There’s no question that the Bengals are going to scout the top quarterbacks in the April 25-27 draft.
The question is, are they going to draft him on April 26 or April 27?
They continue the process Friday, when Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Bengals will work out Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel in Tallahassee. And it would be no surprise if Manuel is one of the 30 prospects they’ve scheduled for a Paul Brown Stadium visit before the draft.
There isn’t anybody the Bengals are not checking out at this stage. At any position. Anybody, at least, that’s got a shot of being drafted and they’re also looking at guys they’ll end up signing after the draft in the mold of Vontaze Burfict, Emmanuel Lamur and Jeromy Miles.
The Bengals have somebody at every pro day. While head coach Marvin Lewis stalked the North Carolina sidelines with East Coast scout Greg Seamon this week, the same day new assistant secondary coach Adam Zimmer was at the University of Connecticut.
(Odds are the Bengals won’t draft a guy from either place, but here’s where we’ll make our pitch for Tar Heels running back Giovani Bernard.)
But the only way the Bengals would get Manuel is if he free-falls into the third round.
No one thinks the Bengals are going to take a quarterback with one of their first three picks in the first two rounds, knowing how they have felt about those picks in the past. They’re going to want those guys to come in and start. Or, at the very least, play regularly.
The third round figures to the first time the Bengals start even gazing at the QBs and given they are usually over-drafted, particularly in a lean year, it could be fairly picked over.
But the Bengals aren’t looking for a Manuel-type to come in and eventually be a starter. They’re looking to support Andy Dalton with better competition and a young guy talented enough that they can develop who can come in and win games off the bench if need be. A future Ryan Fitzpatrick, perhaps, a seventh-rounder in 2005.
If the Bengals draft a guy that’s not ready, then they could go back to keeping three QBs instead of two to develop him without fear of him getting plucked from the practice squad and keep up the hunt for a veteran that began with the Josh Johnson signing.
But Dalton himself is part of that influx the past two seasons that shows rookie QBs don’t have to be treated like some delicate experiment in a Petri dish that can’t be exposed to harsh light for a year. The Redskins got two wins off the bench from fourth-rounder Kirk Cousins just this past season.
Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is trade bait now, but it’s highly doubtful the Bengals would give up a draft pick for him. If he gets released it could be interesting, but they’ve also been cautious with players that have a history of concussions and he has a storied one.
So we know the Bengals will work them out, but when will they take him? April 26 ends with the third round, April 27 has all the rest.
Tags: Adam Zimmer, Colt McCoy, E.J. Manuel, Greg Seamon, Marvin Lewis, Ryan Fitzpartrick
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Offseason workouts don’t start for another month but three Bengals are headed to Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday to work the phones at 2:30 p.m. to thank Bengals season-ticket holders for renewing. Defensive tackle Domata Peko and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the team’s de facto captains, along with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, one of last season’s first-round draft picks, plan to make the thank you calls.
Tags: Andrew Whitworth, Domata Peko, Dre Kirkpatrick
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 11 Comments »
Various reports Thursday night had Bengals offensive coordinators past and present on hand in Syracuse to watch Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib’s campus workout earlier in the day for NFL scouts.
Ken Anderson, who also doubles as the Bengals all-time leading passer, was there as one of Nassib’s coaches. Gruden was there because the Bengals appear to be in search of a backup quarterback with Bruce Gradkowski headed to free agency.
Gruden’s appearance in the ‘Cuse would suggest the Bengals are looking seriously at the draft as well as free agency. How high they would draft one is emerging as quite the intriguing question. Nfldraftscout.com has Nassib rated as the fifth-ranked quarterback and they go quickly on Draft Day.
Anderson said he spoke with Gruden before the workout and Gruden’s tight schedule didn’t allow them to speak after, but Jeff Reynolds of nfldraftscout.com reported that the Bengals had set up a visit with Nassib. The Jets, he said, were taking him to dinner and the Bills, now coached by Nassib’s college coach Doug Marrone, were represented by general manager Buddy Nix.
With Anderson and longtime NFL offensive coordinator Paul Hackett running the workout, Reynolds charted Nassib completing 69 of 75 passes.
