Beware the Cincinnati Bengals after this NFL draft

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A lot of fans and analysts expected the Cincinnati Bengals to take a step back after their surprising 2011 campaign and subsequent playoff flameout. The events of draft weekend should make them think again.

Winners, losers from Day 2
Plenty of talent still remained as teams kicked off the second day of drafting. Chad Reuter recaps who made out like bandits and who really whiffed. More ...

It's hard not to love what the Bengals have done in this draft. (It doesn't hurt when you have five picks in the first three rounds).

They drafted a rock-solid cornerback, Dre Kirkpatrick, who fills a huge need and will start on Day 1. They traded down and picked up a plug-and-play guard in Kevin Zeitler.

Defensive tackles Devon Still (No. 53) and Brandon Thompson (No. 93) both can be added to the Bengals' deep defensive line group. Coordinator Mike Zimmer does a great job rotating linemen and developing them. Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins are all similar players to Still in that they were big names who fell on draft day before the Bengals picked them. Zimmer will coach them up.

Owner/general manager Mike Brown also hasn't ignored giving quarterback Andy Dalton help. Mohamed Sanu is an intelligent receiver to add to the mix, and fourth-round tight end Orson Charles was a steal. Charles played with A.J. Green in college and ideally can be the Aaron Hernandez to Jermaine Gresham's Rob Gronkowski.

This is the draft the Carson Palmer trade wrought. (The Bengals also own the Raiders' 2013 second-round pick, unless Oakland makes the AFC Championship Game next season). That Palmer trade is another example of the smart decisions the Bengals' front office has made of late.

Green and Dalton are only going to improve in their second year in the league. The Bengals have two excellent coordinators in Zimmer and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

This is a team built to last.

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