People are going to have some fun with this pick.
How about a tall, talented wide receiver who is a real blazer, but doesn't have much Division I experience and is prone to emotional outbursts? In the 2001 draft, the Bengals ended up parlaying that into two-time Pro Bowler Chad Johnson. Can they do that in 2005 with third-rounder Chris Henry out of West Virginia, another Bengals receiver in the mold of Johnson, Carl Pickens, Darnay Scott, and Cris Collinsworth with first-round talent but didn't go in the first round?
"He's big and he can run and he scores touchdowns. I can't wait to coach him," said the man who will, receivers coach Hue Jackson.
Jackson made sure that when the Bengals brought Henry in for a visit about 10 days before the draft, whoever had to meet him in the organization got a chance to meet a kid that came in labeled as uncoachable and unfocused. He met with Bengals president Mike Brown. He met with Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. He met with scouts. Jackson had him over to his home and he took him to a comedy club one night along with Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
"I'm very comfortable with this young man," Jackson said.
This is a pick that might not have come off in other organizations because the Bengals coaches are so involved in the process, and Jackson embraced the opportunity from the get-go. He couldn't believe that the Bengals were the only team showing any kind of of interest, and they finally figured out a few days before the draft that they would have no problem getting him in the second round.
Imagine how they felt, then, when he was still there in the third round after they switched gears to take Georgia linebacker Odell Thurman. Late Saturday night, Jackson was still perplexed how you could still get a guy that runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, is 6-4, and has a 37-inch vertical leap with the 83rd pick. Yes, there are concerns about his on-field behavior, but the Bengals were the only team that brought him in for a visit and he felt that's when he got the answers he needed.
"You know how it is. Your reputation precedes you," Jackson said. "I'm glad Mr. Brown and Marvin did the extra homework. I was able to sit there and ask him the tough questions about the things we want to know. I've got a relationship with him that has already started."
The questions in question are that he didn't gave the grades coming out of high school in New Orleans to play as a freshman (remember, Johnson went to junior college), and last year he blew up with two unsportsmanlike penalties. When he finished it off by giving the finger to the Rutgers crowd, he got suspended for a half of the next game. It capped off a tough run with some teammates and coaches.
"That stuff is just stupid, man," Rasheed Marshall, his quarterback, reportedly said. "I try to talk to him all the time. Sometimes, he listens and other times he just goes and does his own thing."
Henry knew he had to give the Bengals his side of the story, and Lewis insists that he has players now who had more problems than Henry early on.
"Coach (Lewis) really understands," Henry said. "He said he's just trying to help me out and mature a little bit more and learn from my mistakes.
"I'm really not a bad guy like they make me out to be," Henry said. "I don't have an attitude problem. When I'm playing ball, I'm really into the game. Sometimes, I got a little too much into the game. I learned from my mistakes. I don't think it's a fair criticism, because I'm very coachable, I love learning new things. I just try to do what the coach wants me to do."
He's a tall receiver who plays in West Virginia, so he has heard the Randy Moss comparisons.
"I really look up to Chad. He's one of the best receivers in the league right now," Henry said.
In his two seasons, Jackson loves the fact Henry scored 12 TDs last year and averaged nearly 25 yards per catch as a sophomore. He believes the speed and size is so rare that it will make him a playmaker in a league decided by playmakers. He has heard the knocks: Inconsistent. Won't block. Raw.
"I don't see that kind of inconsistency. There is some inconsistency as far as blocking, but if you watch every receiver in this draft they need consistency in that area," Jackson said.
"I don't think there's anything he couldn't do."