Tyler Boyd the clear standout of Bengals' past two draft classes

CINCINNATI -- It's hard to make a complete assessment of a draft class after just one or two years.

But that doesn't mean there can't be snapshots of how far along these players are.

How are the Cincinnati Bengals' past two draft classes doing? The best grade right now would be "incomplete." Their 2016 first- and fourth-round picks didn't play a snap this season, and only two players in the class got significant snaps on offense.

The 2015 class is still a question mark, after the Bengals' first- and second-round tackles failed to establish themselves as starters. Out of eight players in the 2015 draft, only cornerback Josh Shaw made a consistent impact from game to game.

Does that mean the draft class is a failure? If possible, the Bengals like to bring their players along slowly, so that question really can't be answered until Year 3.

Two years in, it's clear that wide receiver Tyler Boyd pulled away from the pack. As for the rest, it will be a wait-and-see game.

Here's how the past two draft classes contributed in 2016:


CB William Jackson III (1st round): Jackson tore his pectoral muscle in the preseason and was placed on IR, missing the entire season. The Bengals were going to bring him back from IR once he had healed, but a late-season injury to RB Giovani Bernard forced them to bring back Cedric Peerman instead.

WR Tyler Boyd (2nd round): Boyd has clearly been the best player in the Bengals' past two draft classes, starting as the slot receiver from Day 1. He had his share of rookie moments, such as a fumble against the Steelers in Week 2 and not getting out of bounds in Week 16 when the Bengals were trying to make a late-half drive with no timeouts.

While Boyd went through inconsistent patches during the season, he finished with 54 catches for 603 yards and a touchdown.

LB Nick Vigil (3rd round): Vigil didn't see significant defensive snaps until the final three games of the season when Vontaze Burfict was out with a concussion. However, he played in every game as a rookie on special-teams units. Vigil averaged 69 percent of special-teams snaps per game.

DT Andrew Billings (4th round): Billings injured his knee in the preseason and did not take a regular-season snap.

G Christian Westerman (5th round): Westerman spent the entire season on the active roster but was a game-day inactive and did not take any snaps.

WR Cody Core (6th round): Core started out the season as a healthy inactive on game days, but saw a major increase in snaps after A.J. Green was injured. He went from no snaps in the first half of the season to taking 90 percent of the snaps in Week 17.

Despite being inactive for half of the season, Core finished with 17 catches for 200 yards.

S Clayton Fejedelem (7th round): Fejedelem did not take any defensive snaps until Week 12, when safeties Shawn Williams and Derron Smith were injured. Cornerback Josh Shaw got the starting nod at safety in that game instead. Fejedelem played in every game on special-teams units.


T Cedric Ogbuehi (1st round): Ogbuehi sat out most of the 2015 season as he recovered from an ACL injury suffered in college, playing in the final five games of the season. In 2016, he missed much of the preseason with a toe injury, but made it back in time for the season opener.

Ogbuehi did not miss a snap for the first five games of the season as the starting right tackle, but was briefly benched in Week 6 for Eric Winston. Ogbuehi and Winston shared right tackle duties for five more games, before he was made a healthy inactive in Week 13.

The Bengals gave Ogbuehi a try at left tackle in Week 16, but he injured his shoulder in the final week of the season and was placed on IR.

T Jake Fisher (2nd round): Fisher was mostly an also-eligible offensive lineman for the first half of the second, but took over Ogbuehi's platoon role at right tackle for three games. He started the final two games at right tackle.

TE Tyler Kroft (3rd round): Kroft played in 14 games this season and was a significant contributor to the special-teams units. He was injured the final two games of the season and finished with 10 catches for 92 yards.

LB Paul Dawson (3rd round): Dawson was put on the practice squad at the beginning of the season and played in the final two games, only on special-teams units.

S Josh Shaw (4th round): Shaw showed significant growth in his second season, playing in all 16 games and starting 12 as a slot cornerback and backup safety. He finished with three pass deflections and also had a game-sealing interception in Week 1 against the Jets. Shaw doubled as a special-teams contributor.

DT Marcus Hardison (4th round): Hardison was a game-day inactive in 2015 and spent the 2016 season on injured reserve.

TE C.J. Uzomah (5th round): Uzomah, who played in only five games in 2015, began 2016 as the starting tight end, but his snaps decreased after Tyler Eifert returned him injury. Uzomah was injured in the back half of the season and missed six games. He caught 25 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown.

S Derron Smith (6th round): Smith's only significant contribution on defense was in Week 11 when Shawn Williams was injured during the game. However, Smith was also injured in that same game

WR Mario Alford (7th round): Alford spent the 2015 season with the Bengals but was waived/injured at the beginning of this season.