Bengals' 2018 draft class mediocre outside of safety Jessie Bates

Bengals safety Jessie Bates (30) had three interceptions in his rookie season. Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals might have found their next star safety in Jessie Bates III, but the rest of the 2018 draft class is still very much a work in progress. The Bengals didn't get much out of their 11 picks beyond the first three rounds, and everyone below the fifth round barely contributed. Third-round pick Malik Jefferson couldn't get on the field despite poor linebacker play and injuries, and though seventh-round pick Auden Tate showed promise, he didn't play a ton.

Grade: Below average

Best rookie: Bates. It was clear from the beginning the Bengals had something in Bates, which is why they released longtime veteran George Iloka in a surprise move during training camp. Bates started all 16 games and had three interceptions (one for a touchdown) and seven pass deflections, along with 111 combined tackles. He's likely to be a fixture in the secondary for years to come.

Most improved rookie: DE Sam Hubbard. Hubbard was part of the defensive line rotation from the very beginning, and eventually got more snaps than longtime veteran Michael Johnson. Hubbard ended the year with six sacks and a forced fumble, including two sacks against the Raiders late in the season. He's a likely candidate to take Johnson's permanent spot in the rotation in 2019, as Johnson will be a free agent.

Jury is still out on ...: Center Billy Price. Price was projected to be a starter after he was selected in the first round, but he had a rough training camp and his progress was put on hold because of a foot injury in Week 2. Price was still able to return and play in 10 games, but his year was up and down. It's hard to give him an evaluation for several factors. Not only did the injury prevent him from progressing normally, but the rest of the offensive line struggled as a unit. Year 2 will tell more about Price's ceiling as a permanent starter.

Undrafted rookie evaluation: The Bengals didn't find any undrafted rookie gems the way they have in previous years. Chris Worley couldn't crack the 53-man roster despite the bad linebacker play, and nobody else showed much this year. However, defensive lineman Niles Scott, who was originally picked up as an undrafted rookie free agent in San Francisco, showed potential after he was signed by the Bengals in late November. He's a guy who could compete for a spot in the rotation next year.