The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Kevin Zeitler with the No. 27 overall pick in the NFL Draft, making him the first Badger taken this year.
After already adding a difference maker in cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the No. 17 pick, the Bengals made another move towards solidifying their offensive line in acquiring Zeitler. In Zeitler, the Bengals add a strong, powerful offensive lineman who is a force in the trenches (he had 32 bench press reps at the NFL combine).
Zeitler will certainly have the opportunity to make an impact early in Cincinnati. Todd McShay of ESPN believes the former Wisconsin guard will make a push for a starting job with the Bengals this fall.
The toughness of last season's first-team All-Big Ten guard cannot be questioned either. He started every game at right guard for Wisconsin in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, totaling an impressive 40 consecutive starts. Some may think part of his success is a product of Wisconsin's massive offensive line, but recent history speaks for itself with the success of former Badger lineman — including Joe Thomas, Gabe Carimi, John Mofit and Bill Nagy — at the next level.
This year's draft did not include many highly touted offensive guards. It took until the Pittsburgh's selection of David DeCastro at No. 24 for a guard to be taken, who besides Zeitler, was the only other guard selected Thursday evening.
The Bengals had other options at the guard position besides Zeitler as well. They passed up taking DeCastro — regarded by most as the best guard in the draft — when they traded out of the No. 21 pick, and had been linked to possibly taking Georgia offensive tackle Cordy Glenn.
Despite passing up on DeCastro, Zeitler should be a solid fit for the Bengals. He is not a risky pick in any way, and although he may not have a ton of upside, he will at least provide quarterback Andy Dalton with stability at the guard position.
For more on Zeitler, here's an ESPN.com scouting report.
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