Zac Taylor was all smiles on Friday night as he held his virtual news conference with the media.
"Best case scenario," Taylor declared. "Truthfully. I think this was the best-case scenario. As we came into today, if you said that we were going to go get a receiver and a linebacker that we had at the top of our board, we were going to get both of them, I would have thought that you were crazy. I would have thought you probably had to trade back and then trade up. For the way that it happened for us today, just standing firm at 33 and 65, is surprising that it worked out for us.
"We’re just thrilled to add Joe (Burrow), Tee, and Logan. To us, this is as good as it could have gone up to this point.”
The Bengals planned on drafting the best player available in each round. Those players also fill major needs on the roster.
At 6-4, 215 pounds, Higgins is a big, physical wide receiver with great hands. He averaged 19.8 yards per reception last season. He finished with 27 touchdowns in 37 games.
“Tee Higgins is as complete a receiver as we’ve had come out of Clemson," Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney said in a statement. "I think he’s in the same category as Mike Williams when it comes to being a complete receiver and you’re talking about size, speed, athleticism, catch radius, ball skills, ability to lean on people, body control and all of those type of things. He’s as complete a receiver as we’ve had come out of here. Tee is a great kid and a day one starter.”
Higgins, 21, may not start as a rookie, but the Bengals believe he'll get significant snaps this season. He's another dynamic playmaker that can make life easier on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
"It’s not a problem to have a lot of weapons," Taylor said. "They don’t all need to play 60 plays a game. Sometimes, it’s better when you reduce the amount of the snaps those guys take. Last year, our receivers had to take too many reps, and as the season wears on that affects them. So it’s good to keep adding weapons to the room so that when guys are out there running a route, they’re out there at 100 percent, and they feel fresh and can put their best on the field."
The wide receiver room does appear to be crowded with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Auden Tate in the mix. Both Green and Ross are in contract years and have dealt with injuries in the past, which made wide receiver a sneaky need for the Bengals.
“This is just adding another weapon to the group," Taylor said when asked about Green's future in Cincinnati. "We really like A.J. Green and look forward to coaching him this year. We want him here for a long time. This in no way, shape or form affects what we think about A.J.”
Wilson was high on the Bengals' board for most of the second-round. They were relieved to see him fall to the first pick in round three.
"You never know how these inside stack backers, these outside linebackers, how they're all going to shake out," Taylor said. "We certainly were holding our breath there those last couple picks. Ultimately, he was there at 65, so we grabbed him and we're very fired up about it."
Wilson, 23, was a first-team All-Mountain West selection last season. He moved from defensive back to linebacker when he got to Wyoming. His ball skills and instincts have helped him succeed in pass coverage. He finished with 10 interceptions and four career touchdowns.
The Bengals met with Wilson at the Senior Bowl. He played for the North team, but left a lasting impression on the coaching staff.
“He’s a guy we had highly rated," Taylor said. "He really impressed us. He played on the other team there, but he certainly stood out and impressed us, and we got to know him. We followed him over the next four months, and really just felt like he was a great fit for all the things we’ve been talking about in this building. He’s a three-down player, he’s physical, he can run, he’s got the right mentality. We’re just excited to add him to that side of the ball.”
The Bengals have needed help at linebacker for years. They finally got their guy.
"I'm going to play with high-effort. Bengals fans can count on that," Wilson said. "I'm going to give Cincinnati everything I have."