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2013 NFL Draft: Cincinnati Bengals Add More Firepower to Offensive Arsenal
By Bob Evans
Over the past two seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals have inserted their name into the NFL playoff picture. It is not easy to fight the likes of the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the playoffs in the AFC North, but a retooled roster has made that possible for the Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, while they have stepped into the front door of the playoffs, the Houston Texans have promptly sent them packing with back-to-back opening round losses the last two seasons. Despite having one of the game’s best wide receivers in A.J. Green, the Bengals found themselves muddled in an offensive power outage both times.
Locked and loaded with a number of picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Bengals decided to do something about this issue—adding two running backs, one wide receiver and one of the most dynamic tight ends in the entire draft. While the rewards of their sixth-round selections (Rex Burkhead and Cobi Hamilton) may not be reaped this season, their first and second-round selections should make an immediate impact this year.
The first of those selections was at No. 21 overall in Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.
Standing 6’5” and 250 pounds, the Notre Dame senior is in the mold of the NFL’s latest trend—big, pass-catching tight ends. Last season he snagged 50 receptions for 685 yards and four touchdowns for the Fighting Irish. In his career in South Bend, Eifert reeled in 140 receptions for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns.
While those are not eye-popping numbers for a collegiate career by any means, Eifert’s lack of “gaudy numbers” is more of a product of poor quarterback play from the Fighting Irish than his performance on the field. Pairing him with the likes of Green, Jermaine Gresham and quarterback Andy Dalton will open up plenty of opportunities during his rookie season, as he will certainly be a major threat in the red zone.
The team’s second-round selection, running back Giovani Bernard from North Carolina, proved what offensive coordinator Jay Gruden stated earlier in the offseason—the Bengals would add a dynamic, change of pace running back to their stable. Standing 5’8” and 202 pounds, Bernard only posted a 4.53 40-yard dash time at the combine, but his game speed is much quicker.
In his two seasons with the Tar Heels, Bernard posted rushing averages of 5.2 and 6.7, racking up 2,481 yards and 25 touchdowns on 423 carries. He also flashed an ability to catch passes out of the backfield, snagging 92 receptions for 852 yards and six touchdowns as well.
In these two players, the Bengals have added some much needed firepower to their West Coast Offense. With Green, Gresham and BenJarvus Green-Ellis demanding the majority of the attention, Eifert and Bernard will be able to step right in and play important roles in the Bengals’ offense.
If the Bengals results are anything like they look to be on paper, not only will this team be making some noise in the AFC North for a third consecutive season, but the Houston Texans may find their task a little more difficult the third time around if they meet again.
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