Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins helped Bengals have PFF’s top graded rookie draft class

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Chris Roling
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The Cincinnati Bengals turned prime draft positioning into the NFL’s best draft class.

So says Pro Football Focus, which just ranked the most productive rookie classes from one to 32 and placed the Bengals first.

Why? Exceeded expectations by the big names:

Why they’re ranked here: Quarterback Joe Burrow (No. 1 overall) finished the 2020 NFL season as the second-most valuable first-round rookie, while wide receiver Tee Higgins (No. 33 overall) ranked second among second-round selections. Both players far exceeded the production that was expected of them, and Burrow was on pace to be the most valuable rookie in the entire class this year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 11.

One could argue Joe Burrow performed as expected and the Bengals shouldn’t get too much credit for making one of the most obvious picks in years.

But Tee Higgins is where the team deserves a ton of credit. They said they viewed him as a first-round product after making him the first pick of the second round and he performed like it. Higgins seemed to make franchise player A.J. Green irrelevant while leading the team in receiving.

The rest of the rookie class didn’t hurt either. Third-rounder Logan Wilson showed promise at linebacker and sixth-rounder Hakeem Adeniji even stepped in to play notable snaps at offensive tackle.

Now drafting fifth in 2021, the Bengals have a chance to again fight for the No. 1 spot.

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