Report Card Roundup: Bengals receive high grades for 2020 NFL Draft class

The Bengals are being praised for the 2020 NFL Draft class, receive high grades for all seven picks
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The Bengals selected seven players in the 2020 NFL Draft, including quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins. 

Linebacker was also a point of emphasis for Cincinnati. They invested three of their seven picks into the position, in an attempt to become faster and more athletic on defense. 

They've been praised for their draft haul from virtually every outlet across the country. Here's a compilation of what they're saying about the Bengals:

Sports Illustrated — Draft Grade: A-

Analysis: "By all appearances, Cincinnati’s commitment to Joe Burrow has been strong and steady from the start. The only reasonable knock on LSU’s 2019 breakout star is his lack of top-level arm strength, but that’s not to say Burrow can’t still make every throw. What sets him apart is how he gets to those throws. He sees and exploits the entire width of the field; he moves calmly, courageously and craftily within the pocket, and has good enough wheels to make plays outside of it. There’s no task in Zac Taylor’s zone-based, play-action-oriented offense that Burrow can’t perform."

"Getting Burrow to quickly maximize the potential of those tasks will require better play at offensive line and wide receiver, areas the Bengals could address later in this draft but will also improve by default with wide receiver A.J. Green and 2019 first-round left tackle Jonah Williams returning to health. This can be a whole different Bengals offense in 2020, especially if second-round pick, Tee Higgins, builds on the drastic growth he showed from 2018 to ’19 at Clemson and carves out a meaningful role as a rookie in 2020. His college improvements were especially poignant inside—a significant note given that in Taylor’s play-action heavy offense the receivers often align in tight splits, working the middle of the field."

"As for that defense, which was improved with mid-round picks… there were some who thought Logan Wilson was almost on LSU first-round linebacker Patrick Queen’s level in terms of pass-coverage potential. If the Wyoming product pans out, he gives the Bengals the top-flight coverage prowess that they were hoping to get from third-rounder Germaine Pratt last year. Pratt played a much more prominent role in the second half of last season and will have every opportunity to take a big step forward in 2020. If Wilson can, too, the Bengals will be very comfortable playing nickel defense. And to pad their options here, the Bengals spent the first pick in Round 4 on linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither—another linebacker whose physical traits offer value on passing downs."

Mel Kiper, ESPN.com — Draft Grade B+

Analysis: "Joe Burrow is the quarterback to help the Bengals move forward. Every team I talked to loved him, and his rise from potential fifth- or sixth-rounder is amazing. He improved so much throughout 2019 that it was clear by the end of the season that he was going to be the top pick. He has the “it” factor, and I can’t wait to see what he does in 2020. I also like that coach Zac Taylor & Co. were able to get Burrow some help at the top of Round 2. Wide receiver Tee Higgins (33) caught touchdown passes the past two seasons from the potential 2021 top pick, and now he’ll catch passes from the 2020 No. 1."

"Linebackers Logan Wilson (65) and Akeem Davis-Gaither (107) improve one of the league’s worst units from a year ago, and Wilson in particular could be a steal. Khalid Kareem (147) had 26 tackles for loss over the past two seasons."

"Cincinnati probably isn’t going to win many games in 2020, but it’s going to be fun to watch. This draft and offseason has set the stage for rise, and I’m excited to see where it goes next."

NFL.com — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: "The Bengals made very good picks, starting with Burrow, the new face of the franchise, before adding a talented receiver in Higgins and active linebacker in Wilson."

"They started the festivities on Saturday by picking another good linebacker in Davis-Gaither, who will track and attack the ball on defense and special teams. Kareem was an excellent edge rusher selection in Round 5, and Adeniji has a chance to start at guard or tackle very soon. Bailey would have been a top-100 pick if not for his history of knee injuries."

Pro Football Focus — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: Joe Burrow was an easy pick for the Bengals with the first overall selection. He was the best prospect in the class, coming in at first on the PFF Big Board, and he is coming off the best season at quarterback that we’ve seen since we started grading college games in 2014.

There were all kinds of options available to Cincinnati at the top of the second round, and Tee Higgins at that selection makes a lot of sense, both as A.J. Green insurance and a piece that can add to the offense alongside him and Tyler Boyd.

