In the quest to find a young tight end to back up Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals tapped Georgia junior Orson Charles in the fourth round Saturday to start the final day of the NFL Draft. The 6-2, 251-pound Charles is seen as a good all-around player who can do a little bit of everything. He lit up the combine repping 225 pounds 35 times, breaking the tight end record held by fellow Georgia product Ben Watson.
The Bengals began the first of their three fifth-round picks with Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater, a 5-10, 188-pounder from Nebraska projected to be a good Cover 2 pro corner, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper. But he's got a tough road. He's the lowest drafted of the eight corners on the roster.
Then with the Chad Ochocinco fifth-rounder from New England there was an ironic twist with the selection of speedy California wide receiver Marvin Jones. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com said that Jones had the biggest Senior Bowl by a receiver coming under the radar since Chad Johnson in 2001. At 6-2, 197 pounds, Jones is more than an intriguing pick with sure hands and a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Plus, in making the phone call, head coach Marvin Lewis discovered he was talking to Marvin Lewis Jones, a prep All-American from Fontana, Calif., that also comes with high character grades.
Then on the very next selection, the last one in the fifth from the Keith Rivers trade, the Bengals went with box safety George Iloka of Boise State and he'll try to stick on special teams. He's got the similar dimensions of one of the current starters, Taylor Mays, but not the speed.
After that pick, the ESPN draft talent announced no team has had a better draft over the last three days while the NFL Network gave the Bengals draft an A.
The Bengals made their last selection in the sixth round Ohio State running back Dan Herron, whose best shot is latching on as a special teams player.
The biggest need for college free agency that starts right after the draft is outside linebacker. By not taking a running back until Herron, the Bengals indicated it wasn't a pressing need with the four they already have.
The Bengals went to the Georgia well one more time as the 6-2, 251-pound Charles becomes the sixth Bulldog on the roster, joining wide receiver A.J. Green, right guard Clint Boling, right tackle Dennis Roland and defensive linemen Robert Geathers and Geno Atkins. After Atkins in 2010 and Boling in 2011, it's the third straight year the Bengals took a Georgian in the fourth round.
"To get this kid, I think he can really help us become that much better of a team," said tight end coach Jon Hayes. "His attitude. His effort. His production. His want-to. He's going to come in here and fit right in."
Charles says he has stayed in touch with Green during the offseason and consulted with him about whether he should come out early and Green advised him that it had to be a family decision.
"What he did teach me was to go hard in every practice; how you practice is how you definitely do in a game," Charles said. "I'm definitely going to be in his pocket trying to work with him and just stay in the film room with him. I definitely have a good tight end I can look up to and (pattern) my game."
Hayes loves Charles's work ethic and had to tell him over the phone to cool his jets. Charles doesn't have to get here until the May 11-13 rookie minicamp. "Essentially it was in my head I would come up there today and start working with some of the guys on the team and start to get familiar with how Andy Dalton throws and hang out with A.J. and try to come in and make an impact in my rookie year," Charles said.
Charles had a blip on his radar last month with a DUI after his pro day, but Hayes said he had no character problems before that and Charles vowed in his conference call with the Cincinnati media, "It will never happen again."
"That might have been the worst thing that ever happened in my life," Charles said. "Just having to explain to my brother and what I did and don't follow in my footsteps. My mom and grandma had to leave work. I just put my family and my fans in a bind. I'm never going to put bad substances in my body because I quickly found out it not only hurt me but everybody else in my family and burdening my church and my fans."
Charles admitted that was a tough conversation with his 11-year-old brother.
"He said he understood," he said. "We've just been talking every day.''