It’s too early too early to give the Bengals a grade on their 2012 draft, but let me say this about their work in the first round tonight:
For the first time since 1998, Cincinnati had two picks in the first round. They had no glaring needs. They could take the best player available at selections #17 and #21. It was next to impossible to mess it up.
But the Bengals found a way.
The key to this being a bad night for Bengals fans was the 21st pick. The Bengals traded back to 27 to allow the Patriots to take DE Chandler Jones. Stanford G David DeCastro was still on the board. Cincinnati’s interior line needs shoring up.
And so did the Pittsburgh Steelers’. Cincy’s archrival — one of the teams they are always looking up at — has an o-line with holes all over it. So, instead of taking the best guard in the draft, the Bengals allowed the Steelers to do that. Congratulations. We let a guy we wanted go to Pittsburgh. That guy will be getting in Carlos Dunlap’s and Geno Atkins’ way for the next 10 years instead of protecting Andy Dalton.
So when the Bengals came up on the clock at 27, whom did they choose? Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler. After the Bengals let the best guard in the draft go to Pittsburgh, they settled for the consolation prize of the third-best guard . . . when the second best guard, Cordy Glenn, was still on the board!
They also passed on Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill — a guy who can help take pressure off AJ Green — who will not be there when the Bengals pick again at 53 in the second round.
Now, Cincinnati did get a great player in Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick at 17. They needed another CB, and he is regarded as the best tackling CB in the draft. That was a good choice.
But virtually every mock draft had Kirkpatrick available at 21. So most likely the Bengals could have had DeCastro at 17 and Kirkpatrick at 21. More importantly, the Steelers wouldn’t have DeCastro.
The Bengals got the Patriots third round pick (#90) in the deal. Zeitler and the extra third round pick better be worth it.
Because this looks like a botched opportunity.