It used to be that Bengals drafts would be exercises in frustration but the past three have been un-Bengallike in their results.
With 10 picks, they addressed key needs on offense and defense, using five on each side. Besides finding their starting right guard, they have competition on the defensive line, cornerback and tight end. They also drafted two wide receivers who will compete to start opposite A.J. Green. The draft is not flashy but they did stock themselves with some depth and got younger. In many ways, it followed the way the Ravens and Steelers have attacked past drafts.
Guard Kevin Zeitler: The Bengals moved down six spots and also got a third-round pick from New England. They liked both David DeCastro and Zeitler but Zeitler might be a better fit because he is considered to be slightly better as a run blocker. He also gives them their starting right guard for the next five years.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones: Could be another deep threat to complement Green and he could be in the mix to return punts.
A closer look at the Bengals picks:
Round 1/17 - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, 6-2, 186, Alabama
The Bengals needed to grab a young, shutdown corner in the first round and they ended up getting the last one on the board.
Round 1/21 - Kevin Zeitler, OG, 6-3, 322, Wisconsin
Barring injury, he will be the starter at right guard when the season opens.
Round 2/53 - Devon Still, DT, 6-5, 307, Penn State
A little bit of a surprise that they addressed the defensive line early but he gives the Bengals another solid pass rusher up the middle.
Round 3/83 - Mohamed Sanu, WR, 6-1, 211, Rutgers
A big need during the offseason has been to find a wide receiver to line up opposite A.J. Green. Sanu is a physical receiver who had 115 receptions last season, which was a Big East single-season record.
Round 3/93 - Brandon Thompson, DT, 6-2, 314, Clemson
He did 36 bench press reps at the combine so it is also another big, strong presence to stop the run.
Round 4/116 - Orson Charles, TE, 6-3, 251, Georgia
Tight end was thought to be the least of the Bengals needs going into the draft but they added competition to the group with a physical blocker who also is good as a receiver.
Round 5/156 - Shaun Prater, CB, 5-10, 190, Iowa
The group has a lot of veterans along with Kirkpatrick but Prater's biggest impact this year could come on special teams, where he was a gunner in punt coverage.
Round 5/166 - Marvin Jones, WR, 6-2, 199, California
Pretty good size and speed, he will also be in the mix for the competition to see who starts opposite Green.
Round 5/167 -- George Iloka, S, 6-4, 225, Boise State
Has the size and speed to match up with tight ends. There is plenty of competition for playing time with the only absolute being Reggie Nelson as one of the starters.
Round 6/191 - Dan "Boom" Herron, RB, 5-10, 213, Ohio State
Doesn't have great speed but his strength is running between the tackles. He is another guy though whose route to the roster depends on special teams contributions.
--Of the top three needs for the Cincinnati Bengals going into the draft, they filled two of them on Thursday in the first round by taking a cornerback and offensive guard.
With the 17th overall pick, they selected Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. After trading with New England out of the 21st spot, they dropped to 27th and took Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler.
"I think in both players they have opportunities to start and work their way into the lineup. We drafted both of them to play," head coach Marvin Lewis said.
Kirkpatrick added some youth to a Bengals cornerback group that coming into the draft had one player 25 or younger. He is the sixth first-round corner, joining Hall, Nate Clements, Adam Jones, Jason Allen and Terence Newman.
There is no pressure for Kirkpatrick to start right away since Hall and Clements are expected to be the starters. This is a move though that addresses an uncertain future since four of the corners have contracts that expire at the end of the season.
"That's one advantage I do have. Some guys come in and play with young guys. I can come in and learn the system from veterans," Kirkpatrick said. "I'm going to learn how to manage the field, win on press coverage and how to watch film. I'm going to learn a lot from those guys."
Bengals secondary coach Mark Carrier said that their scheme mirrors Alabama's in that the Crimson Tide played plenty of press coverage and also leave their cornerback on an island, leaving plenty of one-on-one coverage.
Zeitler is only the second guard in team history selected in the first round but he is one of the more consistent blockers in the nation. Zeitler has also been a favorite of offensive line coach Paul Alexander's for awhile.
"You will like him. He's a tough football player," Alexander said. "He's the type of guy if you went fishing you want to spend time with. Sometimes you go out on a lake and after a half hour you want to throw them in the water."
Zeitler's greatest strength though is as a run blocker, which is one area where the Bengals have struggled the past couple seasons.
"We've had some of the top rushing statistics throughout the country and I believe it just shows what we're able to do there," Zeitler said. "We're doing the right things here and NFL teams seem to like it."
Zeitler should be in the mix for the right guard spot which currently has Otis Hudson, Clint Boling and possibly Jacob Bell. Bobbie Williams was the starter there the past eight seasons but is not expected to be re-signed.
"His greatest strength is he's productive. He has enough size and versatility," Alexander said.
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