NFL Draft 2012: Grading The Bengals Draft Class

Apr 27, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals first round draft picks Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Zeitler with head coach Marvin Lewis hold up their jerseys during the press conference at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Dre Kirkpatrick: CB, Alabama, 21st, Round One
We always knew the Bengals wanted to draft a CB in round one. When two corners were drafted top ten, Kirkpatrick became the best available at pick 17.
Why I liked this pick: Kirkpatrick's physical play is infectious and having him on the field only amps-up the intensity. The Bengals needed more CBs for 2013 and drafting one early in 2012 was a huge need.
Why I didn't like the pick: Kirkpatrick's ball skills and man-to-man abilities leave something to be desired. I thought he'd be best in a press-zone scheme in the NFL. The Bengals, under Zimmer, have been primarily a man-coverage team.
Value: Kirkpatrick was the 15th overall player on my board and was the 17th overall pick. (+2)
Grade: B+

Kevin Zeitler - OG - Wisconsin - 27th pick, Round One
Arguably the biggest need heading into the offseason was at the guard position. The Bengals grab a plug-and-play guard from Wisconsin with their 2nd pick in round one after trading down with the Patriots.
Why I liked the pick: I loved Zeitler on tape. He's a mauling guard that can move and locate in space. He needs pass protection work, mainly with his hands and punch, but he's aware of his flaws and should only get better. He's a day one starter.
Why I didn't like this pick: Zeitler and David DeCastro will now be forever linked. The Bengals passed up the consensus best interior lineman in the draft in favor of trading back to pick 27. To make it worse, the Steelers drafted the player everybody wanted. DeCastro is a great fit for the Steelers and that worries me.
Value: Zeitler was the 33rd player on my board and my 2nd ranked true guard. He was selected at pick 27. (-6)
Grade: B

Devon Still: DT, Penn State, 21st pick, Round Two (53)
When everybody expected a RB or WR in round 2, the Bengals set the tone of the draft by selecting the best overall player on their board.

Why I liked this pick: Devon Still was my best remaining prospect and he presents a future upgrade at the DT position. Still is huge, athletic and very smart. He is physically superior to Domata Peko and shouldn't be long before Still is a defensive leader on this team.
Why I didn't like this pick: I didn't expect a DT pick so high. Devon Still has motor questions so they've added another D-lineman that needs a fire lit under him.
Value: Still was my 24th ranked player and was drafted at pick 53. (+29)
Grade: A-

Mohamed Sanu: WR, Rutgers, 20th pick, Round Three (83)
After Mohamed Sanu was prank called in round one, it must've been destiny that he'd still be available in the third round.
Why I liked this pick: Sanu is a tough, physical WR who makes a living on the middle of the field. He has good hands and can make the tough catches. Sanu is at best when he can read coverages, sit down and exploit zone defenses. Sanu seems like a great teammate and a very determined individual. He reminds me of T.J. Houshmanzadeh on the field.
Why I didn't like the pick: Sanu was at best in the slot at Rutgers. He isn't really a burner and looks pretty average when lined up outside. Does Sanu take snaps away from Shipley in the slot? Can he be as effective in an outside WR role?
Value: Sanu was my 62nd overall prospect and was drafted with the 83rd pick. (+21)
Grade: A-

Brandon Thompson: DT, Clemson, 31st pick, Round Three (93)
This was the DeCastro/Patriots pick. The Bengals again follow their BPA plan with the selection of Thompson.
What I liked about the pick: Thompson has a lot of Geno Atkins to him. At Clemson, he was always in the backfield and being a defensive disruption. He's superb against the run and plays with a high motor. He needs to play lower but if he does, watch out.
Why I didn't like this pick: Another DT? That was my question. Thompson was their BPA and represents an upgrade from Pat Sims but who gets cut from the current roster?
Value: Thompson was 58th on my board with a 2nd round grade. He was picked 93rd overall. (+35).
Grade: B+

