Today wrapped up the end of the 2012 NFL Draft for the Cincinnati Bengals and it has been a great weekend for the team. From top to bottom the Bengals made great decisions and drafted players that can help them right away. It’s not a stretch to say that the Bengals may have had the best draft this year.
It starts obviously with the first round drafting Dre Kirkpatrick and enhancing the secondary. They also picked Kevin Zeitler the big offensive guard to help protect the quarterback and a solid run blocker. Both were a pressing issue for the team coming into the draft. Overall the Bengals had a balanced draft with five offensive players and five defensive.
On defense they picked three secondary players which was the down fall of this team at the end of the season last year. The team gave up Jonathan Joseph to the Houston Texans and they felt the effects of his absence. When Leon Hall went down with an injury the whole secondary seemed to collapse against Houston in the playoffs.
The second area on defense that the Bengals added depth to was the tackle position. They used two picks on defensive tackles including Devon Still and Brandon Thompson. We already have some depth with the position, but you can never have too many big guys in the middle of your defense. We now have to stop Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, and the Steelers running game. The Bengals made a great step forward in this division.
Offensively we picked some great new weapons for Andy Dalton after the departure of Jerome Simpson to the Minnesota Vikings. Mohamed Sanu is a great prospect who fell to the Bengals because of his lack of break out speed. However he led the Big East with 115 receptions last season with Rutgers. He is a great route runner, a smart football player, a physical blocker, and is very smart for his position.
In later rounds the Bengals drafted Orson Charles who is another great receiving tight end to compliment Jermaine Gresham. They also picked Marvin Jones from Cal to add to this receiving core. With the final pick they decided to take the running back Dan Herron out of Ohio State.
Dalton will have no lack of offensive weapons this season. There is no doubt that they will be a solid offense, but I think a lot are wondering if it will be as good as the 2005 season. Obviously that was a team with Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Rudi Johnson, Chris Henry, and Carson Palmer at quarterback. Does this offense have the talent to be better than a team with so many play-makers?
Carson Palmer had more expectations, but with injuries in the years he hasn’t fulfilled his potential. The Bengals ’05 team was in a great position to be a Super Bowl contender before Palmer went down after the first pass of the playoffs against the Steelers. Since then he’s never fully been the same.
Andy Dalton may not be as talented as Palmer was, but he is a proven winner. Dalton has made great decisions with the ball with a younger team. In his first season he led the Bengals to the playoffs, which is something that Palmer could do twice in his career.
The best thing about the drafted players this year is they for the most part are well character players. Herron was a part of the Ohio State scandal, and there are questions about Kirkpatrick. Other than that there aren’t any more players with multiple arrests on the roster with the release of Simpson and Cedric Benson being a free agent.
I think with the talent coming in mixed with the talent that is already there that this could be a very big season for the Cincinnati Bengals. Marvin Lewis is coming into his 10th year of coaching, and this is his team. There are no players left from the past and everyone that he and his coaches liked are on this roster. I think that this is a team that everyone in Cincinnati has been waiting for and it won’t surprise me at all if they make noise this season.
The season is still a long time away. There is a lot of excitement in the eyes of the newly drafted players, and I know the coaches feel good about the team that they now have. If the team focuses on winning like they did last season and build on the success they had last season then the sky is the limit for the Bengals.