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Porter's versatility may allow Bengals to back up MIKE, SAM; Special teams gets lift

Posted Apr 27, 2013

The Bengals began Saturday opting for in the fourth round for Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter, a guy they think might be able to back up all three spots at some point.

Updated: 3:30 p.m.

The Bengals are having another banner draft, according to the national pundits, and head coach Marvin Lewis hopes to keep it going Saturday in rounds four to seven by acquiring depth behind his regulars.

To that end they began Saturday opting for in the fourth round Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter, a guy the club thinks can back up all three spots at some point this season. Then for more depth on the offensive line they selected in the fifth round Tanner Hawkinson from Kansas, a backup guard-center type probably fighting with veteran Mike Pollak to join Kyle Cook and Trevor Robinson in the interior somewhere. 

After the first four picks in the first four rounds, the reviews are excellent again. Saturday morning ESPN put the Bengals up with the Vikings, Cardinals and Jets in a vote for the best first three rounds.

FoxSports.com made Cincinnati one of the big winners of Friday night:

"Cincinnati, fresh off two straight trips to the playoffs, made big waves on Friday by not only drafting Giovani Bernard and Margus Hunt, but by re-signing right tackle Andre Smith to a three-year deal. Smith, whose contract situation has dragged on all offseason, inked the contract just before Cincinnati’s pick of Bernard. With Tyler Eifert, the Bengals first-round pick, and Bernard as added weapons and Smith locked up to protect the quarterback, Andy Dalton, really has no excuses on the offensive side of the ball. The weapons and the protection are there."

Lewis compares Porter's athleticism and size to Thomas Howard, the big WILL who was the club's best linebacker in 2011 before he ripped up his ACL after the 2012 opener.

The big reason the Bengals like Porter is because he played virtually every spot at A&M and linebackers coach Paul Guenther thinks he has the potential to come in as a rookie and be the first backer off the bench at SAM and the middle, where the Bengals have little players of note with Dan Skuta's departure in free agency.

"He's a good cover guy. He took over Von Miller's spot as the outside backer in the 3-4," Guenther said of Porter's 10-sack season in 2011. "They changed schemes and he played various roles. MIKE, cover downs. He brings us a lot as far as different roles."

SIMMONS LIKES IT: The special teams coordinator rarely ever surfaces during a draft, but Darrin Simmons enjoyed what happened early. Even though the Bengals have better punt returners than second-round pick Giovani Bernard, the versatile running back figures to get a shot at returning kicks even though he didn't do it at North Carolina.

But Simmons sees more defined roles potentially for defensive end Margus Hunt, safety Shawn Williams and linebacker Sean Porter.

He smiled when asked if it can be assumed that the 6-8 Hunt is going to be on the field-goal block team after his NCAA record 17 blocks at SMU.

"That would be a pretty good guess," Simmons said. "Someone with that length and the fact he has a knack for it. He knows how to work his body and get himself in position and get over the top flight of the ball. There's a lot more than just being big. He understands how to get to the flight of the kick. He does a good job of maneuvering his body through the hole. You have to make yourself skinny at the right time. A lot of it is timing."

Simmons has watched Williams and Porter, and he likes what he sees because of their speed. Williams blocked a punt in his bowl game against Nebraska and Pro Football Weekly made the same call on them both: should be able to impact immediately on special teams and they are respected leaders.

"I think Williams is a hard-playing guy who brings a lot energy and emotion," Simmons said. "I think Porter has a chance to be good player, too. Any time you can get guys who can really run, that's always going to be a big help for me.

"Porter can run; he has movement to him. He's a guy we want to continue to get stronger. Each one of these guys is going to have their role."

 

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