As he does every year, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has done his postseason draft grades after having a full season to see how this year’s crop of rookies performed. The Bengals took a bit of hit because of the injury to cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, but still got a solid grade because of how well right guard Kevin Zeitler performed, as well as later -round picks like receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones:
Post-draft grade: A-
Summary: Before you start slamming me in the comments for a slightly lowered grade, know that by official decree of the Grading Ground Rules Committee, I can’t include the best single rookie acquisition the Bengals made: when they signed Burfict as an undrafted free agent. Burfict was a Big Board regular last season and piled up 127 tackles, the most on the Bengals and good for 15th in the NFL. As for the draft, in April I wrote, “The Bengals didn’t hit any home runs in value, but as we sat on the set we’d nod to each other with every pick. … They just crossed off needs, one pick after another.” Dre Kirkpatrick was slowed by injuries and still has work to do to become a full-time starter, but he should get there. Kevin Zeitler turned out to be a great pick, playing guard at a Pro Bowl level. Orson Charles is a keeper as depth at tight end, while Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu combined for 34 catches, and one should be the Week 1 starter in 2013. Not a stellar draft in terms of immediate value, but with Zeitler, a pretty good one. And Burfict would still be considered a steal as a UFA if this is as good as he gets, but he has a chance to do much more given his talent and instincts for the position.
New grade: B