“I was really pleased with how he looked,” Anderson said Thursday night. “I thought he really showed good arm strength today.”
Anderson ticked off Nassib’s pluses in a pro offense:
“First of all, he’s very smart,” Anderson said. “That’s the big thing. And he’s used to making pro throws. His mechanics are solid, his footwork is good. He really had a good day.”
Tags: Ryan Nassib Jay Gruden Ken Anderson
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Last year when I asked Jay Gruden why he turned down opportunities to interview for NFL head coaching jobs after the 2011 season, the Bengals offensive coordinator joked that his reason was sartorial.
“I didn’t have a good coat and tie,” Jay deadpanned at the time.
Clearly clothes are no longer an issue since Gruden interviewed for head coaching positions in Philadelphia, Arizona, San Diego, and Jacksonville in January. And while Jay didn’t get any of the jobs, at least he has a new suit.
“I wore it four times – the same one every time,” Gruden said with a laugh. “It was exciting and flattering that these teams would even think to interview me. It says a lot about our offense and how far we’ve come and Coach Lewis and what people around the league think about what he’s done with his program. It was a great opportunity.
“I knew that it was probably a long-shot. I think that I had good interviews and felt good about the process and if I am ever fortunate enough to have another opportunity, I’ll feel a lot more prepared.”
Now that he’s back for a third season as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator, Gruden is currently working on two things: Studying skill-position players for the upcoming NFL draft, and reviewing tape of the Bengals from last season.
“We’re very involved as coaches in the draft process, but you also have to take the time to look back at what you did offensively and figure out ways to get better,” said Gruden. “You have to see if you had any tendencies over the course of the year that you have to correct, but overall, you’re trying to find out what your players are good at and what you had trouble with and get things fixed that you need to fix. We definitely feel that we have not reached our full potential on offense, and it’s my job as a coordinator to get it out of them.”
With three of the top 53 picks in the draft, the Bengals are obviously in position to boost an offense that ranked 22nd in the NFL in total yards. So what is at the top of Gruden’s wish list?
“We need another playmaker and we need someone who can take the ball 80 yards on a swing pass, or a hand-off, or what have you,” Jay told me. “A little bit of speed. But we’re pretty good everywhere – we need to take our pretty-good players and turn them into great players, and our great players need to be extraordinary. We just have to keep pushing the envelope and making sure that everybody gets better.”
One thing that the Bengals are not looking for is a new starting quarterback. Andy Dalton has started every game in his first two NFL seasons, led the Bengals to back-to-back playoff appearances, and has tossed 47 TD passes in 32 regular season games. But Gruden says that his 25-year-old QB has plenty to work on.
“In the offseason you work on your arm strength, your footwork – basically your fundamentals of football – and obviously he needs to get better with his deep ball accuracy and touch,” Gruden said. “There’s not really one part of his game that he can’t improve upon. Scramble ability, foot quickness, accuracy, deep accuracy, short (accuracy), anticipation – he’s got a long way to go. He’s done some great things for a second-year quarterback, won a lot of games and thrown a lot of touchdown passes, but we feel that he has not come close to his potential and it’s our job to get it out of him.”
Dalton finished his second season with a passer rating of 87.4, but it dropped to 67.0 in his last six games, and Andy struggled in the playoff loss in Houston going 14-for-30 for 127 yards with 0 TD and 1 INT. That led to a surge in the number of people questioning whether Dalton will ever be good enough to lead Cincinnati to a deep playoff run. Gruden says that he isn’t bothered by the criticism of his quarterback.
“It’s the nature of the position and that’s what he signed up to be,” said Gruden. “He’s getting paid a pretty good chunk of change to be a quarterback, and anytime you sign up to be a quarterback, you have to take the good with the bad. One of the biggest strengths that you have to have as a quarterback is being mentally tough. When things don’t get well, people are going to be all over you. They’re going to boo you; they’re going to want you out of town and your coaches out of town. He has to take that criticism and use it as fuel to make himself better. Hopefully he’s doing that. He’s a very competitive person – as I am – and we’re going to do the best that we can to make this franchise something to be proud of.”
After all, a new suit is nice – but it pales in comparison to a Super Bowl ring.
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