Most people say you have to wait three years before properly judging a draft class. This is a good time frame, but four years is even better.
All rookies under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) sign four-year contracts, with the first round picks getting a team option for a fifth year.
With the fourth overall selection in 2011, how did the Cincinnati Bengals do?
Round 1 (Pick #4): WR A.J. Green, Georgia
Round 2 (Pick #35): QB Andy Dalton, TCU
Round 3 (Pick #66): OLB Dontay Moch, Nevada
Round 4 (Pick #101): G Clint Boling, Georgia
Round 5 (Pick #134): S Robert Sands, West Virginia
Round 6 (Pick #167): WR Ryan Whalen, Stanford
Round 7 (Pick #207): CB Korey Lindsey, Southern Illionis
Round 7 (Pick #246): RB Jay Finley, Baylor
Draft Grade in 2011:
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.): A-
Yahoo! (Jason Cole): A
First Round Pick: A.J. Green
The first round of the 2011 draft was loaded with talented players, unless you wanted a quarterback. Cincinnati made the smart move to wait until the second round to take their much-needed quarterback, allowing them to add Green. The 6-foot-4 Green has lived up to expectations, with over 1,000 yards in all four of his pro seasons. He is averaging about 82 catches, 1,218 yards and 9 touchdowns per season, numbers that make him one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Best Pick (Not First Round): Cling Boling
Cincinnati double dipped on University of Georgia players and was successful with both picks. After starting three games as a rookie at right guard, Boling became a full-time starter in his second season at left guard and has been an above-average player ever since. His versatility has helped the Bengals through offensive line injuries, as he has played some right tackle. Any time you can find an above average starter, it is a good draft pick––especially in the fourth round.
Worst Pick: Dontay Moch
When you select a linebacker in the third round, you expect a whole lot more than two seasons and zero tackles. Per Pro Football Focus, Moch played only five defensive snaps in his two years with the Bengals. After 2012, Cincinnati cut their losses and waived him. Since then, he has played for Arizona and Tennessee and has recorded seven tackles. The Titans recently waived him.
A highly regarded draft class in 2011, the Bengals haul has lived up to the hype over the past four seasons. Green has made the Pro Bowl every year in the league. For better or worse, Dalton has become the Bengals’ franchise quarterback. After the top two picks, only Boling has really contributed to the team, but three quality players on offense is something to be very happy with from a draft.