Cincinnati Bengals add speed, strength in draft, boost competition

Another year, another relatively unconventional NFL draft class for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Although practically everyone outside Paul Brown Stadium -- including me -- said the Bengals would be best served by doing everything in their power to get a receiver in Round 1, team decision-makers didn't listen. Instead, they were adamant about sticking close to their prearranged draft board. Sure, a run on the receiver position just before the Bengals' first-round pick didn't help my cause, but that didn't matter. The Bengals selected a first-round player who addressed a need and ought to fit in perfectly with the rest of the team.

If there was another theme to this draft, it was this: speed and strength. The Bengals got both in this draft.

Best move: Without question, the Bengals' best draft move was selecting defensive tackle Andrew Billings in the fourth round. Chosen 122nd overall, Billings took one of the draft's biggest tumbles, as he fell well out of the first round. A little more than a week ago, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay selected Billings for the Bengals in the first round of a live televised mock draft. Once Billings fell out of the first round in real life, Cincinnati thought about taking him in the second round. It instead used the 55th overall pick on receiver Tyler Boyd, a selection also in the running for "best move." By staying patient and taking a chance on selecting the 6-foot Billings in Round 4, the Bengals picked up a physical, strong player -- in high school, he squatted 805 pounds and benched 605 -- who now has a massive chip on his shoulder.

Riskiest move: It's hard to really consider any of the Bengals' selections reaches, particularly when you look at each player's measurables, statistics and game film. That said, the riskiest move had to be selecting linebacker Nick Vigil in the third round. The Utah State product had been told he would be a Day 3 pick, likely in the middle of the fourth round and possibly as late as the middle of the fifth. Like most of the Bengals' picks, he was a versatile player in college. Vigil can play any of the linebacker positions, and he comes to Cincinnati boasting a 4.66 40 time.

Most surprising move: The first-round selection of corner William Jackson III came as a surprise, primarily because Jackson plays a position that wasn't as big of a draft need as receiver. It also came as a surprise because Jackson had been predicted for so long to go to the Steelers, who picked a spot later. The run on receivers that preceded the Bengals' pick led them to Jackson, but he's a solid pick who could contribute right away.

File it away: Look for Jackson to compete immediately for playing time at the outside cornerback spot occupied by Dre Kirkpatrick. Although Kirkpatrick has earned the right to enter 2016 as the primary starter there, Jackson could factor into a rotation at some point. Billings almost certainly should see playing time this season, even if only as an occasional two-down player.

Thumbs-up: Once again, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to receive widespread praise for the way they put together a draft class. That has been happening since 2011, when they landed A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in Rounds 1 and 2. This time around, the Bengals targeted speed and strength in an effort to bolster an already deep roster with younger talent. Jackson's selection might have been stunning, given the need for a first-round receiver, but Boyd's pick quickly took care of that. Both players have been lauded for their quickness, as has Vigil. Billings and his bench press made the Bengals stronger. Some of these picks might play this season, but their real value will be seen a few years from now.