I really love these DRAFTMETRICS articles as they try to cut through the BS from "experts" and break things down statistically. This most recent post is team-neutral but it offers interesting insight into the Bengals ability to draft.
Using the information in the final table, you could argue that 2006 was the strongest draft overall amongst this study population. The Bengals probably had their best draft class as well that year: CB Johnathan Joseph, OT Andrew Whitworth, DE Frostee Rucker, LB Ahmed Brooks*, DT Domata Peko, OLB A.J. Nicholson, QB Reggie McNeal, FS Ethan Kilmer, WR Bennie Brazell. That's 5 out of 9 that had quality NFL careers (56%)
The following year looks to be one of the worst. That year the Bengals selected CB Leon Hall, RB Kenny Irons, S Marvin White, QB Jeff Rowe, DT Matt Toeaina, OG Dan Santucci, S Nedu Ndukwe. This group only had 1-3 quality NFL careers depending upon how you rate Toeaina who is still in the NFL and Ndukwe who had good early success. If you allow all three, that's still only a 43% success rate (14% if you only count Hall).
Looking ahead, it would seem that 2011 will be a strong class as well. Here we picked WR A.J. Green, QB Andy Dalton, OLB Dontay Moch, OG Clint Boling, FS Robert Sands, WR Ryan Whalen, CB Korey Lindsey, RB Jay Finley. Three have already demonstrated quality starter characteristics (38%). Moch could become a starter if he can stay healthy, but the rest of the group is unlikely to add to the number of games started. So interestingly, the Bengals didn't draft the same quantity as the rest of the NFL but it's hard to argue against the quality of their picks.
Last year's draft has the highest starts per player drafted (3.6) - even better than 2011 (3.4) and 2006 (3.2) in the first year - but it's dangerous in statistics to look at a single data point and extrapolate from there.
Now if we could only look at the pool of draft prospects and see into the future...