After a solid 2011 NFL draft, netting A.J. Green and Andy Dalton the Cincinnati Bengals have been quietly achieving the results their fans have craved for years.
Once regarded as the most unsuccessful team in NFL history (a title now held by Cleveland) the Bengals have been resurrected like a phoenix from the ashes.
The Bengals' resurrection has been something that has been built off great drafts over a three-year span.
In 2011, the Bengals acquired A.J. Green (arguably one of the NFL's best receivers) and Andy "the Amish Rifle" Dalton, who as a second round selection has shown his class as an NFL passer.
The 2012 draft class brought potential shutdown corner Dre Kirkpatrick and starting offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler. Both of these players have made immediate impact upon the Bengals' recent success.
During the 2013 NFL Draft, the Bengals were able to acquire some serious talent. Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame will come in and help the Bengals where they suffered from last season -- two TE sets. Not only is Eifert a good catcher; he was arguably one of the better pass and run protecting tight ends as well.
Round two saw some more key additions, like "The Eastern Block" Margus Hunt from Estonia. This massive defensive end will come in and help the Bengals fill a void on the defensive side of the ball with his 6'8" frame. Giovani Bernard has some question marks over his size and strength, but could play a good role as a rotational back.
The Bengals also managed to address one of their key defensive problems from last season in this year's draft -- safety. The drafting of Shawn Williams from Georgia is something that shouldn't go un-noticed. A third round selection for a player who can 'ball is a good thing. Not only can Williams provide a disruptive force in the secondary he is also able to come up into the box and get physical with a tailback, a do-it-all versatile defensive back.
Over the past three drafts, the Bengals have been building the foundations for the future, these new players or bricks and mortar have been making some serious noise in the NFL now that the Bengals have made back-to-back playoffs. This season many have tipped the Bengals to take the division. Not only do they have the talent on their roster to do so, they can also go deeper into the playoffs.
When you are in a division that is as tough as the AFC North, the Steelers and the Ravens are usually the first two names you think of. With the Steelers undergoing a youth movement and the Ravens losing a lot of key influential players on defense (Lewis, Reed), this is the Bengals' first real shot to take their division since 2009.
With the Bengals enjoying great success off the back of a collective team effort, it is hard to see them doing worse than last season. This is easily a season where the Bengals can march on to 11 wins. Considering they have the chance again to sweep the division, like they did in 2009.