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2012 NFL Draft: Instant Impact Prospects

March 7, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler works out for the NFL scouts during pro day at the McClain Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE
March 7, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler works out for the NFL scouts during pro day at the McClain Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

Wes Bunting, from the National Football Post, has provided a list of players that he believes can contribute immediately. About six of the eleven players mentioned have been linked to the Bengals in recent mock drafts.

It is unlikely that Alabama running back Trent Richardson will slip all the way to pick 17. In fact, many are expecting the Cleveland Browns to select Richardson with the fourth overall pick. If Richardson somehow begins to fall, the Bengals do have the ammo to trade up if they should choose. Bunting says of Richardson:

"The best running back prospect I've seen since Adrian Peterson. His running style might limit his shell life a bit in the NFL. However, he's the kind of back you can ride like a rented mule from day one and should become one of the NFL's top runners early on."

Baylor receiver Kendall Wright has often been mocked to the Bengals at 17 or 21. He would pair up nicely with A.J. Green. Wright would likely draw his good share of single coverage, something he could take advantage of with his speed. Bunting writes about Kendall Wright:

"In the same mold as a number of Pittsburgh Steelers receivers (Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders) and can be effective both inside and out making plays down the field at the next level."

Georgia's Cordy Glenn can play left tackle and offensive guard in the NFL. Many are torn on which position he would succeed with in the NFL. If the Bengals draft Glenn, he would likely take over at right guard. Bunting says of Glenn:

"Had had some struggles in space as a tackle prospect, but in tighter areas where he can get his hands on linemen quickly as a guard he showcases the ability to dominate. Looks like a starting caliber OG early in his NFL career."

Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro has been high on Bengal fans wishlist since December. DeCastro is known as a great pulling guard, with the ability to instantly improve the running game. The Bengals struggled running the ball up the middle last season. That is something DeCastro could certainly improve. Bunting has high praise for DeCastro:

"The best offensive line prospect I've evaluated since Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. He showcases the ability to get a push in-line and is a dominant move player as well. He's fluid/natural in pass protection and with a little more power in his base he's got the skill set to become on of the leagues best guards early in his NFL career."

Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler is another guard that the Bengals have been linked to. Zeitler could be taken late in the first round. He would be a likely target if the Bengals trade down from 17 or 21. Zeitler is known for having great intangibles as well. Bunting writes that Zeitler has a chance to be a starter early on:

"A tough, strong in-line guy who you can run behind and also has some coordination on the move. Not as effective in the pass game, but can mature into an average NFL pass blocker if he learns to get off the ball more consistently. Looks like a gritty type starter early on in his NFL career to me."

Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has probably been the most "mocked" player to the Bengals. He is a viable candidate with the 17th and the 21st pick. The Bengals have signed a good amount of depth at corner this off-season. They seem to be preparing for a case in which Leon Hall starts the season on the PUP list. If the Bengals drafted Kirkpatrick or an other corner in the draft, they would likely be nothing more than a special team player at the beginning of the season. Bunting speaks highly of Kirkpatrick:

"Will be an ideal zone corner at the next level because of his size, instincts and physicality. However, he can also press off the line and consistently re-route receivers. Isn't a dynamic quick-twitch athlete, but showcases good balance, can keep his feet under him and looks like a "plus" caliber starting cornerback in the NFL. Reminds me some of Chargers cornerback Quinton Jammer physically."

The draft is less than two weeks away. It probably would not be a stretch to say that Bengal fans have not been this excited for a draft in ages.