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Will judge’s decision impact ’11 draft?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 26, 2011 – 10:43 am

A few warmup tosses to start the Tuesday before the draft, 48 hours from Carolina taking Auburn quarterback Cam Newton No. 1, so everybody says.

» The league is still in limbo the day after federal court judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout and national reports have suggested the NFL won’t lift its lockout rules until either Nelson or the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on a stay of the lockout. Reports say the players have until 9 a.m. Wednesday to respond to appeal, so it won’t be Tuesday.

If Nelson doesn’t grant a stay, the league figures to ask the Eighth Circuit for a stay. If a stay is granted the lockout could continue for a couple of months until the Appeals court rules on the case. If there isn’t a stay granted, then the NFL would be open for business but no doubt it would take time to figure out which rules to use.

» With the situation still up in the air, there were no signs of Bengals players at Paul Brown Stadium Tuesday morning. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Washington’s Lorenzo Alexander showed up but he was told he couldn’t work out and left. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery checked in but left when he was told he couldn’t use the hot tub for his surgically-repaired back.

NFL PR chief Greg Aiello sent out a statement Tuesday morning saying teams are going to observe the lockout rules until the courts make a decision.

“We are going to proceed in an orderly way that is fair to the teams and players and complies with court orders. Players are being treated with courtesy and respect at club facilities,” the statement said. “We do not believe it is appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court. Under the last set of proposals made to the NFLPA, teams wouldn’t even be into offseason programs yet. We need a few days to sort this out, as NFLPA attorney Jim Quinn indicated last night.

» The only way the labor situation impacts this draft is the belief that it could affect teams trading down and trading for 2012 draft picks. With Nelson’s ruling, the potential of implementing the 2010 rules looms larger and that means the same rookie pool system.

That’s the same system that has chilled trades into the top 10 because of the monstrous bonuses. Plus, the ruling raises the specter of the NFL getting hammered on antitrust violations because of the draft. So will there be a draft next year? And if there is, how long will it be are questions, you would think, teams have to ask before making a deal with ’12 draft picks.

» ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay tweeted Monday night Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes was seen at the airport in Mobile, Ala., home of Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Makes sense. Head coach Marvin Lewis indicated Monday the Bengals are looking at all the top five players beyond Newton and Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Their list is probably pretty close to media reports: Fairley, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

Hayes also chatted last weekend with Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. Hayes’ son Jesse is playing for the Badgers next season and he saw him at an event in Madison.


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How long is the QB reach?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 21, 2011 – 11:32 pm

The Thursday scuttlebutt spilling around the draft’s quarterbacks is that two guys the Bengals reportedly like and are working out this weekend, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Florida State’s Christian Ponder, are going to be gone in the first round and that Cincinnati has no shot to get them if they don’t trade back up into the first round from the 35th pick.

That is, of course, if they don’t take Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert at No. 4, the two quarterbacks that the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock calls the “cleanest” of the top prospects.

In Wednesday’s conference call, Mayock said because of the Bengals vacuum at quarterback, “If you believe any one of those kids is the right guy you’ve got to take him over anybody else in the draft.” And that means wide receiver A.J. Green and SAM backer Von Miller.

But Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King has had people telling him that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden loves Dalton and King is theorizing that Jon Gruden is telling his brother to convince Bengals president Mike Brown to do anything he can to trade up from 35 to get him.

Dalton may be the hot guy among the media and in some teams, but there are also people in the NFL that think he’s still the third-round pick he was when this process started. One thing that probably means nothing but is interesting to keep in mind is how the Bengals have always taken tall, big quarterbacks at the top of the draft. Dalton, a shade under 6-2, doesn’t exactly fit the mold.

Look at the guys they’ve taken in the first round and second round going all the way back to the University of Cincinnati’s Greg Cook in 1969. Cook was 6-4, 220 pounds. In 1979, Jack Thompson was 6-3, 217. In 1984, Boomer Esiason was 6-5, 224 pounds. In 1992 David Klinger was 6-3, 210 pounds. In 1999 Akili Smith was 6-3, 220, and in 2003 Carson Palmer was 6-5, 230.

Dalton stands something like 6-1 and 7/8, and he’s listed in most places at 6-2, 213. Only Klinger weighed less. But the body dimensions he comes closest to is the Bengals’ best, third-rounder Ken Anderson, a 6-2, 212-pounder.

Probably means nothing, but what means something is that guys like Maycock haven’t really been able to separate Ponder, Dalton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett. A lot of scouts say in years there was free agency before the draft, those guys would have been second- or third-rounders.

Not now.

“I think there’s panic amongst the teams that need quarterbacks, and ultimately would it make sense for the Vikings to have a Kevin Kolb or a (Marc) Bulger or a (Donovan) McNabb or a Palmer if he was available?” Mayock asked. “Maybe, because I think the worst thing you can do is reach for a quarterback and miss.”

