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Bengals 10th in ESPN's post-draft rankings

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CINCINNATI -- Yes, it's still only May.

But ESPN's team of more than 80 writers, editors and television personalities have already teamed up for a post-draft league Power Rankings. Can these Power Rankings tell us much about the 2015 season right now? Probably not.

Regardless, the Cincinnati Bengals check in at No. 10, one spot lower than they were in the end-of-season rankings published at the start of last year's playoffs.


As you can see in the link above, the slight drop appears to be attributed to the Bengals' lack of drafting impact players for a deep 2015 run.

As someone who voted the Bengals seventh on his Power Rankings ballot, I can't say I agree with the No. 10 ranking. The goal, in my mind, was to consider where teams were -- not only after the draft, but after free agency, too. To me, the Bengals improved this offseason, even if they didn't address many immediate needs directly through the draft.

Sure, they only added one true pass-rusher in defensive tackle Marcus Hardison during the draft, but don't forget Michael Johnson's return in March. Although he had a comparatively difficult 2014 season in Tampa Bay, there is a belief in Cincinnati that he will be better largely because he knows this system much better than he knew the Buccaneers' scheme. Part of his struggles last season were the product of learning the new defense. He also spent the entire season nursing an ankle injury. Now back with the team that drafted him, a healthier Johnson should perform better this season.

The Bengals also added depth this offseason on the offensive line, a clear indication they are trying to keep Andy Dalton protected and keep the ball on the ground. Running Jeremy Hill will have another year of experience, and Giovani Bernard's load might be lessened with added opportunities for backup running back Rex Burkhead. The pass-catchers also received a jolt this offseason with Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert coming back from season-long injuries.

Could this Bengals team win a playoff game? Who knows. Are they better than No. 10 in the NFL? I think so, but 10th isn't a bad place to be, either. Does it really matter if they're first, 10th or 32nd right now? Nope, after all, it's still only May.