The Cincinnati Bengals appeared to land one of the biggest steals of the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft when they selected tight end Orson Charles from Georgia in the fourth round (No. 116 overall).
Charles (6-2, 251, 4.7) was ranked as the third-best TE in the draft by the vast majority of draft experts and was expected to be a third-round pick. Therefore, the Bengals continued their trend of getting excellent value in this draft. Charles is both a playmaker and an extremely-physical performer (35 reps on the bench at the combine, which set the all-time record for TE’s).
Why did Charles drop? Because of a DUI arrest in March. However, everyone that has studied his background lauds him for his high character and says it was an isolated incident. Charles was a first-team All-SEC selection as a junior in 2011 (second-team as a sophomore) and decided to leave early for the professional ranks. I think this was a great pick as the Bengals now have the makings of a solid 1-2 punch at the tight end position for years with Jermaine Gresham (first-round pick in 2010) and Charles. This also gives Cincinnati 300 players from Georgia on its roster. All right, the number is actually six (Geno Atkins, Clint Boling, Charles, Robert Geathers, A.J. Green and Dennis Roland).
The Bengals have liked them some Bulldogs for quite some time. Wow, it’s actually been seven years since the team selected UGA players David Pollack and Odell Thurman with their first-two picks of the draft? Neither player lasted more than two seasons in the NFL, although Pollack did have a legitimate excuse – something called a broken neck. (Honestly, he was looking like a bust even before the injury, though.) Pollack was the Bengals’ first-round pick in 2005, while Thurman was the second-rounder. Thurman starred as a rookie when he won the starting middle linebacker job in camp and helped lead the team to the playoffs. However, the Bengals eventually learned while he fell so far in the draft as his actions off-the-field led to a quick departure from the league.
Prater leads fifth-round selections
With their first of three fifth-round picks (No. 156 overall), the Bengals nabbed cornerback Shaun Prater from Iowa. Prater (5-10, 190) has very good speed – he tested at 4.48 in the 40 at his pro day. Mike Zimmer’s defense now has plenty of corners on the roster with first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, Nate Clements, Terence Newman, Leon Hall, Jason Allen, Brandon Ghee, Pacman Jones and Prater. Obviously Hall is a question mark, while Ghee and Jones will likely get cut. Well, at least I keep hoping Jones’ sorry ass gets the axe.
* With the No. 166 overall pick, Cincinnati selected WR Marvin Jones from Cal. Jones (6-1, 199, 4.46) is a big guy that can run well, and will likely make the active roster as a rookie. He’s also not related to Pacman as far as I know. Marvin Jones had a good showing at the combine when he not only ran in the 4.4’s, but led all wideouts with 22 reps on the bench. He was also among the leaders in the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. Once again, a good value pick for the Bengals. What is going on here?
* With their final fifth-rounder – the 167th overall pick of the draft – the Bengals took safety George Iloka from Boise State. NFL.com said the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Iloka “carries a third-round value.” He’s huge for a safety and this reminds me a lot of the Robert Sands pick last year. Speaking of huge safeties, the Bengals also have Taylor Mays on the roster. The other safety on the roster is sure-fire starter Reggie Nelson who the team re-signed this offseason. The team definitely needed another safety and Iloka is a safe bet to make the active roster. Now the question is who will line up as a starter opposite Nelson.
* The Bengals' final pick of the draft was Ohio State running back Boom Herron who they took in the sixth round (No. 191 overall). I know Boom personally, so I’m highly biased here (full disclosure) but I love this pick this late in the proceedings. The Bengals needed a running back and Herron (5-10, 213, 4.5) is a hard-nosed runner with good vision who I think will make the active roster. (I’m Jon Gruden-like in thinking that all 10 draft picks will make the 2012 active roster.) Herron was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior in 2010 and would have been drafted higher if not for a six-game suspension which greatly affected his numbers as a senior.
* Overall, it was a strong draft from the Men in Stripes. Analysts such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper are already touting the Bengals’ draft as one of the best in the league. In fact, Kiper called it “perhaps the best.” They did have three extra picks, which made things a bit easier, but the bottom line is the front office did a good job.