"We feel really good about this first round. We came in here hoping to cover a couple of needs for the future in the first round. I think we've been able to do that in picking the cornerback and the interior offensive lineman.
"Dre Kirkpatrick is a guy that really played at a very high level. He's a guy with good length — great length — has played a lot of bump-and-run and a lot of different, intricate schemes that they did at Alabama. He's been a physical player and is a guy that's played on special teams. He's put in all three things — the passing game, the running game, and he's contributed there on special teams. He has an opportunity to learn from some great veteran players to get him up and running as quick as we can.
"Kevin Zeitler comes out of that Wisconsin offensive line group, which as we know, has been outstanding year after year after year. The guy has versatility. We can use him to play guard and as a backup at center. He really has done a great job in the gap-blocking, zone-blocking and pulling — he's done a lot of good things on film. He's one of those guys that, when you put the tape on, he really stands out.
"We were able to slide back (trading the No. 21 pick to New England for Nos. 27 and 93). We obtained another pick and still were able choose between the same guys. We really feel where we were was good."
Beside New England, were there any other inquiries about trades?
ML: "Yeah. People were interested in moving back and forth throughout the round today. You obviously saw a lot of movement up front. Even in the later picks, there are a lot of people that are interested in moving around. Maybe this one-night format is a good thing. Everybody's fired up to do some things in the night."
How much has the rookie salary cap enabled teams to do that?
ML: "We've always had the rookie pool, so I don't think that's really mattered. That gets determined by who you pick and choose. I don't know that that affects it much."
It seems like moving down to 27 was what you wanted, because you were able to still get who you wanted:
ML: "We were able to add another pick, which gives us a chance to add another player that competes to become a backup player on this football team. That's a good thing."
With all of the veteran corners already on this roster, can you still work Kirkpatrick in?
ML: "In both players, they have opportunities. If they're good enough to start, they will. If they're in their (learning) process as they go, they'll have an opportunity to work their way into the lineup. But we drafted them to play, and I expect them both to be able to."
ML: "As soon as they're ready."
With the second pick, did you consider taking a skill guy? A receiver or running back?
ML: "We picked Kevin Zeitler."
DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH MARK CARRIER
This is your first act as a coach on this staff, and your position group gets a first-round pick. You have to be pretty happy about that, right?
MC: "Definitely. Knowing that, looking at this draft, we highlighted only a couple of corners that we would have said 'Hey (draft him),' if we had a chance to get them. Dre was high on our list. It was getting to be nut-cracking time when it was coming to the pick. We didn't know if he was going to be there for us. But he ended up being there for us, and we're excited to have him."
What do you like about Kirkpatrick?
MC: "One, where he comes from. He comes from a winning program. He played on the best team, on the best defense in college football. He has two national championships under his belt. He's from a well-respected program. There were four first-rounders from this team (Alabama) — that tells you what type of team. If there's anybody ready to make that next step, this kid obviously fits that mold."
How much about Alabama's scheme is similar to what you're going to do here in Cincinnati?
MC: "One thing we know is that they pressed (played press coverage) a lot. With Coach Zim (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer) and his scheme and what we want to do, we have a good rush group, and our objective is to give the guys up front a lot more time to get after the quarterback. You've got to put your corners on islands and do some things. They do a lot of that at Alabama. They've got guys that can get after the quarterback. But being able to get in their face and disrupt routes and timing and rhythm — that's what Alabama does, and those are a lot of the things we like to do, too."
Do you consider yourself fortunate to be able to work with so many first-round picks?
MC: "It all remains to be seen. It comes with pressure. It's all about showing up and playing. In the short time I've been around them, these guys are all good professionals. They're all very into this team and what's best for the team, taking it to the next level and being competitive about it. Dre is just going to add to that."
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH PAUL ALEXANDER
What was it about Kevin Zeitler that convinced you to draft a guard in the first round for the first time in club history?
PA: "You'll like him. He's a tough football player. He's a great program guy, team guy. He's the type of guy if you went fishing at the lake all day, some guys after a half an hour, you want to throw them in the water. But this guy is more along the line that you can just sit out there all day with him. He's going to work like that in terms of football. When we went to work him out in Wisconsin, we called him and he came down and met us at the car, unlocked the doors, got all the equipment; he's a wonderful guy. He's as good a guy as there is and he's a good player. I think when you get a chance to take a guy like that, he helps your whole team, not just his spot. So we're excited. You'll like him."
You like him even before the scouting combine:
PA: "Yeah I've like him since the first time I saw him and so did our scouts. Our scouts really, really liked this kid."
When was the first time you saw him?
PA: "I saw him on film before we went to the Senior Bowl."
Did you know about him before this past season?
