The Cincinnati Bengals did not address any of their primary needs with their first round pick. They didn’t select a strong safety, nor a running back, nor even an offensive lineman, any of which was largely expected by many fans and pundits alike.
Instead, the team went on offense, leaving their holes on the defensive side of the ball for a tight end out of Notre Dame.
The funny thing is that this may be why I’m more excited for the Bengals upcoming season than I have ever been.
Tyler Eifert, you can officially count me as a member of your fan club.
And Bengals fans, I think you should follow suit.
The last two years, Andy Dalton has had one guy on offense that repeatedly helped him move the chains through the air. The guy that at one point had more touchdowns than games played last season: sensational young receiver, A.J. Green.
But that’s it. The chemistry really didn’t have time to develop between Dalton and Mohamed Sanu, as the receiver went down with a foot injury after a short stint opposite Green at wide-out.
Marvin Jones was just beginning to emerge as an effective receiver as the season drew to a quick close. He even showed glimpses of his ability to make the big play down the field.
The position of tight end for the Bengals has been a strange case these last few years.
Jermaine Gresham has also shown glimpses of the high draft stock he brought to the table a few years ago. However, he has also been plagued by dropped passes, something that Dalton would certainly love to see a lot less of on 2nd and long.
In steps Tyler Eifert, and suddenly the situation on offense gets a whole lot more intriguing.
Eifert, ironically selected with the same overall pick as was Gresham, brings with him a 6 ft-5, 250 pound frame.
He can also catch anything within a half-mile radius coming his way.
And here we see the reason why I am so excited.
Next year Dalton will not only have A.J. Green, but Jones, Sanu, Gresham, and now Eifert, all supposedly full health going into Week 1 of the regular season.
That’s an offensive lineup that can and will give defensive coordinators nightmares on Saturday nights before games. In fact, the only problem I can foresee is getting playing time for all of our young stars.
In the NFL, credit has always largely gone to the quarterbacks and the wide receivers. The tight ends are usually input into an offense in a supporting role.
Ever since New England drafted Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, that idea has suffered quite a few cracks at its foundation.
Because of the huge success that Tom Brady’s offense has had, Cincinnati is drawing a great deal of comparisons to the Patriots’ style of play since they drafted another potential star tight end.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the comparison. I mean, have you seen the Patriots’ offense?
What I will say is that Andy Dalton is a bit of a long shot to ever become another Tom Brady. That’s not a bash on Dalton. It’s just the facts. I think Jason Marcum, editor of Stripe Hype, put it perfectly when he predicted last year for Dalton to have “a floor of Chad Pennington and a ceiling of Matt Ryan.”
There is nothing wrong with having Matt Ryan as your man under center.
And as Dalton continues to develop, the weapons he will have in his third year will certainly make his job a lot easier.