By Adam Caplan
June 15, 2012
CB, G, WR, RB, DT, DE
Round 1 - Dre Kirkpatrick/CB
Round 1 - Kevin Zeitler/G
Round 2 - Devon Still/DT
Round 3 - Mohamed Sanu/WR
Round 3 - Brandon Thompson/DT
Round 4 - Orson Charles/TE
Round 5 - Shaun Prater/CB
Round 5 - Marvin Jones/WR
Round 5 - George Iloka/S
Round 6 - Dan Herron/RB
WR (veteran), DE, OLB
The Bengals were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL last season by making the playoffs. And armed with an extra first-round pick as a result of the Carson Palmer trade as well as 10 selections overall, they can build on last year’s success with the ability to add some impact players in this year’s draft.
The first of the two-first round picks, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, gives the Bengals badly needed youth and physicality to the position. And with starter Leon Hall coming off Achilles tendon surgery and veteran CB Nate Clements turning 33 in December, the Bengals needed to add depth in secondary. Kirkpatrick played in a pro style defense at the University of Alabama, which likely played in the Bengals’ decision to draft him.
The Bengals filled another need with the selection of G Kevin Zeitler with their other first-round pick. Zeitler was arguably the best interior offensive lineman available for this year’s draft. With the decision not to re-sign veteran G Bobbie Williams, Zeitler has been penciled in as the new starting right guard.
Depth on the interior of the defensive line was a clear priority for the Bengals, so addressed that issue with the selection of DT Devin Still in the second round. Still, according to personnel sources, displayed enough talent on tape to warrant a late-round selection, so the Bengals potentially got a good value with him. Still, who often flashes big play ability on tape, was a bit inconsistent, which could explain why he dropped out of the first round.
Another position which needed to be addressed was at wide receiver. And the Bengals addressed it with the selection of Mohamed Sanu in the third round. A favorite of the scouting community due to his solid route running and good hands, Sanu’s game resembles that of veteran WR Anquan Boldin. After selecting Still, the depth issue at defensive tackle was seemingly addressed, but the Bengals didn’t stop there with the position. They selected DT Brandon Thompson with their next third-rounder. Thompson is known in scouting circles for his good short area quickness and strength. And the Bengals got a player here who clearly could start down the road.
Tight end really wasn’t a need position other than to add some depth at some point later in free agency, but the Bengals added one in the fourth round with Orson Charles. Charles is known for his speed and athleticism, and the Bengals can use Charles and 2010 first-rounder Jermaine Gresham on the field at the same time in a similar fashion to how the Patriots use TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Fifth-round pick Shaun Prater is a true developmental cornerback. He won’t be asked to make a big contribution this season due to the additions of veteran CBs Terence Newman and Jason Allen. However, Newman and Clements are only signed through this season, so Prater could push for a role in 2013 and beyond. He’s known in scouting circles for his athleticism, but is a bit of a raw prospect. The second fifth-rounder, WR Marvin Jones, could have easily been selected at least a round higher based on his excellent route running and solid hands. And his run after-the-catch ability is a good fit for the Bengals’ version of the West Coast offense. And because the Bengals really are thin at wide receiver, Jones could push for a significant role this season in training camp. The final fifth-rounder, George Iloka, joins a young group of safeties. Known for his solid coverage ability and really good size, Iloka should be able to earn a roster spot this season due to the lack of depth at safety.
The Bengals used their last pick of the draft with RB Dan Herron in the sixth round. Herron is known in scouting circles as a tough inside runner with a deliberate style of attacking defenses. He should push for the No. 2 role down the road. He impressed scouts with a good set of practices during Senior Bowl week.
The Bengals did an excellent job of drafting for value while addressing many needs from both sides of the ball. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t push for the AFC North Division crown and make a deep run through the playoffs.