Bengals’ Second Day Makes First Look First-Rate

This is the problem with making immediate judgments. You don’t have the benefit of time and reflection.

Last night, I panned the Cincinnati Bengals’ performance in the first round of the NFL Draft. I felt trading back to 27 from 21, thereby allowing Pittsburgh to take Stanford G David DeCastro and then settling for Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler was a huge misplay. Moreover, while I thought picking Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick was a good decision, I thought they should have waited to get him until 21 instead of taking him at 17.

But that was before I saw what happened tonight. If there were no rounds after last night, my opinion might have been right. But tonight’s second and third rounds vindicated what the Bengals did in the first.

Very early in the second round there was a run on offensiive lineman. Starting with Cleveland with the fifth pick in the second, five o-linemen went in the next eight picks. With DeCastro off the board last night, I wanted the Bengals to at least use the 27th pick on Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill, whom I knew would be gone before the Bengals picked again with the 53rd selection. Instead, they took Zeitler, infuriating me.

But that turned out to be wise. Cincinnati expects Zeitler to step in and start at right guard immediately. That was a hole that really needed filling, so it’s already a win. And the run on o-line early in the second meant Cincinnati could not have gotten a player nearly as good Zeitler if they’d waited.

That cost them Stephen Hill. But miraculously Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu fell to the Bengals at 83 in the third round. He’s a guy that probably should have been drafted ahead of where he was.

And Hill being off the board freed Cincinnati up to take Penn State DT Devon Still — the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season — in the second round. With the departures of Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene in free agency, the Bengals needed to get a D-lineman. The best player in a tough conference sounds alright to me.

And let’s go back to the Dre Kirkpatrick pick. Cincinnati really coveted him. He was the last of what they considered to be three CB’s with first-round grades. When South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore went off the board, the coaching staff started to sweat in the Cincinnati war room. They feared he would be gone before they were on the clock at 17. When he was there, they were taking no chances someone would nab him before 21.

That makes it a good pick. He was the guy they wanted. They didn’t screw around. They made sure they got him instead of gambling. Smart.

But there is still the question of whether the trade with the Patriots was a good one. It cost them David DeCastro. That means it comes down to whether that extra player (pick #93) was worth it.

Cincinnati selected Clemson DT Brandon Thompson. Once again, they addressed the situation on the offensive line. The knock on the guy is that he isn’t much of a pass rusher. However, he’s an incredibly disruptive force in the running game, and the Bengals use an eight-man rotation on d-line. In a division that features Ray Rice and now Trent Richardson, Thompson seems like a good pick, especially for first down.

So 24 hours later, my opinion of the Bengals’ first round is much different, and I have pretty high regard for what they did on the draft’s second night. So far, Cincinnati apppears to be having a very good draft.

It just goes to show you. Time and reflection are valuable tools.

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