CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 11: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass while defended by Johnathan Joseph #26 of the Houston Texans during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
There is a great disturbance in the force.
But the Cincy Kitties don't usually put together playoff-caliber teams two years in a row. This year looks to change that. And it could continue for a spell after that thanks in part to a phenomenal 2012 draft and a team making all the right moves recently.
They needed a top-flight corner to play opposite CB Leon Hall. Check. First-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick can be an immediate starter. They needed some help along the offensive line. Check. First-round pick Kevin Zeitler could very well find himself among the best at the position. A second wide receiver alongside A.J. Green would be nice. Check. Mohamad Sanu somehow falls to them in the third round.
Third round DT Devon Still gives them another versatile front seven player for a team with an outstanding front seven.
Even add in TE Orson Charles, a value pick in the fourth round to possibly end up playing alongside TE Jermaine Gresham (one of the most underrated players in the NFL), this has all the makings of being the Bengals best draft ever.
That may not say much top to bottom, but it shouldn't detract from the talent they acquired. Not all of them will pan out - or at least that's what the rest of the AFC North hopes - but they're excellent additions to a team that finished with nine wins last year.
WR Jerome Simpson looked to finally be emerging as a decent player in the league, but legal run-ins will cost him three games this season. When he returns, he'll be in Minnesota. WR Andre Caldwell left for Denver, leaving the Bengals receiving corps (which had underproduced anyway) relatively thin. Sanu is one of a few guys the Bengals will look to replace him, and it's so hit-or-miss with rookie receivers, it may be an issue.
As of now, RB Cedric Benson is still unsigned, and losing LG Nate Livings won't hurt as soon as Zeitler is acclimated to the NFL. DE Jonathan Fanene was a decent depth player, but with as stacked as their defensive line is, he won't be missed much.