It’s always difficult to predict how the NFL Draft unfolds. When you think you know where one player is going, the Detroit Lions are banging the table in celebration to take him 16 picks earlier.
The Cincinnati Bengals experienced the opposite last night during the first round. They watched as one of their main targets, defensive end Myles Murphy, slid all the way to pick No. 28 and wasted no time turning the pick in.
Head coach Zac Taylor told reporters afterwards he did not expect Murphy to fall as far as he did, citing how surprised he was after preparing for different scenarios, and most of the media would agree.
According to Arif Hasan’s NFL Draft Industry Consensus Big Board, which accounts for 70 different big boards from around draft media, Murphy was ranked as the 15th-best player in the entire class.
As the 28th overall pick, he was the highest-ranked prospect on the consensus board, which made him the biggest steal of the first round according to the consensus.
With the first round complete, here is how pick compared to their consensus big board ranking
“reach” = player was taken earlier than their big board rank, “steal” = player was taken later than their big board rank. pic.twitter.com/Ce07Nsbo0y
— Anthony Reinhard (@reinhardNFL) April 28, 2023
Other big-time steals were cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who was drafted by the New England Patriots, and edge rusher Nolan Smith, who was swooped up by the Philadelphia Eagles right after Murphy was picked. Smith, the 18th-ranked player on the consensus big board was just about the same level of a steal that Murphy was.
A lot of bad draft picks can be traced back to teams attempting to outsmart the consensus. Billy Price is a great example. The Bengals drafted Price right after Frank Ragnow went off the board back in 2018. It was a clear reach at a position of need, as Price was consistently ranked in the Day 2 range.
Targeting players that are generally ranked higher than were they’re lasting is a safe strategy to at least get equal return on investment. Murphy has some production questions after a solid, but not dominant, three years at Clemson, but was ultimately worth the pick the Bengals used on him.
If the Bengals have six more picks like Murphy, they can enter offseason programs feeling fantastic about their roster, no matter the positions they addressed.
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