2012 NFL Offseason Power Rankings: Bengals Climb The Ladder Thanks To A Great Draft

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)

Over a month ago, ESPN released their offseason power rankings for NFL squads and many Bengals fans were surprised that the team was ranked at No.19 on the list. Coming off of a playoff appearance with young players getting another year and full offseason with their coaches and teammates made one think that they'll be a better squad in 2012 than they were last season. Throw in a couple of quality free agents and the roster seem improved. It appeared that a slow start to free agency without any "splashy" names and a more difficult schedule led the list-makers to show a Bengals tumble.

ESPN re-released a new power rankings list, showing where teams rose or fell based on more free agency moves and last weekend's draft. It offers a pleasant surprise for the Bengals.

They jumped up three spots on the list from No.19 to No.16. A simple synopsis given by an ESPN blogger is as follows:

A good draft should keep the young Bengals competitive. (Walker)

Before you kick and scream "that's it?!", keep in mind that this jump of three spots is the second highest of any NFL team on the list, behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Only one AFC North squad is ranked below the Bengals and that's the Cleveland Browns at No.30.

Jamison Hensley, ESPN's AFC North blogger, makes some interesting notes about this list. For instance, no AFC North team fell in the rankings (not that the Browns had that far to fall) and three teams rose in the rankings. Baltimore cracked the top-five and sits the highest of any team in the division at No.4 and Pittsburgh eked into the top-ten, placed at No.8.

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