NFL Draft 2012: Did the Cincinnati Bengals Do Enough to Improve?
The 2012 NFL draft is not yet a week old and experts are already chiming in with grades and analysis on which teams did a good job drafting and which ones missed the mark. Most of these experts are unanimous in their praise of the Cincinnati Bengals’ draft, with many giving the team a grade of A or higher.
But, did the Bengals do a good enough job to improve their team immediately? Are the 10 picks enough to push the team from a group that won nine games and just squeaked into the playoffs to a championship-caliber squad? Or is this the type of draft that will only pay off down the road?
While the Bengals certainly did fill some holes and got much-needed reinforcements for other positions, it’s hard to say for certain that they hit a home run.
None of the draft selections appear to be the type of player that can come in and immediately make a difference. Only one will start from day one and will be an immediate upgrade over the player he is replacing, while a few will get a chance to get on the field and make contributions. The rest will either be relegated to special teams or will be released.
The Bengals came into the draft with so many holes to fill that it was nearly impossible for them to not have a nice draft. But, considering that the team did not take a safety until the sixth round and didn't draft a defensive end or linebacker at all, it makes it hard to give their draft a slam dunk.
Below is a closer look at the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2012 draft class and their impact for the upcoming season.
How Do You Grade the Bengals' Draft?
Immediate Starter: G Kevin Zeitler
The Bengals passed on Stanford guard David DeCastro, long thought to be the best guard in draft, when they traded down and took Zeitler seven picks later.
If the Bengals' brass is to be believed, they had Zeitler and DeCastro rated as the same and were thrilled to get the player they wanted and also an additional pick.
While only time will tell if passing DeCastro was the right move, Zeitler will be an immediate upgrade at a position where the Bengals were woefully lacking.
Zeitler is a mauler who is an A-plus blocker in the run game. He will start at right guard from day one. Coupled with Andre Smith, who quietly has emerged as one of the better right tackles in the league, the Bengals’ offensive line has suddenly become one of the team’s biggest strengths.
Backups Who Could Start: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, DT Devon Still, WR Mohammad Sanu and WR Marvin Jones
Part of the reason why this draft has been so lauded is that the Bengals got a lot of value in the middle rounds.
It took years for Leon Hall to develop into a true shutdown corner, a testament to how difficult the corner position is in the NFL. Dre Kirkpatrick will be no different, and while he will get a chance to start, more than likely he will be the team’s nickel or dime back, which is almost the same thing as starting in today’s pass-happy NFL.
Devon Still could be the steal of the draft, and he should get a chance to be a part of an impressive defensive-line rotation.
Sanu and Jones both may end up starting, but while both have the positional to be good players, the fact that either may start is more of an indication of how weak the receiver position is for the team rather than their true talent.
Headed for Special Teams: DT Brandon Thompson, TE Orson Charles, CB Shaun Prater, S George Iloka and RB Dan Herron
Orson Charles is the best player in this group, and in the West Coast Offense, multiple pass-catching tight ends are always a plus. But, it’s doubtful he’ll get much playing time early.
George Iloka appears to be a project who could pay off down the road, while Thompson, Prater and Herron may have trouble even making the team at very deep positions.
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