2011: What more can you say? Cincinnati drafted two of its three most important players in AJ Green and Andy Dalton, who (along with Atkins) hold the keys to this franchise the next several years. Green has become the all-world receiver the Bengals hoped that he would, while Dalton quarterbacked Cincinnati to as many playoff appearances in his two years at the helm as the Bengals had in the previous 20 years combined. Fourth round pick Clint Boling also moved into a starting role at guard this year necessitated by injury. Unfortunately, the lack of depth in this class and a few lingering questions about Dalton temper the success of 2011 just a bit, but still—can’t complain.
2012: I know Mel Kiper Jr. recently “re-graded” the Bengals draft after a year’s worth of play, but I can’t do it. One season just isn’t enough time to really know how several of these guys will pan out. The Bengals of course had two first round picks (thanks Raiders!) and used them on cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and guard Kevin Zeitler. Zeiter turned out to be a huge success while Kirkpatrick struggled with injuries and didn’t see the field much. Receivers Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones both showed flashes, but never became anything like a consistent threat for Dalton, though Sanu looked like he was on his way before a season-ending injury. As for now though, it’s too early to say how much value Cincinnati really drafted
So there you have it. If the 2012 class works out as hoped that would give Marvin and the Bengals four straight good-to-great drafts. One or two more of those could really set Cincinnati up for a sustained period of serious contention in the AFC.