji and Trey Hill will all be in the mix to start.
"We feel good about those guys and what they’ve done so far, and then the improvements that they have to make. There’s certainly competition," offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. "That guy that walks out there opening weekend will have earned that job, and he will have earned it because he played well and he did all the things that we’re looking for those guys to do at that spot. I think it’s exciting. I think it’s going to be a fun competition to watch."
The Bengals could always sign a veteran like Quinton Spain, but it sounds like they're confident in the guys they have on the roster.
The Bengals added three defensive backs that run a sub-4.40 40-yard dash. Cam Taylor-Britt, Tycen Anderson and Hill can absolutely fly.
That speed should help them compete against all of the dynamic athletes in the AFC.
"It was a component that came with these players. There's always a fine line of what's fast enough, as long as the play speed shows to a degree," defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. "But these guys had kind of all of those things—height, weight, speed and the length part—which is important to me back there [in the secondary]."
Cincinnati added three key pieces to their secondary, which should give Anarumo a chance to take this defense to another level.
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