The Bengals were one of 5 teams to make two selections in the first round, which I think automatically puts them in the top 5 of the draft so far. (Even if the sports media largely ignores them.)
I am inclined to give the first round a “B+” grade. Like most of you, there were guys available that I thought would have made better picks. But they did address clear needs, and they should get good credit for that.
Guys they could have taken but didn’t:
Melvin Ingram. With Howard, Lawson, Moch and Muckelroy, OLB is pretty covered.
Riley Reiff. Value pick of the first round for Detroit at #23. But the Bengals already have three good tackles two good tackles and Andre Smith.
Dont’a Hightower. A bit of a reach at #17. I’d have loved to get him at #21 (had they not traded with NE). But I would argue that Zeitler plus whomever they take with NE’s round 3 pick presents greater overall value than getting Hightower at #21.
David DeCastro. I was pissed when the Steelers took him. (“Great… now not only do they not get him, they have to battle him twice a year for the next decade!”) But the word is that the Bengals valued DeCastro and Zeitler the same. Allow me to translate:
- DeCastro was graded a higher. The Bengals rolled the dice in trading with NE that he might slide that far… and lost. But you don’t tell the media that your new first round pick was the consolation prize.
- DeCastro is more athletic, but is a guard only. Zeitler is less athletic, but is more versatile since he could also play center. And the Bengals need a backup center.
Nick Perry. I’m skittish about USC players. The Bengals have been torched a few times recently by USC guys who underwhelmed: Palmer… Rivers… Maualuga…
The guys they did take:
Dre Kirkpatrick. I am still a little unsure about this pick. (Although the fact that ESPN-blowhard Colin Cowherd hammered him makes me like him a little more.) I love that he is a hard hitter, plays well in zone coverage and has a great nose for defending against the run. But the term “questionable ball skills” makes me concerned, as he sounds likely to give a play or two per game like Leon Hall.
More than that, he’s too “prime time” for my liking. If he morphs into a mini-diva, we will regret this pick. If he learns skills, work ethic and humility from the plethora of former first rounders in his position group, he could turn into a guy we like a lot. Marvin Lewis, Mike Zimmer and Hue Jackson will all have to keep him under their thumbs until he proves himself as someone who will carry himself like a pro.
Kevin Zeitler. I lost faith in Paul Alexander’s opinion well before this draft, so I could care less what he says. But when Dave Lapham said on 700WLW last night that he graded Zeitler above DeCastro, he got my attention.
Now that DeCastro is a Steeler, he and Zeitler will always be linked in our minds. No matter how they compare over their careers, I think Zeitler will be a solid contributor for the Bengals for a long time. He is smart, strong, aware and tough. The Bengals have not had much success running right the last few years. That should change.
Another double-scoop tonight…
By trading with NE, the Bengals have 2 picks in the third round, making 3 selections tonight. The third round can be very good, yielding players like Jordan Shipley, Michael Johnson, Pat Sims, and Chris Henry over the past decade. The Bengals have hit on about 50% of their third round picks over that time, so they should snag at least 2 more contributors tonight.
(I would love to see the Bengals package picks to move up or to add a fourth Day 2 pick. The fewer Day 3 picks, the better. Draft for depth. Rebuilding teams need quantity; good teams need fewer, quality takes.)
Don’t be surprised if the Bengals take a WR in the second round (possibly making good on an embarrassing premature phone call last night). Three of the most productive WRs in franchise history — Cris Collinsworth, Carl Pickens and Chad Johnson — were all second rounders. Perhaps Stephen Hill or Mohamed Sanu will be the third Bengal added in this draft.
In the third round, I would not be surprised if the Bengals to take RB Isaiah Pead as well as a defensive lineman.