Those grades handed out the day after an NFL Draft are like weddings and new cars.
Come see me in a couple of years.
But the Bengals came out of it from USA Today to the Drugstore List with solid B grades. The consensus has emerged that first-rounder A.J. Green is a superhero somewhere between Spiderman and Randy Moss and that second-rounder Andy Dalton is the consummate technician for new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's West Coast playbook.
"I really like the first two picks," says one NFL scout who doesn't work in the Bengals division. "Two good character football guys. Very high intelligent football guys. A pretty solid draft all the way through."
The succeeding picks got good play as well. NFL.com draft denizen Gil Brandt had them labeled either dead on or picked lower than they were ranked. He had Green (4) as a top 10 pick and while he had Dalton (35) pegged 31 to 40, he invited him to New York because he thought he'd go as high as 25. He had Nevada linebacker Dontay Moch (66) and Georgia lineman Clint Boling (101) rated between 71 and 80 and Robert Sands (134) at 91-100.
Brandt had five guys in his top 100, as did Jerry Jones of The Drugstore List. CBS Sports' Rob Rang says "pass rusher extraordinaire Dontay Moch in the third and steady offensive lineman Clint Boling in the fourth round filled out a solid class" for his B grade.
Green has got to be loving what the Bengals did after they grabbed him. When Gruden asked which quarterback he liked in the second round, he said Dalton, and during the third round Green was telling people he couldn't believe his teammate Boling was still on the board.
The Boling pick got a lot of rave reviews.
"Landing OG Clint Boling in the fourth round was a steal," says Pro Football Weekly, "and he could easily plug and play for OL coach Paul Alexander."
PFW handed out a B-plus in praising Bengals president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis for drafting more soundly than in recent years. A bit curious since 2010 brought AFC rookie leaders Jermaine Gresham, Carlos Dunlap and Jordan Shipley, and '09 yielded Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Kevin Huber, Morgan Trent and Bernard Scott.
"I think with Boling they've found a guy that is eventually going to be a successor to Bobbie Williams at right guard," says Jones, the St. Simon Island, Ga., resident. "I saw him play a lot of games and he can play anywhere on the line for you."
That's why Jones, if he graded, would have given the Bengals an A: "They not only filled their needs, they did it with good players."
Everyone loves what Moch can do physically and he certainly flashed his very solid character during Sunday's visit when he said very bluntly about his 4.2 speed and 42-inch vertical jump, "I like to amaze people."
"I'm not sure where they're going to play him," the NFL scout says. "He's pretty much Michael Johnson. I don't know how they get him on the field at the same time. He's a little tight and he looked lost in coverage at the all-star game I saw. But he's really fast, no question about it, and he plays hard."
Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer argues that Moch and Johnson are different guys. While Johnson is 6-7, 265 pounds and a defensive end, Moch is 6-1, 250 pounds and is the team's SAM backer of the future if he develops. As Pro Football Weekly says,"Dontay Moch has the upside to become very good if he can figure it out."
Moch is the consummate Zimmer pick. Remember what Zimmer said about taking defensive tackle Geno Atkins in the fourth round in 2010. He learned the "vision thing" from Bill Parcells in Dallas.
"Don't tell me what he can't do. Tell me what he can do. Have a vision for the guy," Zimmer says. "That's what we did with Geno. I didn't care what he did against the run. I was looking for a third-down guy on pass rush. That's how we saw him and where he would fit in."
And here's what Zimmer said about Moch on Friday night after the Bengals picked him: "This kid has fantastic intangibles. He'll be great in the locker room. He's going to work his rear end off, and he loves to work, study and practice — all the things which we think are important in being not only a good football team and teammate, but also helping us be a good organization. Saying that, it's not our vision for him to come in and be the starting middle linebacker. He's going to have to progress to that spot. But we do have a vision for how we're going to use him early on (pass rusher, special teams), and how we're going to get him to the starting linebacker spot."
Which gets back to what Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com says about not consummating a trade with Atlanta and taking Green at No. 4.
"That's your guy. If you like him, take him. The round or pick shouldn't matter," says Prisco of the B he gave the Bengals. "A.J. is the kind of guy that can be a great player and it gives Carson (Palmer) something to think about."
The Sands pick took some scrutiny. The NFL scout says, "That's the one pick I wondered about," and Prisco says he's an old-time safety that doesn't have great speed to be effective in coverage. PFW says Sands is "a hit-or-miss pick who could require an adjustment period, but he adds physicality to the Bengals defense."
But that's what the Bengals were looking for, a thumper and this guy does just that. Prisco says, "Think David Fulcher" as far as type of foes. If he's half that, the Bengals are in good shape. They'll take a younger Roy Williams, but Sands is another guy that figures to bide his time on special teams while backing up Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson. Some draftnicks had him as high as the third round, such as Jones, and Brandt had him in the fourth.
The NFL scout does like the sixth-round selection of Stanford wide receiver Ryan Whalen.
"He's a poor man's version of the kid they drafted last year from Texas," the scout says of Shipley. "He can be a good slot receiver because he's got good hands and he's smart."
Jones also has good reviews on the next pick, seventh-rounder Korey Lindsey, a cornerback out of small Southern Illinois.
"I talked to a guy involved in the FBS and he said Lindsey was the best cornerback in the country for that entire level," Jones says.
But the draft is usually defined by the top two players, particularly if one is a quarterback.
"(Dalton) doesn't have the arm some of those other guys have and he's not very big," the NFL scout says. "But he wins games, doesn't he? All he does is win, so I think that's a pretty good pick. I think it was a pretty solid draft all the way around. It would have been better if Carson was in the fold and they didn't have to go quarterback in the second. There were some D-tackles there."
Jones says the only thing he wanted that the Bengals didn't get was a running back before they took Baylor's Jay Finley with their last pick.
"There were some good guys left, but they would have had to have taken them about the time they got Whalen," Jones says, "and Whalen is a pretty good player."
Prisco says the Bengals came out of it in good shape and doesn't see much difference between what they did and the rest of the AFC North.
"They're like everybody else. They have good drafts and bad drafts," Prisco says. "Look at the most important positions in football: Quarterback, left tackle, cornerbacks, pass rushers. They drafted all their guys."