Friday, May 18, 2012
First AFC North first-round pick signs
By Jamison Hensley
The Cincinnati Bengals have the most remaining unsigned draft picks in the division, but they became the first AFC North team to sign its first-round pick.
The Bengals announced they have reached a deal with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the 17th overall pick in the draft. He agreed to a four-year deal worth $8.6 million with $7.84 million of that fully guaranteed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Kirkpatrick’s signing is the earliest by a top Bengals draft pick since 2003, when Cincinnati sealed a deal on April 24 with quarterback Carson Palmer, the top overall selection in that draft.
“It’s great for the club and great for Dre to have him signed this early,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “Contracts can be a distraction for young guys drafted high, but now he can put all that behind him and focus on making himself better and making us a better team.”
Kirkpatrick could make an immediate impact this season for the Bengals. He could fill in for Leon Hall, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury, or he could beat out veteran Nate Clements.
“Dre was the tallest (6 feet 2) of the top corners in the draft, and with all the big receivers in the league right now, we see that as an extra advantage for us,” Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. “He does a great job at the line of scrimmage. He’s been coached hard with a national championship team, so we really like his pedigree.”
The Bengals have four draft picks who remain unsigned: guard Kevin Zeitler (first round), wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (third round), defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (third round) and running back Dan “Boom” Herron (sixth round).
“Like Coach [Lewis] says, it’s just great to have this part done,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m happy to officially be a Bengal, and I’m going to be the best player I can be for the team and our fans.”
The Ravens have signed their entire draft class, while the Steelers and Browns have two picks each who are unsigned.