With their second-round pick Friday night the Bengals opted to add to their defensive line depth when they tapped Penn State tackle Devon Still, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
The 6-4, 310-pound Still, a cousin of former NFL players Art Still and Levon Kirkland, is ticketed to join Pat Sims backing up starting tackles Domata Peko and Geno Atkins. Kirkland was a Steelers linebacker who played for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis when he was a position coach.
"Another good second-round pick," Lewis said.
The Bengals were thought to be mulling wide receivers and running backs, but three picks before they were on the clock the Rams took a guy right out of their own backyard in University of Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead at No 50.
As they stayed put deep in the round at 53 and watched the Jets trade up from 47 to 43 to take Georgia Tech speedster Stephen Hill, the Bengals tipped their hand.
They had good grades on Hill, but clearly they weren't prepared to give up picks to go up and get a guy that has as many questions as strengths. He's 6-4 and runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, but he also dropped a lot of balls and was seen by some as a project that might need a year to make the transition. After taking a raw guy in Jerome Simpson at No. 46 in 2008 who didn't play for three years, they apparently weren't ready to repeat that.
Instead, the Steelers and Bengals were staging a typical AFC North battle of attrition even in the draft. Pittsburgh took its second offensive lineman of the draft in the second round shortly after the Bengals took Still on top of guard Kevin Zeitler late in the first round.
"In this division," Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes said of not taking 300-pounders, "they take away your man card."
Still has been hampered by losing two seasons to injury with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2007 and a broken left ankle in 2011, but he finished his career with a strong senior season in which he had 4.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
"It's a great opportunity to play for the Bengals because they have such a grerat defense," Still said in his conference call with the Cincinnati media. "Every time I watch them their defense is always a problem. So just to be a man on that defense and if I can get in that rotation hopefully I can give them what they need to get to that Super Bowl."
Still, thought highly enough to be invited to New York, was the second to last player to leave the green room. He said he was surprised it was the Bengals that called because he hadn't had any contact with them since the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Hayes says Still has to improve his consistency, but he also thinks it will help greatly if Still breaks in playing 15 to 20 snaps as opposed to the 55 he averaged for a Penn State team that didn't have a rotation.
"That's a lot of plays; especially at the college level and being in the conference I played in," he said. "I actually think playing (fewer) snaps will help my burst out. Help me make more of an impact."
When a 300-pound guy gets worn down, it doesn't look good and sometimes people start to question the motor. They did it to Bengals picks like Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Pat Sims, and they haven't had that problem here with Hayes and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
"It may seem like he doesn't have a great motor. Just from experience, playing a lot plays, it does take a toll," Still said. "But being it's a professional sport, you have to be able to do that. Teams are making an investment in you for a reason."