The following article by Pat Kirwan on CBSsports.com argues that by putting together 3 consecutive good drafts in which they've drafted NFL starters, they are building a team that can seriously compete for a championship:
That leads me to the Cincinnati Bengals, who had the best draft in 2012 -- if the criteria is a playoff team that also drafted three 2012 opening day starters in a league where a team is lucky to find one. Playoff teams from the previous year -- minus the team I am about to mention -- will average under one rookie starter on opening day. That's what makes the Bengals' draft after a 9-7 season and a playoff spot last year the best in the league.
Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler and Mohammed Sanu should all crack the starting lineup. When you look back at 2011 with AJ Green and Andy Dalton, as well as 2010 with Jermaine Gresham, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, it's obvious the Bengals are putting back-to-back-to-back good drafts together. The Bengals' run on good drafts is starting to remind me just a little of the 1980s, when the Buffalo Bills drafted Bruce Smith and Andre Reed in 1985, then Jim Kelly came in 1986 followed by Cornelius Bennett in '87 and Thurman Thomas in '88.
An old mentor of mine, Ron Ney, who scouted for us at the Jets after being a personnel director for the Chargers, always said, "Put three good drafts together and you will build a championship team, but most teams just can't do it with all the changes in coaching and front office."
The Bengals don't change much at the top of the organization, and Marvin Lewis is entering his 10th season as the head coach. It sure looks like a third good draft in a row, and maybe Ron Ney was right about the formula for a championship team.
Projected starters from the last 3 drafts:
QB - A Dalton (2011)
WR1 -AJ Green (2011)
WR2 - M Sanu (2012)
WR3 - J Shipley (2010)
TE - J Gresham (2010)
RG - K Zeilter (2012)
DT - G Atkins (2010)
DE - C Dunlap (2010)
CB - D Kirkpatrick (2012)
And there are guys like D Still & B Thompson who may not start, but should be in heavy rotation usage, plus backup LB's like Moch & Muckelroy who should see action if healthy.