I was very pleased with how the Bengals attacked the draft, rarely passing on the best value on the board. Dre’ Kirkpatrick will thrive under Mike Zimmer amd may even see time at safety this year if Leon Hall is healthy and Terrence Newman and Nate Clements still have enough left in the tank to play at a descent level.
Devon Still and Brandon Thompson provide an immediate upgrade to their interior run defense, something that cost them against the Ravens and Texans at the end of last season when they were consistently bludgeoned up the middle. Still and Thompson will be used on run-defense downs, while Geno Atkins and Domata Peko will be played heavily on passing downs. This rotation will keep all 4 of them fresh and in the opponents backfield for 4 whole quarters.
The Bengals addressed every need other than the linebacker position. The team is clearly sold on a rotation of Manny Lawson, Thomas Howard, Dontay Moch, and Ray Maualuga and Roderick Muckelroy on the inside. The team did nab Vontaze Burfict as an undrafted free agent, but its hard to expect him to contribute on anything other than special teams his rookie year.
I loved the Mohamed Sanu pick. Many experts had him drafted in the second-round range, but he fell to the Bengals at the end of the third-round. He should be a lock to be in the top-4 WR rotation this year, and may be the opening day #2 WR starter next to A.J. Green.
Kevin Zeitler was the injection of life that the run game needed after having one of the worst rushing offenses last year. He was the best run-blocking guard in the draft, and will help provide balance to this offense that relied heavily on the pass last year.
Dan Herron, Shawn Prater, and George Iloka were also quality pickups, who after a year of developing could be solid contributors in the future, but will likely contribute on special teams or the practice squad this year. Oloka has solid potential, but safeties coached under Mike Zimmer typically take a year or two to develop before they become heavy contributors.
My Grade: A