Former NFL Safety Matt Bowen Likes The Bengals Draft

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Orson Charles #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for yards after the catch against Brandon Taylor #18 of the LSU Tigers during the first half of the 2011 SEC Conference Championship at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Go ahead and add National Football Post's Matt Bowen to the list of writers praising the Bengals draft last weekend. Bowen, a former safety in the NFL, normally waits to get excited about post-draft classes. Bowen writes that he was a fan of first round corner Dre Kirkpatrick months before the draft. He loves the 17th overall pick's size, length, and ability to play press-man. He mentions that Kirkpatrick will need some time to learn how to win in off-man coverage, but he does expect Kirkpatrick to start opposite Leon Hall on Monday Night Football against Baltimore.

Bowen does not stop the praise at Kirkpatrick, but moves on to discuss the second first round pick, Kevin Zeitler. He writes:

"Drafting an offensive guard might not bring the attention of an tackle in terms of fan fare, but Kevin Zeitler is a smart pick. Well coached out of Wisconsin, physical and will come off the ball."

Moving from the interior of the offense to the interior of the defense, Bowen is also a fan of the Devon Still and Brandon Thompson selections. He brings up the point that addressing the defensive line is important in the AFC North. This is especially important for the Bengals. They will need to stop Ray Rice and new Browns back Trent Richardson for the foreseeable future.

On players that the Bengals "stole":

"WR Mohamed Sanu brings some real size outside of the numbers and Cal’s Marvin Jones was the most developed route runner I saw back at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. And don’t forget about TE Orson Charles from Georgia (a possible matchup player when removed from the core of the formation). New targets in the passing game for QB Andy Dalton to go along with A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, etc."

Bowen also realizes that late round picks Shaun Prater and George Iloka can have value on special teams:

"Late in the draft, most teams target prospects that can play a role on special teams and provide some depth. Iowa CB Shaun Prater works hard and is extremely competitive while Boise State FS George Iloka has some range in the middle of the field. Both should earn their money covering kicks as rooks."

It is good to hear the praise coming from different sources, especially when it is a former NFL player, virtually unified in their reactions. The key to this draft, as with any, is that these players live up to their potential. Many of them are likely motivated to prove that they should have been selected earlier than they did.

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