PA: "No I usually don't get a chance to see the guys before their senior year, typically. The only player he can't block apparently is Jay Hayes' son, who's a freshman at St. X. So we may have to draft him in a few years, I guess. I don't know."
What does he do well?
PA: "I think his greatest strength is he's productive. He's a very high grader, a very efficient player. You don't realize he's in there because you don't see a lot of error. So I think that's his greatest strength. He has enough size. He has versatility where he could play center. If he wanted to be a center he'd be a top-level center, really. We're not going to use him there; we're going to use him as a backup center because who is our backup center right now? I don't know. So he'll work at center. He'll work at guard, primarily right guard. He'll be good."
He was graded over 90 percent in 13 straight games at Wisconsin:
PA: "Did you see that at Pro Football Focus? I don't know that. I would tend to agree with that. He's a very, very efficient player."
Who does he remind you of from past Bengals offensive lineman?
PA: "I don't think we've had a guy quite like this, really. He's unique in a lot of ways. He has the toughness that (Matt) O'Dwyer had. He has the consistency that (Mike) Goff had. He's got the brains of … I think he might've scored the highest on the Wonderlic at the combine. I don't know if he did or not. I'll get the memo on that, so I won't comment on that one. He's a very smart guy."
Is he a smart guy like Rich Braham?
PA: "The smartest guy I had was Goff. They're very similar that way. He plays with the some tenacity that Nate (Livings) did. He can pull, but he can't pull as well as (Eric) Steinbach can. But he's a good puller. He has a lot of good traits of a lot of different guys we've had, really. He's kind of his own guy; I can't think of a guy that's really like him."
What are your thoughts on being picked by the Bengals?
DK: "Oh man, I just feel great. It was a great pick and I'm happy that they chose me."
How did your visit go here, and how was your meeting with Coach Zimmer and Mark Carrier?
DK: "It was great. They remind of the coaches at Alabama. Coach Zimmer reminds me of Coach Saban."
How do you think you performed last season?
DK: "I think I did great. I didn't get challenged as much as I'd like."
What's your biggest strength?
DK: "I can get the pass."
What do you think you need to work on?
DK: "Sometimes I get a little excited and I lose focus. Coach Saban and I have worked on that."
Did (the Bengals coaches) tell you about the cornerback situation when you visited?
DK: "No sir, they didn't."
How do you feel about being able to come in and learn from a host of first-round corners and safeties?
DK: "That's an advantage that I have. Some guys come in and have to play with young guys. One of my main focuses is to go in and learn. Learn the system and learn from the veterans. I'll learn a lot from those guys."
How close was Alabama's scheme to the scheme you'll play here?
DK: "They do a lot of press and zone, and those are things we do at Alabama also."
Your nickname is 'Swagga' — was that adopted or did someone give it to you?
DK: "The fans gave it to me. I mentioned it in a previous interview and they ran with it. It was something that the fans and I had going on."
What are your thoughts about being drafted by the Bengals?
KZ: "I'm ecstatic. I'm very excited to get out there tomorrow and get to work and help the team in any way I can."
Did you know you were high on their wish list?
KZ: "My agent talked to the O-line coach (Paul Alexander) after he worked me out, and told me that he liked me. I didn't know exactly what that meant, but it turned out to be pretty good, and I'm very excited."
What do you know about the Bengals?
KZ: "I know they got to the playoffs last year with Andy Dalton at quarterback and A.J. Green at receiver, and (that) they were effective last year. That's really all I know. I have a lot to learn."
Do you do much fishing?
KZ: "I do some fishing. Not much lately. I never had much of a chance to fish while I was in college."
What were your grades like in high school and college?
KZ: "My parents always pushed me to do well in school. In high school, I graduated in the top 20 with a 3.9 GPA. And in college, I had just over a 3.0."
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said you could play backup center. How much center have you played?
KZ: "I've played some. I was trained as a center when I first arrived at Wisconsin, but when I took over the right guard spot, I stayed there. I was reintroduced to it at the Senior Bowl. I've worked at center since then. I snapped with Brandon Weeden at API (Athletic Performance Inc.), and I was snapping with some of the quarterbacks at Wisconsin when I got back here."
You guys have a reputation as a grinding team that runs well. Did you live up to that last year?
KZ: "I think so. We've had some of the top rushing statistics in the country. It shows that we're doing the right things, and NFL teams seem to like it."
Do you pride yourself in the running game?
KZ: "Yes. Run blocking is always fun. It's a 'must win' mentality, and we have to get ball movement no matter what."
Is that part of the culture up there?
KZ: "Yes. Wisconsin has always been known for running the ball — ever since (former Wisconsin head coach and current AD) Barry Alvarez took over — and we have such tradition on O-line. We want to keep it going and never look back."