INDIANAPOLIS- Paul Guenther, who has been to nine of these things as an assistant or position coach, is taking in his first NFL Scouting Combine as the Bengals defensive coordinator and he says it's really no different because he always checked out the other positions.
"The only difference,' he said Sunday, "is I sit in all the interviews and that's about it."
And here's something else that hasn't changed. Guenther is close friends with NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, the guy that has become the face of the combine thanks to the wall-to-wall coverage, and he gets on him all the time about how the combine is "over-hyped." Guenther is a tape guy.
"I had dinner with him last night," Guenther said of Mayock. "They put it on TV and I understand that. But some of the comments. 'A bad toe turn there.' Come on, seriously. These quarterbacks that throw, they're throwing to guys they’ve never thrown to. And they're like, 'See, that was a bad throw. It wasn't quite over the outside shoulder.' But they threw the ball over 500 times in college in a real game. That’s just my opinion. The combine is more so you get to know the person. There are a couple of things you want to see in the drills by position, but other than that, really, it's over-hyped."
Some other quick hits from Guenther's conversation with the local media:
He plans on keeping the same techniques and system passed on from Mike Zimmer, but he says he plans to have more multiple fronts in an effort to get better matchups. The plan is to move players into more favorable spots on the defensive line while keeping the same personnel group. And on any down, not just third down.
Guenther says it's not like 2006, 2007, or 2012, when the Bengals desperately needed a cornerback and selected Johnathan Joseph,
"If there's like an edge rusher, who do we rank higher? Who is the best player? A good safety sitting there?" Guenther asked. "It used to be in the past, 'We've got to get this position. One way or another. We have to fill this role.' We don’t have that hole right now on defense."
Let's talk about Missouri linebacker Michael Sam as a player. Guenther did and said given the Bengals play a 4-3 defense and their deepest position on defense is linebacker, it doesn't look like a fit. Guenther compared him to the Bengals' third-round pick in 2011. Nevada end Dontay Moch was the star of the combine with an astounding athletic performance, but he struggled with the process of switching from pass-rushing end to SAM backer and that's the challenge Sam faces.
Moch, now with Arizona, has played five games in three seasons and only one was with the Bengals.
"Marvin (Lewis) and I go around and around about this. I always tell him it takes one year to get (acclimated). For a guy who never dropped, he always rushed. He has to learn. I've done it," Guenther. "Marvin coached linebackers in the 3-4 where you tell them to just go to the flat and sit there. In our system you've got tight ends, you've got backs, you've got progressions, and the spacing and up front fits. And how you take on the fullback. That's tough for guy who's never done it. To do those things and then move back five yards and stand, it's different. To me, a year if you're lucky."