Mayock thinks teams are going to be reaching.

“If you’re not going to take Ryan Mallet because of off the field considerations, then you’re going to reach for a guy that you’re going to have to develop at some point,” he said. “And can you come back in the second round and get a guy or trade back into the first and get a Dalton or get a (Ricky) Stanzi or get a Ponder. And in all honesty, they’ve got great intangibles, but they don’t have the same physical characteristics of the other guys.”


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Hall vote set to close; ’00 repeat?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 20, 2011 – 12:43 pm

A few hits in the hurry-up offense:

» Voting for the 10 finalists for the Bengals.com Hall of Fame ends 12 a.m. Thursday. We won’t deliver the results until after the April 28-30 NFL Draft. There is a lot ground to make up for the other 21 candidates trying to break into the top 10. Career scoring leader Jim Breech was holding down the 10th spot by appearing on 49.7 percent of the ballots. Tight end Bob Trumpy at 44.8 and head coach Forrest Gregg at 39.4 were 11-12.

» Published reports are saying Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green is visiting Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, a player that many, if not most, mock drafts ticket to the Bengals at No. 4.

So on top of quarterback Jordan Palmer’s assertion this week that the working assumption is wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are not coming back, it gets someone thinking.

The last time the Bengals took a receiver with the fourth pick was April 15, 2000 when they tabbed Florida State’s Peter Warrick and a few days later cut their all-time leading receiver, Carl Pickens. Yes, The Ocho is now their career leader, but they can’t cut him during the lockout and if they do want to move him (despite Marvin Lewis’ frequent roasts they still haven’t said) they would prefer to trade him.

Just for the heck of it, the inaugural Bengals.com Hall of Fame class had two first-rounders (Anthony Muñoz, Isaac Curtis), a second-rounder (Boomer Esiason), and a third-rounder (Ken Anderson). Of the top three vote-getters so far for this class, Tim Krumrie was a 10th-rounder, James Brooks was a first-rounder and wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was a second-rounder, although Brooks was obtained in a trade.

By the way, when his time comes The Ocho is a first-ballot Bengals.com Hall of Famer. Maybe Pickens would have put up his numbers if he had Carson Palmer and The Ocho would have had Pickens’ numbers if he had Esiason at the end and Klingler and Akili at the beginning. But this isn’t the Sci-Fi Channel. That’s not what happened.

» Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King tweeted Wednesday he sees at least six quarterbacks in the first 49 picks and maybe seven. Let’s see. That’s Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Locker, Ponder, Dalton and Kaepernick has to be the seventh. Everyone seems to think he’s No. 7 and that Newton is No. 1 and Gabbert is No. 2. After that, it seems to be the eye of the beholder.

Published reports have Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden all over Dalton but some teams wonder about his arm strength. The Bengals have said they like Mallett’s rocket arm, but how they’ve computed it into a grade against his lack of mobility and off-field issues is anyone’s guess. As in, would they take any of the seven if they’re there at No. 35? Or would it have to be a select few or one? Given they’re taking Carson Palmer’s trade-me-or-mothball-me demand seriously, would they even take Kaepernick at No. 35? Even though he’s very raw and is coming out of something called the Pistol Offense and maybe couldn’t help you for two years?


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Ballot ballet

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 13, 2011 – 4:10 pm

My top 10 ballot for the Bengals.com Hall of Fame comes out looking like this (in order):

Ken Riley, Lemar Parrish, Corey Dillon, James Brooks, Rodney Holman, David Fulcher, Sam Wyche, Tim Krumrie, Jim Breech, Bill Bergey.

Which is a little bit different than Tuesday’s first returns:

Krumrie, Brooks, Collinsworth, Riley, Wyche, Fulcher, Parrish, Dillon, Max Montoya, Breech.

(And the vote to cut to the 10 finalists keeps going through April 20.)

We’re all tussling over the thing. After the charter class of Paul Brown, Anthony Muñoz, Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, and Isaac Curtis, it’s a tough call.

Here’s what went through my mind:

Riley should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the only Bengal that has gone to more than Parrish’s six Pro Bowls is Anthony Muñoz. They are the last two guys in my mind that absolutely have to be in there. And Dillon is close because he’s the club’s all-time rusher and broke two of the NFL’s biggest single-game records as a Bengal.

But I understand the arguments against him. A lot of times he was prickly and difficult and tried to engineer trades back when Carson Palmer was trading baseball cards. And blew up a few locker rooms along the way. Long-time Bengals public relations director Jack Brennan, who also covered the club for a decade, puts the vote in context best.

“While Corey is arguably the best running back in Bengals history, he was a more difficult case in his relationship with the fans and Krumrie and Collinsworth were engaging and accessible characters,” Brennan said.

