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Bengals Say They Won't Stray Far From Universe Of Top Prospects As Draft Orbits Burrow

Duke Tobin at a scouting combine.
Duke Tobin at a scouting combine.

With the first round of the NFL Draft eight days away, director of player personnel Duke Tobin indicated the Bengals know "the universe" of players from which they'll select with that first pick. So, apparently, does quarterback Joe Burrow.

But during his Wednesday news conference via Zoom, Tobin wouldn't say how big that planet is or who populates it. Most draftnicks are saying it is peopled (in alphabetical order) by LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell.

Burrow has said he's not lobbying for his old long-ball partner Chase in Baton Rogue and Tobin confirmed he hasn't heard anything like that.

"There is no active lobbying for one or the other. I do think he's aware of the universe and on board with anybody we choose from that universe," Tobin said. "We're going to do what we think is best to make Joe as successful as we can because the more successful he is, the more successful the Bengals will be."

It sounds like the Bengals are going to stick with one of the top offensive players in the draft to help Burrow. Even if they do trade the pick, it sounds like they won't wander far from the fifth spot.

"We have discussions with teams all the time about potentials and are you willing to talk about it," Tobin said. "Yeah, we're willing to talk about it. It has to be right. I don't anticipate going down to a point where we're losing the level of player we're looking at right now. I think we're in a good spot in this draft to get one of the guys who is a premier talent."

And they're going to expect a lot for that No. 1 pick no matter where they take him. For one thing, he'll be a starter.

"Anybody we take with that fifth pick," Tobin said, "the expectation is he's going to come in and help us win immediately and play a big role."

Tobin also said they plan to draft offensive linemen at some point next weekend, but while saying they will add, he's also not counting out guys already here.

"I do think we have some good players in the building. I think that group can come together. I'm very bullish on how that group can meld," Tobin said. "It has to stay healthy. If we can get five guys playing together, I think the unit as a whole will look a lot better."

Word that Burrow continues to insist he'll play Opening Day about 10 months after reconstructive knee surgery had Tobin smiling.

"I'm with Joe," he said. "If he's optimistic, I'm optimistic."