7:45 p.m. A few dates to watch as the Bengals close in on the draft and the ensuing on-field workouts: **
March 22-25:** NFL annual league
league meetings in Dana Point, Calif., where the Bengals' 13-13 tie against the Eagles back in November is going to be rehashed and regurgitated as overtime no doubt gets hotly debated. With The Chicago Sun-Times reporting that the Bengals are actively shopping left tackle Levi Jones, this could be a week it gets done. The gamble for a team would be if the draft doesn't break the right way for the Bengals and they decide not to cut him. **
March 23:** During the Monday afternoon session of the meetings, the NFL usually releases the compensatory draft picks.
With the Bengals having a net loss of five players in 2008 unrestricted free agency (Justin Smith, Madieu Williams, Landon Johnson, Bryan Robinson and Alex Stepanovich) on top of signing Antwan Odom, the Bengals could get as many as the maximum of four.
Best-case scenario? A third-rounder, sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders. Worst case? A fourth and a seventh.
It all depends on a byzantine formula that takes into consideration playing time, pay and postseason awards. Because Smith signed such a big deal, all indications are the Bengals will get a third-rounder for him. It would be a bit fitting they would get a compensatory for Johnson even if it is just a sixth. The Bengals took him with the extra third-rounder (No. 96 in 2004) they got for losing Takeo Spikes in 2003. **
March 30:The first day of offseason workouts at Paul Brown Stadium. Anybody who has been asked (including Chad Ocho Cinco) has said he is going to show. The Ocho hasn't been available for comment since T.J. Houshmandzadeh signed with Seattle and the Bengals signed Laveranues Coles, but before that he said he was a go. Middle linebacker Dhani Jones, who has been tackling the globe for the Travel Channel, has said he'll be there but maybe not right away.
April 6:Give or take a few days, this is about the time the Bengals start bringing in college prospects to visit at Paul Brown Stadium. They are allowed 30 visits, but all of them won't be auditioning for the No. 6 pick. Some are players that weren't invited to the scouting combine and the Bengals need to take their physicals. Others could be possible free agents if they're not drafted and the team can start the recruiting pitch a few weeks early.
April 14:First guess on when the NFL schedule is released. It was released on Tuesday, April 15 last year and the 14th is the second Tuesday in April this trip. One thing we do know is it starts with an easier sked off the previous season. This year the Bengals have the 11th easiest schedule in the league with foes going a combined .467 last season. Last year they had the sixth hardest at .547.
April 25, roughly 5:50 p.m.:When the Bengals should be making their first pick now that the start of the draft has moved to 4 p.m.
April 26:When the Bengals could have as many as nine picks in the last five rounds of the draft if they max out the compensatories.
May 1 (tentative):Debut of the No. 6 pick on the field in the rookie minicamp, which in the past couple of years has started the Friday after the draft.
May 12 or May 19:** Another Carson Comeback in the first practice of the voluntaries. There's not nearly the angst surrounding the comeback from his elbow injury as there was about his knee three years ago. Probably because he was gunning the ball the last couple of weeks of last season.