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Draft Day Memories


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Friday, April 22, 2005

Draft day memories

Kyle Larson

Punter Kyle Larson signed with the Bengals as a rookie free agent in 2004 after he went undrafted out of Nebraska. He got a chance at the job and kept it after an injury to veteran Kyle Richardson.

Larson recalls the draft experience in 2004:

"I was talking to my parents the week previous to that. I was going to relax and just see how things were going to go. Draft day comes around, and the first punter, B.J. Sander, goes. And then you start getting kind of anxious, thinking, 'I might be next. I might be next.'

"My name never came around and never came around.

"The Bengals (special teams coach Darrin Simmons) called me around the sixth round and said they were looking at me as a free agent. That's when a lot of teams were starting to call. That's when it kind of started for me.

"I really liked the Bengals coaching staff from the Senior Bowl. I had it narrowed down between here, Cleveland and Detroit. I felt more comfortable around Coach Simmons and the rest of the staff.

"It was kind of a letdown (not being drafted), because you have high expectations for yourself. I was hoping for it more at that time. But things work out in mysterious ways. This has worked out great. I've been so fortunate to be in this position to be here with this great staff."

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

I remember draft day

Langston Moore

"I remember a lot of anxiety every time the phone rang. Everybody got quiet. It was a great day. I was telling everybody from my old college, 'Just enjoy the day, because you only get one of those. You work real hard to get that day.'

"I was in Charleston, S.C., at my mom's house. My friends were over. We tried to keep it real quaint, but more and more people came over by the hour. We just got a bunch of food. I just remember watching a lot of TV and wanting to get away from everybody because it gets overwhelming after a while.

"I thought I was a late first-day guy. The draft in 2003, it was full of defensive lineman and defensive tackles. In the end, it doesn't matter where you're at in the first year. It just matters where you're at after three years.

"I told younger guys: Where you're drafted is not an indication of where you're stuck in the league. It's comprised more of later-round and free-agent guys.

"No matter how it went, it was a blessing. At the beginning of the sixth round, I had stopped watching. (Defensive line) coach Jay Hayes called me. I said, 'Who is this?' Actually, Seattle had called me early in the fourth round. Then the calls stopped. Then Jay called me, and he said, 'We're going to take you.' Then I saw my name flash across the screen."

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I remember draft day: Eric Ball

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

Eric Ball, the Bengals' director for player relations, was the team's first overall draft pick in 1989. Ball was the first of the Bengals' two second-round picks and was selected No. 35 that year from UCLA.

"I was home in Ypsilanti, Mich., just sitting there, waiting around like everybody else - wanting to know what was going to happen. I was just sitting back with my family. I had my immediate family, my cousin, my aunt, and my fiancée at the time, because I had just proposed the day before.

"I was predicted to go anywhere from the late first (round) to early second. I do recall that my agent had been talking to the Giants, and they had the 18th pick. Then the Bengals came up. They called me to tell me they were interested. It was one of those, 'We're considering you.'

"I had actually fallen asleep. After the first round had gone by, there were only 28 picks at that time. The next thing I knew, (safety) Carnell Lake, who was my (UCLA) teammate, went to Pittsburgh. Then I was right behind him.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, because you've been dreaming about it your whole life. There are a lot of expectations. You're waiting around. Then there's disappointment."

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I remember draft day: Eric Steinbach

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

Offensive lineman Eric Steinbach, a two-year starter for the Bengals at left guard, was drafted 33rd overall - the first pick of the second round - in 2003.

He recalls draft day:

"I ended up having a pretty big party set up at the ESPN Zone down in Chicago. And it was just most of my family members who lived in Chicago and all my friends, who I'd known from high school and the University of Iowa. So it was a pretty big day. I had a lot of people there.

"I was anticipating going in the first round, which everybody had me slotted. And when I say long, it was only 2½, three hours that I waited. Most guys can wait a day or two.

"But the pressure - and with everybody looking at me - after one pick, then the next pick, and the next pick, it was a good thing I had my agent sitting next to me. He said, 'Their taking a lot of defensive lineman, and maybe a team is passing you up because of medical reasons.'

"But once I was picked, I was just happy to be picked by a team. You should be excited to be picked by any team. I got on the phone with some of the Bengals coaches and media. It was great.

"But I can't complain. I try not to. It was only 15 picks later. Some guys are supposed to go in the second round, and they don't go to the sixth or seventh. That's a day. Waiting a couple of extra hours was OK; I was still having a good time."

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Draft day memories-Brian Simmons

By Mark Curnutte

Enquirer staff writer

The Bengals selected linebacker Brian Simmons with the 17th overall pick from North Carolina in the 1998 draft.

He recalls his experiences on draft day that year, which he spent at home with his family in New Bern, N.C.

Simmons received the call from then-Bengals linebackers coach Mark Duffner:

"I remember waiting what seemed like a day from the time the draft started until my name got called. It was kind of anxious.

