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Bengals sign Dre Kirkpatrick

The Bengals today signed CB Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama, their first selection (17th overall) in the 2012 draft.

“It’s great for the club and great for Dre to have him signed this early,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “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.”

A multiple first-team 2011 All-America selection, Kirkpatrick last year helped lead Alabama to its second BCS national championship in his three years at the school. He proved himself throughout his career as a confident defender who can physically outperform receivers and play tough against the run.

“Dre was the tallest (6-2) 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,” said Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. “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.”

Kirkpatrick’s signing is the earliest by a top Bengals draft pick since 2003, when Cincinnati sealed a deal on April 24 with QB Carson Palmer, the top overall selection in that draft.

“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 Bengals have now signed six of the team’s 10 choices from the draft. Also signed are DT Devon Still of Penn State (second round), TE Orson Charles of Georgia (fourth), CB Shaun Prater of Iowa (fifth), WR Marvin Jones of California (fifth) and S George Iloka of Boise State (fifth).

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