Orson Charles: H/TE, Georgia, 21st pick, Round Four (116)
Why I liked this pick: Charles is a blast to watch on tape. He's athletic, strong and is a former WR. I thought the Bengals should draft a move-TE to create mismatches in the passing game. Charles represents just that and he'll quickly become one of your favorite players to watch.
Why I didn't like this pick: Charles was coming off of a poor workout and DUI, so his stock was taking a hit. When the Bengals drafted him, we got the expected 'same old Bengals' routine. Other than that, I have no complaints.
Value: Charles was number 61 on my draft board. I thought he'd be a solid 3rd round pick. He wasn't taken until pick 116. (+55)
Grade: A

Shaun Prater: CB, Iowa, 21st pick, Round Five (156)
Bengals strayed a little from the consensus BPA to select a player who'll have an uphill battle to make the final roster.
Why I liked this pick: Prater is on the smaller side but he's a solid athlete and seems to understand the game. He's never to far beaten but never locking down a WR. He should be a good special teams player.
Why I don't like the pick: I definitely had higher players on my board. Prater has an uphill battle to make the roster. He'll have to become a key special teams player and at the very least, I hope he makes the practice squad to be stashed for 2013.
Value: Prater was 129th on my board with a 4th round grade. He was picked 156th overall. (+27)
Grade: C+

Marvin Jones: WR, California, 31st pick, Round Five (166)
Cincinnati goes back to their BPA strategy and selects one of my favorite prospects from this draft class with the Ochocinco pick.
Why I liked this pick: Besides being the BPA, Marvin Jones is a very promising prospect. He's very quick, agile and has a huge catch radius. Jones works the sideline and makes incredible catches look routine. I would've taken him in the 2nd round. Last year, Raiders WR Denarius Moore slipped into the 5th round also. They're very comparable players.
Why I didn't like the pick: I can already see it. Marvin Jones becomes our Anthony Collins and Mohamed Sanu is the Andre Smith at the WR position. Will Jones, who I think is a better prospect, be able to beat out the higher drafted player?
Value: I have mocked Jones to the Bengals in round 2 before. He's number 48 on my board and my 6th best WR in the draft. He wasn't taken until pick 166. (+118)
Grade: A+

George Iloka - S - Boise State - 32nd pick, Round Five (167)
They finally had the opportunity to address the safety position and this pick reminded me of a selection from last year's draft. This was the Keith Rivers pick.
Why I liked this pick: Again, another BPA choice. Iloka had mostly 3rd round grades and the Bengals were able to get him with one of the last 5th round picks. He's huge but lean and aggressive. Iloka played FS but he's also played CB for Boise at times. He's a wild card on defense.
Why I didn't like this pick: At some point during the draft, you reach a spot where no safety you can draft will be a clear upgrade from Taylor Mays, Robert Sands and Jeromy Miles. This is that exact scenario. Isn't Iloka just another Robert Sands? I liked Iloka much more than I did Sands last year. Even so, is it an upgrade?
Value: Iloka was 83rd overall on my board and taking him at pick 167 is the definition of value. (+84)
Grade: B

Daniel "Boom" Herron: RB, Ohio State, Pick 21, Round Six (193)
Finally the Bengals draft a RB but did they wait too long to get a player that's an upgrade?
Why I liked this pick: Herron runs tough and I remember him showing good pass protection at the Senior Bowl. He should make a nice backup or 3rd down back in the NFL.
Why I didn't like this pick: Herron doesn't provide much of an upgrade to the current RB group. He may provide some 3rd down options but -- 'Is Dan Herron any better than Brian Leonard?' -- that's only a partial joke. He'll have a tough time making this roster unless somebody gets hurt.
Value: I had Herron as a 6th round pick and 189th on my board. He was drafted at pick 193. (+4)
Grade: C

Overall this was a very impressive draft on paper for the Bengals. Every need, and some, were addressed with good value. They've become one of the deepest and most talented teams in the NFL with this draft. The window of opportunity was already open, now that window looks like meteor blew a hole in the side of your house. There's no reason why this team shouldn't have Super Bowl aspirations after three straight stellar drafts.

Grade: A

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