The Cincinnati Bengals had a successful day three of the 2021 NFL Draft, and they put an emphasis on building this team in the trenches. After adding solid value through the first three rounds, they were able to shore up some positions in rounds 4-7. Assuming that a few of their seven picks on day three pan out to be key players, then the Bengals had a great draft.
Obviously it is nearly impossible to predict if a fifth of sixth round pick will turn into a rotational player, let alone a starter, but on paper they made the right selections. The main focus was offensive and defensive line, which were the two weakest positions on the team last year.
Here are the Bengals draft grades and analysis for day three of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Bengals Draft Grades for Rounds 4-7 | 2021 NFL Draft
Round 4: DE Cameron Sample, Tulane
Bengals Draft Grade: B+
Cameron Sample is a very different type of pass rusher than DE Joseph Ossai, who they snagged in the third round. Sample has more strength and size, coming in around 275 pounds. He is not as quick as Ossai, but that allows him to move inside if need be. He has the versatility to play multiple positions across the defensive line, and that flexibility should get him on the field early and often. Sample finished his career at Tulane earning First Team All-AAC, and having a fairly dominant Senior Bowl. He won the defensive MVP in that game, and showed flashes of dominating at the point of attack. If he continues to bulk up and work on his quickness, he could easily develop into a starter.
Round 4: DT/NT Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Bengals Draft Grade: C
Tyler Shelvin is a mountain of a man, and another former teammate of Joe Burrow at LSU. It seems Duke Tobin and Zac Taylor are attempting to surround Burrow with as many familiar faces as possible. Weighing in around 350 pounds, Shelvin is stout at stuffing the run, but he is not a very talented pass rusher. Shelvin can back up DT D.J. Reader, but it is hard to imagine Shelvin turning into a formidable starter at any point. Considering Reader missed the majority of the season, this pick makes sense from a depth perspective, but that is the extent of it. It is noteworthy that the Bengals are addressing their defensive line by drafting an array of different styles of lineman, and if one or two can turn out to be good players, that is a success.
Round 4: OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
Bengals Draft Grade: A-
D’Ante Smith was a three-year starter at left tackle for ECU, and could potentially become a long-term solution at tackle, but he is projected to play guard for his first couple years. Smith was consistent throughout his collegiate career, and he was another player that impressed at the Senior Bowl. The Bengals know what their issues are, and hope that offensive line coach, Frank Pollack, can build Smith into a solid backup immediately, and potential starting guard. Smith is very effective using his hands when taking on edge rushers, but he will have to be much quicker if he kicks inside to guard. There were draft experts that loved Smith’s potential, so grabbing him in the back-end of the fourth round is great value for the Bengals.
Round 5: K Evan McPherson, Florida
Bengals Draft Grade: D+
Evan McPherson was arguably the best kicker in the draft, and kicker was a major need for the Bengals. He made 51-60 field goals throughout his career at Florida, and drilled 5-of-8 field goals of at least 50 yards. But drafting a kicker in the fifth round is not great value. McPherson was extremely accurate and had the leg to kick from 50+ with ease, but there were other talented players on the board for this pick. It is not debatable that he has the potential to be a great kicker in the NFL, which has been a rough position for the last few years in Cincinnati, it just seems they could have gotten him in the sixth or seventh round, and got much better value in the fifth.
Round 6: C Trey Hill, Georgia
Bengals Draft Grade: B–
Trey Hill battled injury problems throughout his last season as Georgia, but he has the size and strength to contribute at the next level. As everyone knows, the best ability is availability, and that is somewhat of a concern for Hill. He had season-ending surgery on both of his knees in 2020, but before that he was fairly durable. Hill is extremely physical and aggressive with his hands, and with his size, 6-3, 320 pounds, he has some flexibility across the offensive line. His technique is not as sharp as the Bengals would like it to be, and that is why he fell to the sixth round, but he is very physical and nasty, which is what Frank Pollack looks for in lineman. The Bengals are putting all of their faith in Pollack to develop these lineman, and turn some of their careers around.
Round 6: RB Chris Evans, Michigan
Bengals Draft Grade: B+
After the Bengals lost RB Giovani Bernard, there was a small need to address, even though they re-signed Samaje Perine. Chris Evans averaged 5.6 yards per carry throughout his collegiate career. His best two seasons were his freshman and sophomore years, due to battling other backs on the roster, and dealing with a suspension and injuries his last two seasons. Evans showed an ability to catch the ball out of backfield, which is something the Bengals lack. Considering Mixon’s injury history, it was a smart move to grab another capable back that won’t command many touches if he can make the roster. Evans showed flashes of being a very talented back at a young age, and he is an intriguing prospect that the Bengals could utilize.
Round 7: DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State
Bengals Draft Grade: B
Wyatt Hubert improved every single season at Kansas State, and he has an extremely high motor. As a seventh round pick, there are not lofty expectations on Hubert, but with how much he improved from his freshman season, it would not be surprising to see him make the final roster. He has the strength and run stopping ability to play in the NFL, and if he continues to improve rushing the passer, he can be a valuable rotational piece for the Bengals. Letting Carl Lawson walk away was a tough pill to swallow, but with how much draft capital the Bengals invested in their defensive line, it makes it much easier to accept.