"The two off-ball linebackers Cincinnati targeted on Day 3 are good athletes with injury concerns, but both could develop into formidable contributors for the team."

Bleacher Report — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: "LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has the potential to become Cincinnati's franchise centerpiece for years to come. It may take some time for Cincinnati to see results on the field as these young players gain experience, but it set itself up nicely to become a contender in the AFC."

The Draft Wire — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: "The Bengals needed a franchise quarterback, and they got one of the best prospects we’ve seen in quite a while. Joe Burrow was a no-brainer at No. 1 overall, and he could quickly transform this franchise into a contender."

"It helps that the Bengals also knocked the rest of their draft out of the park, as well. Clemson’s Tee Higgins gives Burrow another big, athletic target who will dominate in the red zone, and Logan Wilson gives them the three-down linebacker they desperately need."

"Day 3 should be about maximizing value and building depth, and that’s exactly what the Bengals did at every pick to close out their class. The triple-dipped at linebacker by adding Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither and Purdue’s Markus Bailey, and were rewarded for their patience at offensive line by landing a versatile blocker in Kansas’ Hakeem Adeniji. Notre Dame pass rusher Khalid Kareem in the fifth round was icing on the cake."

The Washington Post — Draft Grade: B+

Analysis: "The Bengals should have improved their roster considerably, given the picks they had, and that’s what they did. They were unwavering in making QB Joe Burrow the top choice, and they used the first selection of the second round to give Burrow some help with WR Tee Higgins."

The Sporting News — Draft Grade: A+

Analysis: "The Bengals lucked out in being in position to get Burrow and stayed at the top with a few more greatest hits throughout the draft. Higgins was an awesome get in Round 2 to pair with A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Wilson and Davis-Gaither turn their linebacker weakness into a rangy, playmaking strength. Khareem and Adeniji were recognition of upgrading edge depth on both sides of the ball. Put Zac Taylor and Duke Tobin on the honor roll, too."

The New York Post — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: "Each of those players was the first pick in a round. It’s difficult to screw up a draft that way. Native son Burrow brings badly needed franchise-changing swagger."

SB Nation Draft Grade: A-

Analysis: "As expected for months, the Bengals got things started with quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU. After several years of middling play by Andy Dalton, the Bengals now have a quarterback to build their franchise around. Burrow should quickly assert himself as the team’s leader thanks to his toughness and moxie. On the field, Burrow excels at exploiting the weaknesses in a defense and maneuvering around the pocket."

"In the second round, the Bengals got Burrow a weapon in Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins. He gives the Bengals a wide receiver who can high-point the ball and get physical with defensive backs. He’s not a speed receiver, but he fits nicely with the type of throws Burrow can make."

"Cincinnati’s linebacker play has been suspect for years, so it makes sense that the team would take two — Logan Wilson of Wyoming and Akeem Davis-Gaither of Appalachian State — with back-to-back picks. Davis-Gaither is the model of a current linebacker who has speed and athleticism to burn. Wilson is a good three-down inside linebacker who should quickly assume a starting job."

Yahoo Sports — Draft Grade: A

Analysis: "Burrow is a good prospect if you haven’t heard, and he’s walking into an underrated supporting cast littered with skill-position talent and an offensive-minded head coach. He’s the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite… Higgins’ athletic profile is concerning (31-inch vert, 4.54 speed), but he was highly productive (13 TDs) and efficient (13.4 YPT) at Clemson and is only 21 years old, the latter are more predictive of NFL success for wide receivers. His value as a rookie will depend on A.J. Green’s status and John Ross’ hamstring, but he may be going overlooked in dynasty leagues. I think he can be a nice second option in the NFL… Wilson was insanely productive (94+ tackles four times) at Wyoming, was PFF’s No. 2 linebacker against the run, and is a 64th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athlete. He should have been in my top-100 rankings to be honest. He’ll be a starter for most of his rookie contract… Davis-Gaither can be an asset as a blitzing linebacker and willing tackler against the run, as evidenced by his 101 tackles last season. He can play meaningful snaps for a rebuilding linebacker group."