NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama holds up a jersey as he stands on stage 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)
The Bengals, addressing positional needs while also finding value, drafted masterfully in 2012, and the experts tend to agree. Rob Rang of CBS Sports released his AFC draft grades today, and now becomes the latest to praise the Bengals efforts. He gives Cincinnati an "A", the highest grade in the AFC.
Regarding the two first round selections of the Cincinnati Bengals, Rang says the following:
The Bengals solved two of their biggest areas of concern by landing cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler in the first round. They both play with the consistency and physicality that is required in the division. As it turns out, the Bengals were just getting started with what arguably was the best draft enjoyed by any team in 2012.
Rang applauds the Bengals ability to fill needs with high value players in the round one, and goes on to praise Cincinnati's second, third, fourth, and fifth round selections as well.
Cincinnati addressed losses along the defensive line in free agency by adding Devon Still (second round) and Brandon Thompson (third), as well as three reliable pass-catchers in Rutgers' wideout Mohamed Sanu (third), Georgia tight end Orson Charles (fourth) and California's Marvin Jones (fifth) in the middle rounds -- prospects who each could filled areas of concern while also ranking among the top prospects available.
The one decision Rang takes issue with is the lack of a running back until the sixth round when Cincinnati selected Ohio State's Dan "Boom" Herron. Running back was a pre-draft need for the Bengals and many expected the position to be addressed earlier in the draft. However, the off season signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis greatly reduced the priority of that need. Rang says,
If there was anything to knock with the Bengals' effort in 2012 it might be that the team only invested their final pick -- No. 191 overall -- in a running back (Ohio State's Dan Herron) and this was perceived to be an area of concern despite the addition of free agent BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Considering the presence of Bernard Scott and the number of talented runners likely to be available as UDFAs, this might be the ideal position to still need as the draft closed.