It took twenty-seven picks, but the Badgers got another offensive lineman drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night as Kevin Zeitler was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the 2nd of the Bengals first round picks after they went for Dre Kirkpatrick with the No. 17 overall pick.
Proving the draft can be a funny business Kevin Zeitler had his big Draft party planned for tomorrow night according to this article by Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal. He was thinking he would be drafted in the 2nd round. Instead he ended up with just 16 people around when he did get selected by the Bengals.
Zeitler’s pick made it two straight years with a Badger offensive lineman in the first round and just the fifth lineman selected in the first round since Barry Alvarez took over this program. He also became the 3rd such pick since Bret Bielema took over at coach, joining Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi as first round offensive line selections under Bielema.
That’s all well and good for the Badger program, but what was being said over in Cincinnati about Zeitler’s selection?
Some wondered if Cincinnati’s signing of two guards in the free agent market would affect Zeitler’s ability to contribute right away, but that appears not to be the case.
“We drafted them to play and that’s what we expect them to do,” said Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis in reference to Zeitler and Kirkpatrick.
Bengals Offensive Line coach Paul Alexander went even a step further when asked if Zeitler would start: “That’s the definition of a first-round pick… Every one I’ve had has.”
“He’s fun to watch on tape, he’s one of the guys when you put the tape on he stands out.” said Lewis when asked what he liked about Zeitler.
He continued saying: “He’s a versitale guy, can backup at center – play guard. He’s done a great job in gap blocking, pulling.”
In the first day press conference position coach Jay Alexander got down to the nuts and bolts of picking Zeitler and had some interesting praise for him.
“I’ve liked him since the first time I saw him, so did our scouts,” said O-Line coach Jay Alexander. ”I don’t think we’ve had a guy quite like this, he’s unique in a lot of ways.”
In a funny moment Alexander played a little with Zeitler saying: “The only player he can’t block apparently is [Bengals assistant] Jay Haye’s son.” That would be Badgers redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jessie Hayes.
Overall it’s clear that the Bengals expect him to come in and compete at the very least for the starting job at right guard, but they won’t push him if he’s not ready as there is depth at the position as well.
Zeitler will join former Badgers Chris Pressley (FB) and Nick Hayden (DT) on the Bengals, so he won’t be a lonely Badger on the roster in his rookie campaign in the NFL.