Updated 2:17 a.m. on Friday, April 27
As far as we can tell, the Bengals have never taken a collegiate guard higher than they did on Thursday, when they selected Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler with the No. 27 overall pick. Another Bengals first-rounder, Brian Blados, was a regular at left guard as a rookie in 1984 after Cincinnati took him 28th, but he was a tackle at North Carolina.
The No. 27 pick took a unique journey to Cincinnati. It originally belonged to New Orleans, which dealt it to New England last April to be able to draft RB Mark Ingram. The Patriots then took the pick, plus a third-rounder, and traded it to Cincinnati for the No. 21 pick, so New England could take North Carolina DE Chandler Jones.
The trade now gives the Bengals a pair of third-round picks on Friday night to go with their second-round selection. The Bengals have built a talented young core, and they can continue to add to it. They aren’t going away in the AFC North, not after adding WR A.J. Green and QB Andy Dalton in 2011 to bolster the offense. Their defense is above-average, a group not lacking in talent.
Zeitler is expected to start at right guard. "I haven't really had anyone quite like him. He's unique,” OL coach Paul Alexander, who’s been with the club since 1995, told Bengals.com.
Veteran free-agent signees Travelle Wharton and Jacob Bell and second-year pro Clint Boling could vie for the OLG spot vacated by Nate Livings, who signed with Dallas.
Alexander has overseen some solid lines over the years, and the Bengals have done well taking O-linemen in Round One during his tenure. ORT Willie Anderson (1996) and OLT Levi Jones (2002) were solid pros. Also, while ORT Andre Smith (2009) struggled in his first two seasons, he did show some progress in 2011.
All in all, this was a solid first day of the draft for the Bengals. CB Dre Kirkpatrick helps the secondary, and Zeitler gives them a young, talented guard. They continue to try to make the moves to stay close to the lead pack of Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.