Kevin Zeitler, a 2012 first-round selection
As the NFL Draft inches closer, player personnel departments and coaching staffs around the league have buckled their seat belts and flipped the evaluation process into overdrive, using every resource at their disposal to pore over a myriad of available prospects. And so have the fans.
Dozens of draft gurus and former scouts are scattered throughout TV, radio and print, offering their opinions to eager fans. In recent years, YouTube has served as the all-important "eye test" for those fans. Who has burst, power, speed, hips, vision or a high motor? It's all a few clicks away.
All of that research attempts to answer two questions: who fits my team, and how much of an impact will they make?
The first question produces a lot of opinions, but it's ultimately decided by people who are paid to make the big decisions. But once those decisions are made, the second question can more easily be answered.
Perhaps YouTube can lend a hand in answering it, but as any seventh grade history teacher will tell you, 'To be prepared for the future, you must first learn about the past.'
And so begins a Bengals.com history lesson. Over the next three days, we'll take a look at the Bengals players drafted under head coach Marvin Lewis, and how much they played/didn't play as rookies.
Today, we'll look at the offensive side of the ball.
The guidelines are as follows:
--This info references participation for draft picks only. That means no college free agents, and no one selected by other teams.
--Rookie seasons only. Nothing after a rookie season is included here.
--Regular season only. Though Playoff participation is occasionally noted separately, it is not included in the data.
--Marvin Lewis era only. Lewis's first draft was in 2003. Nothing precluding Lewis is included in this info.
--Bengals participation only. If a player went to another team as a rookie, his participation data on that other team is not included here.
The Bengals under Lewis have drafted 14 offensive linemen – six tackles and eight interior linemen (count Andrew Whitworth as a tackle, since that's where he plays now). Eleven of those 14 played in at least one game during their rookie season, and seven had at least one start. All nine players selected prior to the fifth round played in at least one game.
Three of the 14 started on opening day – Kevin Zeitler (first round, 2012; RG), Eric Steinbach (second round, '03; LG) and Clint Boling (fourth round, 2011; RG). Three players started at least 12 games – Zeitler (16), Whitworth (12) and Steinbach (15). Zeitler's 16 starts make him one of only two Lewis draftees to start every game (QB Andy Dalton is the other). Zeitler also started a playoff game. One line draftee – Adam Kieft (fifth round, 2005) – never made the regular season roster, due to a training camp knee injury that proved to be career-ending. The Bengals have spent five fourth-round picks on O-linemen, the most of any round at that position.
Only three offensive linemen selected were not on the opening day roster. Andre Smith (first round, 2009) was on a roster exemption, due to a foot injury as well as a late signing. He was added to the roster the following week. Kieft was on Reserve/Injured, and Otis Hudson (fifth round, 2010) was on the practice squad.
Four of the seven total linemen selected since 2008 were still with the team in 2012 – Boling, Smith, Zeitler and Anthony Collins (fourth round, 2008).
The usual starters at four of the five spots on last season's offensive line were Bengals draft picks. Center, where Jeff Faine, Trevor Robinson and Kyle Cook split time last season, is the only position that was not occupied by a Bengals draft pick. Robinson was a college free agent signee of the Bengals last season, and Cook was a college free agent who spent his rookie training camp in 2007 with Minnesota, prior to signing with Cincinnati. Faine joined the Bengals as a veteran free agent signee late in training camp, following an injury to Cook.
The Bengals under Lewis have drafted four quarterbacks, and only one—Andy Dalton (second round, 2011)—saw time as a rookie. Dalton started all 16 games, and is one of two players under Lewis to have started every game as a rookie (G Kevin Zeitler is the other). Dalton also started a playoff game. Dalton at the time was the only QB in NFL history not drafted in the first round to start all 16 games of his rookie season, much less start all 16 games and lead his team to the playoffs.
The other three quarterbacks—Carson Palmer (first round, 2003), Jeff Rowe (fifth round, 2007) and Casey Bramlet (seventh round, 2004)—were with the team through the entire season, but spent most games in the role of designated third QB.
The Bengals under Lewis have drafted seven running backs – two fullbacks and five halfbacks. Only twice has a running back played on opening day – FB Jeremi Johnson (fourth round, 2003) and RB Bernard Scott (sixth round, '09). Johnson (16 games) and Scott (13 games) are also the only two running backs to have played in more than three games. The only two running backs to record a start are, you guessed it, Johnson (13) and Scott (two).
The two highest draft picks—RB Chris Perry (first round, 2004) and RB Kenny Irons (second round, '07)—both spent time on Reserve/Injured. Irons spent all 16 games on IR, and Perry battled injuries all season before being placed on IR for the final game.
Two backs—FB Fui Vakapuna (seventh round, 2009) and RB Jay Finley (seventh round, '11)—were not on the Bengals roster or practice squad on opening day. Vakapuna, though, was signed to the Bengals roster later in his rookie season.
Only one running back—Daniel Herron (sixth round, 2012)—spent time on the practice squad. Herron spent the first 12 games on the practice squad last season, before getting the call to the roster in December (played in three games).
The Bengals under Lewis have drafted 16 wide receivers. Seven were drafted in the first four rounds, and each of those seven ended up starting at least one game. Four of those seven played in at least 14 games.
In total, 11 of the 16 receivers played in at least one game, including eight who started at least once.
A.J. Green (first round, 2011) started 15 games as a rookie, the most by any receiver. Chris Henry (third round, 2005) and Marvin Jones (fifth round, '12) tied for the second-most, with five. Jones is the only receiver drafted after the fourth round to start.
Ten of the 16 total receivers were on the opening day roster, including seven who played or started. Green and Jordan Shipley (third round, 2010) are the only two receivers who started on opening day. Of the six receivers who were not on the opening day roster, three were on the practice squad and one was on IR.
The two players not with the team on opening day were Dezmon Briscoe (sixth round, 2010), who signed with Tampa Bay's practice squad after being released in final cuts, and Freddie Brown (seventh round, 2009), who spent time on the Bengals practice squad later in his rookie season.
The Bengals have selected five receivers in the third round, the most of any round at the position. Four receivers have gone in the fifth round, which is the second-most popular round.
Only four tight ends have been drafted by Lewis's Bengals, and all have come since 2008.
None of the four started on opening day, but two did play – Jermaine Gresham (first round, 2010) and Orson Charles (fourth round, '12). Chase Coffman (third round, 2009) was inactive for opening day, and Matt Sherry (sixth round, '08) was on IR.
Gresham and Charles were the only two tight ends to play or start a game. Gresham played in 15 games, with 10 starts, while Charles played in all 16 games.