With their two first-round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft – Nos. 17 and 27, respectively – the Cincinnati Bengals chose cornerback Dre’ Kirkpatrick from Alabama and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin.
The Bengals originally had the 21st overall pick, but traded it to New England for the Patriots’ first-rounder (the Zeitler pick) and their third-rounder (No. 93 overall).
Kirkpatrick was clearly the third-best corner in the draft, behind Morris Claiborne from LSU and Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina. Claiborne was taken sixth overall by the Dallas Cowboys and Gilmore was selected with the 10th pick by the Buffalo Bills.
Kirkpatrick (6-1, 186, 4.51) started all three seasons of his collegiate career for the Crimson Tide and is an extremely-rangy player. He will likely be the team’s No. 3 corner as a rookie behind starters Nate Clements and Terence Newman. (Or the No. 4 corner if Leon Hall comes back healthy from a ruptured Achilles.) And in the future, there’s no question the Bengals project him as a long-term starter.
Clements is near the end of his career and in the final year of his contract. Hall is a huge question mark. Newman is a one-year stop-gap option. The team also signed Jason Allen as a free agent, but he’s more of a solid backup, at best.
As for Zeitler (6-4, 314), he’s a physical performer who was never believed to be on the Bengals’ radar. But as it turned out, the team had targeted him all along.
My reaction to both of these picks? Well, I was hoping for Stanford guard David DeCastro when the Bengals were on the clock with the 17th pick, but I don’t mind getting Kirkpatrick. I’m not a fan of drafting based on need, but it’s not like he was a reach. The team unquestionably needed a corner and he was definitely the best one available. So, now that I’ve had time to digest the Kirkpatrick pick, I like it.
However, the Bengals might have erred by trading the 21st pick. They could’ve had Kirkpatrick AND DeCastro, but they went in a different direction. Not sure what they were thinking there. Was a late third-round pick really worth it?
Not only did the Bengals miss out on DeCastro due to the trade, they enabled the Pittsburgh Steelers to steal him with the 24th pick. It’s not the NFL Draft without the Steelers getting lucky and having a player who was projected to go much higher fall right in their lap.
That said, I don’t hate the Zeitler pick by any means. At that point in the draft, I actually believe he was a solid pick (although it was surprising he went ahead of Cordy Glenn). But the point is that the Bengals could’ve had DeCastro, but wound up with a guard that’s not as highly regarded.
Overall, not a bad first day of the draft, but not the home run I was hoping for.
In the second round, I'd love to see the Bengals nab running back Lamar Miller from Miami. I’ll check back in tomorrow night with the second and third-round results and my thoughts.