Which is fine. It is the fans’ Hall of Fame. They’re making the call and every fan/writer/broadcaster/player/coach has different values, which ought to be celebrated and not strait-jacketed into someone else’s belief.

Me? I’m just uncomfortable with the whole judgment thing. It’s hard enough to judge these guys as players without getting into a moral and philosophical morass of pontification that would make your head hurt.

All I know is that Corey Dillon ran like hell for a long time without a lot of help and he passes my Hall of Fame test. How many times did he make you save a ticket stub?

(But I’ve got no room for Manny Ramirez in my Hall. He cheated after drug testing. The other guys in the pre-testing Steroids Era, let them in. It was like stealing signs and scuffing the ball. Getting an edge, except it is feared to cause cancer instead of RBIs. Blame the commissioner and the union for entering into an unspoken and unholy alliance. Please, no votes for Donald Fehr and Bud Selig for Cooperstown. It was their arrogance/ignorance/greed that gave rise to the juice.)

And, of course, you can say it is never personal but we know it always is.

If I used the same criteria for Carl Pickens that I am for Dillon, maybe he should be on there. But while Pickens had some big games and one big year (17 TDs in ’95), he didn’t excel at his position for as long as Riley, Parrish, Dillon, Brooks Holman, Fulcher and Breech did. Bergey was only here five years, but people rave about those five years.

And, truth be told, Pickens made my life miserable as a reporter like no one before or since and I always got along fine with Dillon. Plus, Dillon never did what Pickens did, which is hold out of training camp, pocket $8 million, and 14 weeks later rip the head coach so badly that they had to cut him. But, that’s a judgment, isn’t it?

What was worse? Dillon saying he’d rather flip burgers than play for the Bengals or Pickens walking off the field and into free agency singing “This is it” after Tampa Bay hammered them, 35-0? Who knows? Ask one of these millionaire moralists that decides who’s worthy and who’s not.

But my head already hurts, so I’ll just stand on the premise that Pickens flashed, but not long enough to go in before these guys.

Holman is the most underrated player in Bengals history. Boomer Esiason still talks about him reverently. A terrific two-way tight end, his versatility was a big reason Sam Wyche’s no-huddle worked so well. He blocked for a running game that was in the NFL’s top five for five straight seasons while averaging 13.6 yards per career catch. His 34 TD catches are just two fewer than what Collinsworth had at wide receiver.

Brooks was simply a beast running and catching. He was the concept of Marshall Faulk before Marshall Faulk and you wonder what he would have done if he began his career with Wyche and the Bengals. And Wyche has to be on this list because he was so far ahead of his time with his Xs and Os in how he used those two guys and all the rest in the no-huddle.

Bengaldom’s most underrated stat may be Fulcher’s 31 career interceptions, third in team history. That from a strong safety ferocious against the run that helped defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau change the game. Krumrie is there equally for courage and talent. Breech will always have nine lives: Nine-for-nine in OT.

That’s my ballot. Thanks for sharing yours. Keep it going until the 20th.


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Mocking the real world

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 11, 2011 – 7:01 pm

Paul Perillo must have been hit in the head by one of the many line drives surrendered by the Red Sox starters this season.

(With the Patriots Day game a week from Monday morning, the cry now is “One if by Lester, Two if  by Beckett and lights out if anybody else.”)

Perillo is one of the stalwarts of Patriots.com who asked me to participate in the Web site’s 2011 Writers Mock Draft. I’d rather write a mock draft than be in one. In fact, I’d rather get my teeth cleaned, or get a flat tire, or take a drop out of the water at the 14th at Lindale.

You can’t win in a mock draft because it’s all guesswork, but Perillo was nice enough to invite me in and, let’s face it, I’m going to need him in the next week or so when the Bengals.com Mock Media Draft tries to get to the 35th pick in what will no doubt be a festival of phone tag and e-mail angst.

Go to Patriots.com and the first three picks are familiar ones here because they’re the same ones I got last week from Darin Gantt of The Rock Hill Herald and Mike Klis of The Denver Post with Cam Newton and Von Miller, respectively for the Panthers and Broncos. Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News gave me Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at No. 3 for the Bills, just like Chris Brown of Buffalobills.com gave Perillo.

OK, so I may be throwing darts here but the Bengals need a QB badly just to line up and who says there is going to be one left at No. 35 that can take an Opening Day snap? Of course, none of them are a very good Opening Day answer, but it is what it is. Like I told Perillo, I’ll take Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert but that doesn’t mean Carson Palmer is getting traded.

But maybe someone will be there at No. 35 if the Bengals go elsewhere at No. 4.

