Five takes from NFL Draft weekend:
GOOD OPENING KARMA: Here’s some good vibes for second-round pick Andy Dalton, quarterback, and first-round pick A.J. Green, wide receiver. In the only Opening Day game ever started by a Bengals rookie quarterback, Greg Cook engineered a 27-14 win over Miami at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 14, 1969. Cook outdueled Bob Griese’s 327-yard day when two of his 11 completions went for 69- and 25-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Eric Crabtree, also making his Bengals debut. Crabtree had played the previous three seasons for the Broncos, but you get the idea.
The opener is in Cleveland, scene of the last road win by a Bengals rookie QB when Akili Smith beat the Browns on a last second two-pointer to Carl Pickens in 1999 in his first NFL start.
BEST NON-DRAFT NEWS: The one day Bengals kicker Mike Nugent was able to come into the facility last week, he was able to kick a football and make all of his handful of field-goal tries. And that’s just five months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his kicking knee.
TEA LEAVES: Trying to read the tea leaves on Chad Ochocinco, although the rhetoric from both The Ocho and head coach Marvin Lewis seems to make it pretty clear cut. But when the Bengals take two wide receivers in the same draft (Green and Stanford’s Ryan Whalen in the sixth round), it usually means at least one major move.
» In 2010, the Bengals drafted Jordan Shipley (3) and Dez Briscoe (6) after they let loose Laveranues Coles, second in yards in ’09.
» In 2008, the Bengals drafted Jerome Simpson (2) and Andre Caldwell (3) before ’08 leading receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh left in free agency.
» We won’t count 2006 with Reggie McNeal and Bennie Brazell. McNeal was a college quarterback and Brazell was an Olympic sprinter.
» In 2005, they took Chris Henry (3) and Tab Perry (6), and 2004 turned out to be the last year for former No. 1 pick Peter Warrick.
» In 2001 they drafted The Ocho (2) and Houshmandzadeh (7) and their second-leading wide receiver, Craig Yeast, was gone for the next season.
So the past 10 years would tell you there’s going to be some sea change after a two-receiver draft.
WHICH FREE AGENTS? Unclear when the word is going to come on a permanent stay of the lockout, the Bengals spent Monday prioritizing their list of undrafted players. And, as head coach Marvin Lewis wondered on Saturday, if the free-agent gates open at the same time, which ones do you pursue first?
The Bengals already have Kyle Cook and Reggie Stephens at center, so that’s probably not a need, but NFL.com draft titan Gil Brandt says Dalton’s center at TCU, Jake Kirkpatrick, is better than some of the guys that got drafted.
And if they think they need another running back, Brandt likes Auburn’s Mario Fannin. The 5-10, 231-pounder led the SEC with quality runs, converting 70.5 percent of the time for four yards per carry, third-down conversions, and touchdowns. And they watched Kentucky’s Derrick Locke gouge them in the first half of the Senior Bowl.
Yet the Bengals could have had them ahead of Baylor’s Jake Finley, since they took him with their last pick deep in the seventh round with the mentality of picking the best free agent on the board.
The Bengals coaches had North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney at the Senior Bowl. The best SAM backer on the board, Brandt says, looks to be 6-4, 230-pound Quentin Davie out of Northwestern. The productive-minded Bengals might like his 24 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, and five forced fumbles in 50 games.
Another safety? They had Joe Lefeged of Rutgers at the Senior Bowl and he’s another college producer with 238 tackles and eight forced fumbles in his career.
CARSON UPDATE: Somebody said they read Carson Palmer is one of the big winners of the weekend since the selection of TCU quarterback Andy Dalton allows the Bengals to move on and trade Palmer.
As Sgt. Hulka said in Stripes, ” Lighten up, Francis.”
If anything, the Dalton pick may make sure a trade doesn’t come off. Now the Bengals are not forced to do much of anything, although they are mulling a veteran free agent quarterback for a staff that has all of 14 NFL passes. Draft picks are going to have to be involved if they trade Palmer, so maybe they’re thinking why not wait until next year when a) they actually know what they’re trading for and the things have some value and b) they know what the rules of the draft are actually going to be.
Maybe the pick sparks a compromise. Palmer comes in with the understanding Dalton is the QB of the future, plays for a year, takes the kid under his wing, and they call it even after 2011 and do a deal.
And, of course, maybe not.
But their best short to contend is with No. 9; no one debates that.
“The Bengals are a good team,” says Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. “If Palmer is there, they’re in the mix. If he’s not, you have to scale that back. But they’re a team on the verge.”
Tags: 2-receiver drafts, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Eric Crabtree, Greg Cook, Mike Nugent, undrafted free agents, undrafted players
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