The Bengals 2011 draft was universally lauded by pundits and outside of the knee injury sidelining first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, the early reviews are in line with draft analysis.

The top four picks are expected to make contributions but all eyes are still on Kirkpatrick's knee. Any evaluations of this class won't be complete until his status is clear. Even beyond the top three picks, fifth-rounder Marvin Jones and third-rounders Mohamed Sanu and Brandon Thompson have turned heads. All early signs point to this draft being one of the best in Marvin Lewis' tenure.

Top pick: CB Dre Kirkpatrick (first round, No. 17 overall) -- A secondary filled with veterans whose top three starters average age sits at 31 made Kirkpatrick a perfect pick. He would be allowed time to develop under respected veterans like Leon Hall and Nate Clements. Only, a knee injury kept Kirkpatrick out of every camp practice. He also missed a significant portion of OTAs fighting a hamstring. Sure, the Bengals believe Kirkpatrick can be great and don't need him to start right away, but the preseason was going to be the time for him to figure out the pro game. He hopes to return this week, but how many snaps he could play are in question and could set back his contribution this year. Grade: N/A

No. 2 pick: OL Kevin Zeitler (first round, No. 27 overall) – Zeitler was drafted with the expectations of starting at right guard and that has been the case. He's shown flashes of his powerful run-blocking skills from Wisconsin, but far from perfect against elite DT Geno Atkins in practice (as few would be). He blew open a hole Thursday that would have led to a 20-plus yard run had RB Brian Leonard not fumbled after breaking into the backfield. Coaches have seen the mistakes, but complemented his ability to learn from them and his potential upgrade in physicality has been apparent. Grade B

No. 3 pick: DT Devon Still (second round, No. 53 overall) -- The 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has lived up to the hype. He's been pushing offensive linemen into the backfield with regularity during the first two preseason games and along with third-round pick Thompson developed into a dynamic rookie duo behind starters Domata Peko and Atkins. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer experienced success rotating waves of linemen during games last season despite losing veterans to free agency this offseason (Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker). “I’ve been really pleased with (Still and Thompson),” Lewis said. “They’re what we expected and better. These guys are going to be players here for a while.” Grade: A

Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates from training camp on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCIN.