The Cincinnati Bengals had 2 first round picks for the first time since pre Marvin Lewis. The last time they had multiple picks in the first round they took Brian Simmons and Takeo Spikes. Both ended up being quality LB's that had long careers. They were unlucky in that they played in the Bengals era where losing was the norm, but both ended being quality players. If the Bengals can get the same production from their 2 first round picks today that will be considered a success.
With their first pick, number 17 overall, the Bengals took Dre Kirkpatrick. Not many were suprised by this pick as the Bengals did have a need at Cornerback and lots of mock drafts had Kirkpatrick going to the Bengals at 17. Dre is a taller, physical CB that can help defend the run as well as the pass. The main concern with Kirkpatrick is he doesn't have elite speed, he ran a 4.51 40 yard dash at the combine. He kind of reminds me of Malcom Jenkins from Ohio State, who also had speed concerns and ended up having to move to Safety. One thing I will give Marvin Lewis credit for is he does know how to evaluate DB's and he's drafted two stellar CB's in the first round since he's been in Cincinnati.
When the Bengals were on the clock there were several players that could've been taken that would help fill a need with depth on this team, so there really wasn't a wrong way to go. Melvin Ingram, the DE from South Carolina was available and I thought he may have been the pick as he was rated very high by most and thought to be a top 10 pick. Honestly I wish they would've pulled the trigger on Ingram who went the very next pick to San Diego. Teams can never have too many good defensive lineman, look at all the injuries for the Bengals on the D Line last season and how they struggled the 2nd half of the season. I've said it a million times, winning football starts up front. Teams that win year in and year out are the ones that are deepest in the front 7 and on the O Line.
David DeCastro the top rated Guard in this class was still available and Guard is probably the biggest need on this team. Guard isn't valued very high by most NFL teams, but I think it should be. It's probably the most undervalued position in football in my opinion. There were other quality Guards available also which is probably why the Bengals opted to go with the only CB left with a 1st round grade.
Another way the could have gone was WR with Kendall Wright from Baylor. Wright is a bit undersized but a speedster who made a ton of plays for the Baylor Bears. This draft has quite a few quality WR's that could end up being nice number 2 WR's to compliment AJ Green, but only a few with the type of speed Wright possesses.
There were 3 picks in between the Bengals scheduled 17th and 21st picks and the 3 teams that held those picks were San Diego, Chicago, and Tennessee. All 3 could use a Guard and I was worried that maybe DeCastro, Zeitler, and Glenn, the top 3 rated Guards could all come off the board in a row. That was especially the case with DeCastro having such a high grade and Zeitler and Glenn having the versatility to play mulitple positions. I watched these 3 picks go by and not one of them took a Guard leaving DeCastro right for the pickens at 21.
The Bengals had something else in mind though and ended up trading back to the 27th spot with the New England Patriots. I knew then that there was no chance of DeCastro making it that far with Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Houston all having a need at the position. Sure enough the hated Steelers took him with the 24th pick and I wasn't feeling too great at the moment.
So I waited with anticipation for the 27th pick wondering who they would pick there. Would it be Stephen Hill the big speed WR from Georgia Tech. Maybe Doug Martin the RB from Boise State, although I'm never a fan of taking a RB in the 1st round unless it's an Adrian Peterson/Trent Richardson home run type of back. I thought maybe they take a D Lineman with this draft being stocked with them.
No, it ended up being Kevin Zeitler, the Guard from Wisconsin. I didn't know much about him but Dave Lapham a former Guard who played in a Super Bowl was giving this kid rave reviews. That's good enough for me. Wisconsin puts out top offensive lineman year after year that are intelligent, well coached players who succeed in the NFL so I am fairly happy with this pick. Mainly because like I said winning football starts up front and now that the Bengals have what looks to be a franchise QB they have to keep the O Line stocked and keep him protected.
Overall it was a decent 1st round for the Bengals. Not the way I would've picked it with how the draft fell but you can't argue their logic. All of the CB's on the roster are older players that are here on one year deals except for Leon Hall. Hall may not be ready to start the season either so the depth at CB was definitely needed and now they have a franchise CB to play across from Hall for the next five years.
If I was picking I would've gone Ingram at 17 with him falling there. I've watched a ton of Ingram and that guy is a stud pass rusher. The model for success is load up on D Lineman that can get after the QB, secondary players, and you have to find your QB. If you can do those 3 things and surround that QB with some playmakers you can compete for Super Bowls. It's simple be able to throw the ball and get players on defense that can disrupt the passing game. I would have stayed at 21 and took DeCastro as well. Lapham says Zeitler is just as good so that's fine, but they could've come out of the 1st round with the top 4-3 DE and the top rated Guard in years. Those two picks would've gone a long way towards the formula of disrupt the opponents passing game and boost your own by giving your QB more time to throw.
The grade for the round would have to be a B+. They did fill a need at CB which goes towards disrupting a passing game and they got a quality Guard that can come in and start right away. We'll see how this works out in the long run. Maybe Kirkpatrick ends up playing Safety due to lack of speed. I just think in the 1st round you have to go best player available if it fits your system and it's a position where there is some need. I think Ingram was that player at 17 and they went CB just because he was the last with a 1st round grade and they viewed that as a glaring need. The Zeitler pick will end up being a quality pick I believe, but he'll always be compared to DeCastro in Cincinnati. Also by making the trade back they allowed the Steelers to get DeCastro so that's why they don't get an A.