Round 1 of the 2012 NFL draft is in the books. There were lots of surprises last night, including a record amount of trades. The Bengals were among the teams that were active in that department. After selecting Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th overall pick in the draft, Bengals fans waited with bated breath between picks 18 – 20 to see if David DeCastro would still be available at pick 21. He was. Then Cincinnati did something that not many were expecting; they traded their 21st overall pick to New England. There was a synchronized chorus of uproar that bellowed throughout Bengaldom when it was announced. The guy that everyone wanted fell into Cincinnati’s laps at the 21st pick and they opted not to take him. I, myself, could not quite believe what was happening… until the dust settled.
Now that I have had time to digest what transpired, listened to statements released by the Bengals organization, and stayed up late watching tape last night, I have a different perspective on their decision to trade the 21st overall pick. Let’s look at some of the factors involved.
The Bengals knew they needed a right guard. That is no surprise. What many fans did not know was how high they were on Kevin Zeitler. Bengals sources revealed after the selection that they had DeCastro and Zeitler equally measured on their draft board. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander stated that he wanted to draft Zeitler even before the combine. Because they had them as equals on the draft board, they had a decision to make. They could stand pat at the 21st overall pick and select one of the guards, or they could trade down and select whichever one remained six picks later. They chose the latter, and with good reason. Dropping from the 21st to the 27th pick was a great move to get Zeitler, considering that Green Bay (28) and Baltimore (29) were both targeting Zeitler with their selections in the first round. In fact, the Bengals taking Zeitler at 27 was probably a driving factor for the Ravens trading out of the first round all together.