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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Bengals draftees facing a battle

Making team's roster will be more difficult

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

Seventeen of 20 Bengals drafted under coach Marvin Lewis remain property of the team.

Draft picks from 2003 and 2004, Lewis' first two seasons with Cincinnati, also occupied 11 of the 53 active roster spots at the end of the season.

And while Lewis is looking forward to adding more players through the 2005 draft, April 23-24, he said he doubts as many picks would make this year's opening day roster.

"I think we're fine," Lewis said late last week. "I think it's harder - in our situation, we've had most of our draft picks make the team - I don't know (if) that would be the case this year.

"They get to earn their spots. And as long as we keep the system that way, where they've got to earn it or they're out of here, we'll be all right."

The Bengals have the 17th pick in the first round and also have one pick in each of the final six rounds. They had 11 picks in 2004.

As was the case last year, the Bengals might trade down from No. 17 in order to gain a pick or two.

In 2004, the Bengals traded their 17th overall pick to Denver for cornerback Deltha O'Neal and the Broncos' 24th and 117th overall picks. Then, on the first day of the draft, they dropped from No. 24 to No. 26 after trading for the Rams' 123rd overall pick.

"It wouldn't hurt us to (add picks)," Lewis said. "... But you've got to have that opportunity."

"Otherwise we're going to step up and take who we graded as the best player, and it will be a guy who's going to have an opportunity," added Lewis. "We're going to pick a guy who we know is going go somewhere on Sunday and line up and go do something."

That player, as in years past, could play any number of positions - excluding only quarterback.

Lewis said in January that quarterback and cornerback were the only positions the Bengals were unlikely to draft for in the first round, but he since has added cornerback back into the mix.

"In that particular case (quarterback and cornerback), I think we are very blessed with our situation at both of those positions," he said. "But I think, particularly at cornerback, I don't know that you can have too many."

Given the struggles of the defense against the run in each of Lewis' two seasons, logic would hint at the selection of a defensive lineman or linebacker in the first or second rounds.

Not necessarily.

"Every play," Lewis said of big runs against his defense in 2004, "the guy in the hole missed the tackle. We have to get guys who make that tackle."

The Bengals finished 26th in defensive rankings at 128.9 rushing yards allowed per game.

"No, not really," Lewis said when asked if defensive linemen, linebackers or a strong safety were the priority in the first three rounds.

"I think we're confident we keep making a better football team by picking the best player. You're not going to take a lesser player at a spot."

The Bengals will return three second- or third-year linebackers drafted under Lewis - Khalid Abdullah, Caleb Miller and Landon Johnson.

"We have some young guys who got a taste of the NFL," Lewis said of the young linebackers. "We have some older guys who know how to play and have added a lot to our football team.

"I think everybody understands we're just trying to get better in all positions."

Who could be available

The Bengals own the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft April 23-24.

This year's draft provides no clear order of the top picks.

The Bengals could go several directions, though the most logical would be for them to pick a player who could help them improve their run defense or pass rush. In no particular order, here are some players who could be available at 17 and the case for taking them:


Thomas Davis Georgia SS 6-1, 230

Profile: A solid hitter with an attitude; his strength is against the run.

Alex Barron Florida State OT 6-7, 323

Profile: The top OT available; the Bengals have played Russian roulette with the health of Willie Anderson and Levi Jones.

Heath Miller Virginia TE 6-5, 256

Profile: The Bengals lack a complete tight end, and this early-entry junior would likely be available even if the team decided to trade down a few slots in Round 1.

Travis Johnson Florida State DT 6-4, 290

Profile: Working hard to dispel fears, he was a one-year college wonder. He specializes against the run, exactly the type of player the Bengals could use.

Demarcus Ware Troy State DE-OL 6-4, 251

Profile: Small-school product is known for his great attitude, explosive pass rush and great effort.

Jammal Brown Oklahoma OT 6-6, 316

Profile: The 2004 Outland winner has good feet and long arms but needs to improve run blocking.

Erasmus James Wisconsin DE 6-4, 266

After a hip injury in 2003, he had eight sacks in 2004 and is solid against the run.

Carlos Rogers Auburn CB 6-0, 196

Profile: The 2004 Thorpe winner is an excellent cover corner, though work is needed against the run.

Mark Clayton Oklahoma WR 5-10, 193

Profile: Possibly the most skilled and NFL-ready receiver in the draft and a potential replacement for Peter Warrick should the Bengals release the five-year veteran.


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What I found interesting about the "list of players that would be available" -- included several OT. :huh:

AND the list omitted Pollack (my favorite), Marcus Spear (my fear), Channing Crowder (my question mark) and Troy Williamson.

I wonder where this list came from -- the fertile mind of the writer or "planted seeds (growing red herrings) by ML"? :lol:;)

Ahhh!!!! I love pre-draft articles. I always wonder whether or not the ideas are from the writer or the subject of the interview.

I remember some pre-draft discussion a couple of years ago where the name Levi Jones was drop into the article.

ALL this adds to the anticipation for the upcoming draft !!! :P :player: :player: :player:

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Here's what the enquirer had to say in their only pre-draft mention of Perry that I could find. Remember, at the time this was written we hadn't yet traded D****n. (sorry, i'm not sure what the obscenity rules are for this forum) ;)

A Dillon deal would increase the likelihood of the Bengals drafting a running back anywhere in the first three rounds. If they go with a running back in Round 1, there's an outside chance Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones will be available. Florida State's Greg Jones and Michigan's Chris Perry might be there in the second round.


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Here's what the enquirer had to say in their only pre-draft mention of Perry that I could find. Remember, at the time this was written we hadn't yet traded D****n. (sorry, i'm not sure what the obscenity rules are for this forum) ;)

Don't worry homie, around here he is known as Leon.

I am kinda upset, though, I can't watch the draft this year - I am getting married April 23rd. Ya think she would be pissed if I showed up a lil late? :angry::angry:

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