Cincinnati Bengals 2012 Draft: Bengals March Forward with a Solid 1st Round

Kyle StrittholtCorrespondent IApril 27, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Dre Kirkpatrick (R) of Alabama holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #17 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a season in which they were projected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL in the 2011-2012 season.

With the tag-team duo of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, the Bengals made the season very interesting to watch. They finished the season with a 9-7 record and made it to the playoffs in the two rookies' first year.

Coming into this season, the bar has been set and expectations are higher for this team. They are playing in arguably the toughest division in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens always being among the league’s elite teams. It is time for this team to put themselves in that same category with another solid season this year.

Tonight was just a small step towards what the Bengals are trying to accomplish. In this year's NFL draft, the Bengals needed and still need to address some key areas. These areas of need have been caused by losses in free agency and exploitations realized in the team’s loss in the playoffs.

The team was plagued with injuries in the secondary last season, and when key players needed to step up, they simply didn’t. It was the secondary that was a main contributor to the loss against the Houston Texans in the first round of the playoffs this past year. The Bengals were handed their second loss to the Texans, and both times the Texans starting quarterback had been injured.

The Bengals were hoping to get Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick, and luckily for them, he was still available. The corner out of Alabama is known to have great tackling skills and ability to make hard hits on ball handlers.

He is not the best cover corner, but in a division that will have to deal with Ray Rice and now Trent Richardson as opposing running backs, this is a very solid pick. The Bengals need someone who will be a sure tackler, and is not afraid to lay a hit on someone.

The second need the Bengals were expected to address was the offensive guard position on the O-line. Bobbie Williams is a free agent now, and the team needs a solid lineman in order to keep their running game effective and protect Andy Dalton.

The Bengals had never drafted an offensive guard in the first round, but after trading back in the first round, they picked up Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin.

This is another very solid pick for the team because Zeitler comes from a run-oriented team. The Bengals coaches liked his character and he made a good enough impression for the organization to pass on Cordy Glenn in order to draft him.

The Bengals gave the 21st pick to the New England Patriots. In doing so, they gained the Patriots' third-round pick. The Bengals knew that their guy would still be there at the 27th spot, and they gained a pick with the Patriots wanting to jump up and address their defense.

This has just been the first round of the draft, and there are still two more days left. I look for the Bengals to pick up a wide receiver in Day 2 and perhaps enhance the defense.

A couple of local guys who I’d like to see them get in Day 3, if still available, are linebacker J.K Schaffer from the Cincinnati Bearcats and receiver DeVier Posey from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

So much excitement and it’s only the beginning. You should be very proud of your team if you are a Bengals fan.