According to the Pats’ Mock, only three quarterbacks will be gone in the 32 picks of the first round in Newton, Gabbert and Jake Locker to Seattle, taken No. 25 by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. That would leave folks like Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett (too flighty?), TCU’s Andy Dalton (not enough arm strength?), Florida State’s Christian Ponder (too brittle?) and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick (too raw?).

But however many quarterbacks go in the first round, add one because no doubt Perillo’s man Bill Belichick is waving that 33rd pick around like a coupon book. Figure that pick gets traded to a team that missed a QB in the first round. Like Arizona, Minnesota, Tennessee, Washington just to name a few. Or what if Buffalo, picking behind the Bengals in the second, wants to move up?

So that’s four QBs by No. 34.

And before that, what if somebody reaches in the mid to late first like Miami (No. 15), or San Francisco (No. 20), or somebody like the Cards or Redskins trades down into the first?

It could get thin in a hurry at QB.

There is one school of thought that says there are so many questions about the quarterbacks that teams aren’t going to move up to get one. That they’ll just sit there and take what comes because they don’t want to give up a second-rounder or third-rounder for a gamble pick. One working stat is that 55 percent of the NFL’s starters are taken in the top three rounds.

This is where not having free agency and a lockout before the draft fouls you up. You’d have a pretty good grip on what teams are going to do at quarterback because they already would have signed the veterans so they could get in and learn the playbook as soon as possible.

Finally.

The real world is as daffy as a sportswriters Mock.


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No trade winds

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 6, 2011 – 2:20 pm

Palmer

Carson Palmer to the Dolphins?

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has had the Dolphins wired longer since, it seems, Watergate, so when he reports the Dolphins are interested in trading for Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, they are.

But if they think it’s going to take Dan Marino’s suggested third-round pick, they should take a drug test. Mike Brown giving up Palmer for only a third-rounder? Never happen. Brown giving up Palmer period? Maybe less than never.

Although Salguero suggests that the Bengals president is softening on his no-trade stance and others are theorizing the Bengals will trade Palmer if they get a quarterback in the first or second round, not so fast Bob Griese-breath.

Three weeks ago at the NFL meetings, Brown insisted he’s not trading Palmer.  Nothing has happened since then to indicate anything has changed. This isn’t an owner who checks in on his team every once in awhile. This isn’t a GM saying it. Or even an unnamed Bengals official.

It was the day-to-day CEO of the club saying it three weeks ago in a New Orleans hotel room and putting his name to it. No trade. And this is where Brown should never get underestimated. If you back him into a corner publicly on any issue, you’re going to have a long wait. Some might call him stubborn. But most tough, principled and smart people are. You’d call Palmer that, too. But his trade request died the moment it saw the light of day.

It could still happen. But should you hold your breath?

Plus, there’s this: Those close to Brown say Palmer is one of his favorite all-time Bengals. It figures. A great passer with a low-key, easy-to-like personality who never bought all the hype about himself.

I’m sure Armando is right on it.

But it looks like the Dolphins have to fish elsewhere.

At least for now. And now is looking like a long time.

And with the lockout freezing the league, that’s all we’ve got is now.


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Trade up would be historic as QB talk heats

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 4, 2011 – 4:20 pm

The Bengals and draftable quarterbacks are going to be linked heavily this week, given Ryan Mallett’s visit on Friday and this week’s private workout of Cam Newton in Auburn.

With Bengals coaches and scouts not off the road until later in the week, it looks like there isn’t going to be a full-blown discussion or debate for at least a few more days. So the notions they are clearing the decks to draft Mallett at No. 35 or Newton or Blaine Glabbert at No. 4 seem to be a bit premature. A big part of the Mallett discussion is going to be about the so-called intangibles and that’s going to take a little longer to break down and get a consensus than making a call on a guy’s arm, which by all accounts is terrific.

The presumption seems to be since the Bengals have gambled on risks before (Odell Thurman, Chris Henry, Andre Smith) they’ll do it again. But those guys didn’t play quarterback, either.

The intriguing question is if the Bengals don’t draft a QB at No. 4. Would they be willing to trade up into the first round or to even trade with the Patriots to jump two slots into the second round’s top spot for Mallett?

History would tell you no. Not even for a quarterback.

They’ve only traded up twice, according to the media guide: In 1995 they traded the fifth pick and their second-round pick to Carolina for the right to draft Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter No. 1. In the 2002 third round, they again hit up the Panthers for their third-round pick (No. 67) for the Bengals’ third-round pick (73) and a fifth-rounder.

Knowing the Lions were also looking for a tight end at No. 68 and that TCU’s Matt Schobel was the last one on the board that could come in and be a factor, the Bengals were desperate to get in front of Detroit because they had virtually no other tight end on the roster.

Now, could they be that desperate at No. 35 for a QB?

It would be historic.


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