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Inside The Pick: Bengals Have Georgia On Their Mind In First-Round Selection of RT Amarius Mims

Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims (65) Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) is shown on the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee Martin Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Georgia offensive lineman Amarius Mims (65) Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) is shown on the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee Martin Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack already coaches the NFL's biggest tackle-tandem in the last 15 years. And he's not exactly tiny himself. Pro Football Reference puts the former 49ers tackle's playing size at 6-5, 285 pounds.

But even Pollack spewed admiring adjectives about the dimensions of his newest player Thursday night after the Bengals airlifted the 6-8, 340-pound Amarius Mims out of the draft's first round at No. 18.

"He's huge. A monster. Humungous," Pollack started. "His measurables have to be at the top of the league. His hands are a smidge over 11 (inches). His (arm) length is 36 and change. His wing (span) is 86 and change. It's ridiculous."

But here's what has Pollack and the rest of the Bengals feeling jaunty these days.

"And he can move. He can run. He's athletic. How is that possible?" Pollack wondered. "And he uses it with his length. That's what you want. Especially on the edge. There are guys who are long and have good length, but they don't use it. It's a moot point if they don't use it. He uses it."

Pollack's sprawling taste in music can usually be heard softly coming out of his computer, but on Thursday night the soundtrack was the NFL Draft. It very well could have been Ray Charles purring "Georgia on My Mind."

Certainly, it was on the mind Trey Brown and Mike Potts. The big man has just eight college starts, but Potts, the director of college scouting, and Brown, senior personnel executive, along with others in the Bengals personnel department who make the pilgrimages to Athens, saw Mims practice long before this past season, when an injured ankle cut his season in half.

"We circle it on our calendar whenever we go there because we know we're going to see some high-end talent," Brown said. "And then (Mims) would show up every time. Anytime you get a guy coming out of that program with how they train, how they develop players, it puts you at ease going to guys coming out of that system. There were a lot of great defensive players Amarius was able to go against."

In the last two drafts before this one, Georgia produced five defensive linemen who went in the first round. Three of them play on the edge, giving Mims exposure to NFL talent long before he broke into the lineup. One of them, Travon Walker, was the draft's overall No. 1 pick.

"You can look at it as a negative," said Potts of Mims' mere eight college starts. "But you can also look at it that the games he did play were quality tape. He's really gifted. He's got every physical attribute you could want and he's a good person."

Which is why it sounds like the Bengals stayed true to their grades even with 14 straight offensive players flying off the board to start the draft, leaving more blue-chip defensive players staring at them than they expected.

Still, by the time No. 18 rolled around, the best defensive tackle, Byron Murphy II of Texas, and the top two edgers, Laiatu Latu of UCLA and Dallas Turner of Alabama, were gone. But the long line of elite tackles they expected to survive was still there. No thanks to new Titans head coach and old Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, who at No. 7 did what Zac Taylor did and made an Alabama tackle his first pick. It seemed like Pollack could have winced when J.C. Latham was gone.

"The thing is just not obviously size, length, measurables. The guy (Mims) is a hell of an athlete," Brown said. "He's got a great ability to mirror and slide. When you look at tackles transitioning to this level, those qualities fit really well what we do."

Mims' upside with his size and movement appeared to slightly trump Washington's Troy Fautanu, a brilliant prospect with slightly more intangibles than measurables who went to the Steelers two picks after Mims.

The Bengals think Mims has plenty of both. They interviewed him enough. They snagged him for one of the formal 18-minute interviews at the NFL scouting combine and they brought him in for a visit to Paycor Stadium a few weeks ago. Pollack took him and another tackle prospect out to lunch across the street.

"Good visit. Solid, smart guy. Still young and learning the game. But he was receptive," Pollack said. "He's got a lot of things to sharpen up, but he shows he can do it."

The trade calls usually come at that point, but the Bengals were focused on Mims as they got on the clock. When they bounced out of the building just as the Panthers were picking South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette to end the first round, there seemed to be a sense the Bengals felt like they got a bargain.

"You talk about six quarterbacks going before we picked, that really helped us," Pollack said.

Potts liked it better this way.

"We'll never know," Potts said. "But if he played every game last year, there's no way we would have got him at 18."


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