2006 Bengals.com media mock draft

1. HOUSTON: Reggie Bush, RB, USC: No legit trade offers to speak of. Yet. He's the best player in the draft and the best offensive player quarterback David Carr has ever had. Selected by Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

2. NEW ORLEANS: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia:The Saints aren't saying if they'll go with Ferguson, Mario Williams, or A.J. Hawk because someone may want to trade up with them to get Williams. If not, they get a top 5 left tackle for the next 10 years. Selected by Mike Triplett, New Orleans Times-Picayune

3. TENNESSEE: Vince Young, QB, Texas:Head coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Norm Chow and their USC connections are apparently lusting after quarterback Matt Leinart. But Young reminds general manager Floyd Reese of a young Steve McNair and no one has to remind him Fisher pushed for troubled "Pac Man" Jones last year. Selected by Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean

4. JETS: Matt Leinart, QB, USC:Stunned that the USC royalty of Fisher and Chow have spurned Leinart, they take the guy they wanted all along. They figure if he can cope with Hollywood, he can handle Broadway, and he's the long-term answer to the most important question on the field. Selected by Peter King, Sports Illustrated

5. GREEN BAY: A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State: Packers boss Ted Thompson is a firm believer in taking the best player on the board. He did it last year when no one really thought they'd take quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Selected by Jason Wilde, Wisconsin State Journal

6. SAN FRANCISCO: Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State: They doubt that the best pass rusher in the draft will fall that far and they're thinking more along the lines of tight end Vernon Davis. Davis, they think, is a good fit for a young quarterback who has no marquee weapons around him. Selected by Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

7. OAKLAND: Michael Huff, DB, Texas: If one of the top two quarterbacks isn't available, look for Al Davis to continue his life-long love affair with speed in taking the ever versatile Huff. Selected by John Clayton, ESPN.com

8. BUFFALO: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State: The loss of Sam Adams is driving this pick. They're looking for one-gap penetration and disruption and now there are people up there wondering why they let Adams get away in the first place, not to mention Pat Williams the year before. Selected by Allen Wilson, Buffalo News

9. DETROIT: Haloti Ngata, NT, Oregon: With Dan Wilkinson not returning, they think he would team with Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody to form a formidable rotation in the middle of a neglected defense. He'd be the Lions' first defensive first-round pick since linebacker Chris Claiborne in 1999. Selected by Mike O'Hara, Detroit News

10. ARIZONA: Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland: They don't think he'll be there, but they'll rent out The Biltmore for the party if he is. For a team that finished next-to-last in the NFL in red zone efficiency and has - outside of the Bengals – the best young receiving tandem in the league, he would be the final piece in an offense ready to take off now that running back Edgerrin James is in tow. Selected by Kent Somers, Arizona Republic

11. ST. LOUIS: Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State: Not the ideal scenario for the Rams. New defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is looking for the penetrating tackle in Bunkley instead of a run stuffer. North Carolina State's Manny Lawson is also a possibility here, as well as trading out with someone who is looking for Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. But they can put the 230-pound Sims on the strong side, giving them essentially three weak-side backers who can run and are explosive in Sims, Pia Tinoisamoa and Will Witherspoon. Selected by Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

12. CLEVELAND: Kamerion Wimbley, DE, Florida State: They'd prefer Bunkley or Ngata, and if they can't get them they'll go for a pass rusher they can put opposite Willie McGinest in the 3-4. Wimbley is just 250 pounds and isn't exactly a power player. But he's got enough athleticism to be a nice fit in a Romeo-esque scheme in which they won't let him do what he can't. Whatever happens, they'll address their Front 7 in each of the first three rounds.

Selected by Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

13. BALTIMORE: Winston Justice, OT, USC: The Ravens would love to get Michael Huff or Vince Young and if not, they'll opt for the heir apparent to perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden as he turns 32 the first weekend of training camp. Justice looks to be the second and last first-round tackle. Selected by Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Sun

14. PHILADELPHIA: Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa: The Eagles are looking for big people on each line, particularly with an eye on Justice. But since they're all gone, they go with a talented big hitter who has the ability to match up with slot receivers and should infuse some new blood in a defense that dipped to No. 23 this season. Selected by Pete Prisco, CBSSportsline.com

15. DENVER: Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State: With Ashley Lelie on the trading block and Rod Smith turning 36 in a couple of weeks, they desperately need a wide receiver that can run and make plays down the field. Selected by Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

16. MIAMI: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida: With Marty Booker turning 30, Chris Chambers needs a running mate and they turn to the fastest guy at the combine. They'll talk about Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler here, and they may even think about trading up to get Cutler, or Young if he drops. But not a real need with Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington in the fold. Selected by Alex Marvez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

17. MINNESOTA: Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt: They'll be doing cartwheels and hand stands if he's there, and may even trade up a little earlier to get him. Selected by Sean Jensen, St. Paul Pioneer-Press