"A lot of guys think they should go different (spots) than they go. You're supposed to go wherever they went. The main thing is, at that point, you want the opportunity to get into a (training) camp and prove that you can play.

"Coach Duffner called me at like Pick 16 and said, 'We're about to pick you.' Before he called me, at Pick 13 they picked (linebacker) Takeo (Spikes), so I didn't think I would go at 17. That was the first time I had talked to them. I was a little surprised, actually.

"... I try to enjoy it and make sure, if I have three or four more years left, that they're just as good as the previous seven."

The 2004 picks

A look at the Bengals' draft class of 2004:

1. (26 overall) Chris Perry, RB

He had only five touches in two games in an injury-plagued rookie season. The Bengals are still counting on him to rebound with a solid sophomore season as the top backup to starting tailback Rudi Johnson.

2a. (49) Keiwan Ratliff, CB

He added a spark to special teams by returning 17 punts for a 12.2-yard average. He also made five starts on defense and showed up as a strong cover corner and a sure tackler.

2b. (56) Madieu Williams, FS

The gem of the draft started 13 games at three secondary positions (corner, free and strong safety). He had 95 tackles and three interceptions, returning one 51 yards for a touchdown. He has Pro Bowl talent.

3a. (80) Caleb Miller, LB

On the smaller side, Miller struggled with injuries as a rookie. He will be better in his second season as a backup linebacker and potential star on special teams cover units.

3b. (96) Landon Johnson, LB

The other gem in the draft class, Johnson ended up playing out of position as the starter at middle linebacker. He led the defense with 133 tackles in 13 starts. He has excellent speed and could be moved to strong-side linebacker (his natural position) if the Bengals decide to release veteran Kevin Hardy for salary-cap reasons.

4a. (114) Matthias Askew, DT

Knee injuries limited him to three tackles in just five games. Coaches will push him hard in the spring and summer training camp to join the four-man tackle rotation.

4b. (117) Robert Geathers, DE

Showed flashes as a natural pass rusher, using his speed to collect 3.5 sacks and tip five passes. Like Askew, he was an early-entry junior who should be even better in his second NFL season.

4c. (123) Stacy Andrews, OT

A mammoth tackle who didn't play football until his senior year at Mississippi. Andrews was a track star in college and worked hard to refine his football technique in a developmental rookie season.

5. (149) Maurice Mann, WR

Speedy outside receiver was signed off the Bengals' practice squad by the Dolphins.

6. (183) Greg Brooks, CB

Missed the season because of injuries but will be given a shot to earn playing time this coming season.

7. (218) Casey Bramlet, QB

Spent time as the No. 2 quarterback at the end of the season because of Carson Palmer's knee injury. The Bengals like Bramlet as a development project, and he should benefit from a season in NFL Europe.

Bengals 2005 needs

The Bengals hold to the philosophy of drafting the best player available, but there are some undeniable needs as they attempt to vault into the playoffs this season for the first time since 1990.

1. Defensive tackle

The Bengals have to improve their 26th-ranked run defense. The problems started up front last season, though coach Marvin Lewis places blame for long runs on missed tackles by perimeter defenders. Though they signed unrestricted free agent Bryan Robinson as the likely starter beside John Thornton at tackle, Robinson will be 31 when the season starts. And though Langston Moore played well in his second season and could improve further, the team needs a dominant tackle.

2. Defensive end

Lewis has said the team needs to get an explosive pass rusher to put consistent pressure on quarterbacks. Right end Justin Smith, the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft, might benefit from a switch to left end, where he wouldn't have to face the other team's best offensive lineman each week. The Bengals' 37 sacks tied for eighth-best in the AFC.

3. Safety

Though Lewis doesn't like the more traditional, larger strong safety who specializes in stopping the run, don't be surprised if the team goes for one - maybe Georgia's Thomas Davis - somewhere in the draft. The Bengals terminated the contract of strong safety Rogers Beckett, who started the past two seasons when he wasn't injured.

4. Interior offensive line

Left guard Eric Steinbach provides a quality backup at left tackle, and third-year lineman Scott Kooistra should get a chance to display his mean streak on the field this season. But incumbent starting center Rich Braham has maybe one good season left, and his replacement needs to be groomed.

5. Linebacker

Lewis' actions speak louder than his words. He entertained Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter in free agency and made an offer to Jamie Sharper, who elected to sign with Seattle. The question about the health of middle linebacker Nate Webster is more pressing than the one about tailback Chris Perry's status.

Bengals 2005 picks

The picks Cincinnati has in the upcoming draft:

(Overall number in parentheses)

Round 1

No. 17

Round 2

No. 16 (48)

Round 3

No. 19 (83)

Round 4

No. 18 (119)

Round 5

No. 17 (153)

Round 6

No. 16 (190)

Round 7

No. 19 (233)

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