18. DALLAS: Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State: They could go for North Carolina State's Manny Lawson here to put on the opposite side of Demarcus Ware, but they already went through making a DE a linebacker in a 3-4 thing with Ware last year. And Carpenter can play both inside and outside, and with his dad playing for Bill Parcells with the Giants all those years ago, they know him and like him. Selected by Todd Archer, Dallas Morning News

19. SAN DIEGO: Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State: They only have two cornerbacks returning and even though this guy could be the biggest risk of the day after missing all last year with an ACL injury in what would have been just his third season, he could also have the biggest upside as a 6-2, 208-pound guy who can cover. Selected by Jim Trotter, San Diego Union-Tribune

20. KANSAS CITY: Manny Lawson, DE, North Carolina State: Doesn't look to be a fit on a 4-3 team, but they think they can beef him up later and they just need him to come in right now and provide another pass rusher besides defensive end Jared Allen on a club that had just 29 sacks last season for the third fewest in the AFC. They could also look at a cornerback, but they apparently think Tye Hill is too small. Selected by Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star

21. NEW ENGLAND: Johnathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina: With the two value 3-4 linebackers off the board in Lawson and Wimbley, the Pats fill their long awaited cornerback need. Selected by Tom Curran, Providence Journal

22. SAN FRANCISCO: Tye Hill, CB, Clemson: The two biggest needs for the Niners defense are a pass rush (they had the second fewest sacks in the NFC) and pass coverage (foes hit them for 28 TD passes and a 94 passer rating). They only have nickel corners behind starter Shawntae Spencer. Selected by Matt Maiocco Santa Rosa Press Democrat

23. TAMPA BAY: Jimmy Williams, CB, Virginia Tech: Ronde Barber (31) and Brian Kelly (30) have been great players for the NFL's defending No. 1 defense, but they're getting long in the tooth there. If Williams arrives with not the greatest attitude as advertised, they figure 33-year-old Derrick Brooks and 34-year-old Shelton Quarles can show him the way. They'll think about Auburn tackle Marcus McNeil here, but will probably opt to get younger on defense. Selected by Chris Harry, Orlando Sentinel

24. CINCINNATI: Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA: Selected by Gil Brandt, NFL.com.

The last piece of the puzzle for one of the NFL's most dominating offenses that hasn't had a tight end catch more than 30 balls in a season in nearly 10 years (Tony McGee in 1997).

This pick goes against the conventional wisdom that the Bengals will go defense and get the tight end in the second round. But according to various mock drafts, offensive tackles Marcus McNeil of Auburn and LSU's Andrew Whitworth also have to be considered here.

Also on the board at this point are defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College and Tamba Hali of Penn State, Tennessee cornerback-safety Jason Allen, Ohio State safety Donte Whitner, and Miami of Florida cornerback Kelly Jennings.

The Bengals are looking at enough guys that they could trade down a few spots and still get one of those they value. The knock on Lewis is that he's not the game-breaker that Kellen Winslow and Todd Heap are because he doesn't have the breakaway speed, but Brandt argues that he's a terrific athlete good enough to get recruited for UCLA basketball and he knows how to block. The speed factor could make him available if the Bengals trade down, but he won't be there in the second round at No. 55.

Brandt thinks highly of Kiwanuka as a person and recalls that when he showed up at the scouting combine back in February, he had all his hair cut off. When Brandt supervised the Playboy All-American shoot back in the summer, Kiwanuka had the long hair but decided it would be best for his image with the NFL teams to cut it. "Remember me, Mr. Brandt?" he asked at the combine.

While the 6-5, 270-pound Kiwanuka would help the Bengals immediately on the pass rush, there are enough doubts about his all-around game that Brandt says, "He's high risk, high reward."

But, of course, everyone at this point has some sort of wart or mole. Allen is a versatile, alluring player who is a three-year starter and can play both spots. He had good workouts, but how seriously damaged is his hip that kept him out most of his season? The 5-10, 204-pound Whitner is a little small for a strong safety and does he have first-round value if they don't think he can also play corner? Is Jennings strong enough and stout enough in run support?

Of course, the draft isn't going to unfold exactly like this, but it does give you the sense of when the run on cornerbacks could begin and how quickly they'll go when the first one goes. In his own mock, Brandt has Tye Hill, Whitner, and Allen going 24, 25, 26.

Even the four corners that aren't on the board have questions surrounding them. The 5-9 Hill runs a 10.2 second 100 yards, but is he too short? Is Jimmy Williams too big? Has Joseph played enough? And, what about Cromartie? He's only started one game in college and wouldn't have played in two years. But his upside is as enormous as the questions. The Bengals could be faced with some of these same questions if other teams back off certain players with certain questions.

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