Davis head up in draft

2-22-00 BY GEOFF HOBSON

INDIANAPOLIS _ The most interesting number that may come out of this measurement fest known as the NFL's college scouting combine is the size of the head attached to Texas left tackle Leonard Davis.

He laughed Thursday when an amazed onlooker suddenly blurted, "Anybody ever say anything about how big your head is?"

"All the time," said the affable Davis as he waited in line for what promised to be a big dinner with the other offensive lineman. "What can I say? Big head for a big body. So it's all proportional."

One of the reasons the Bengals are considering taking Davis with the fourth pick in the April 21-22 NFL Draft is those dimensions.

Even his family is big. His mother has 10 children by a previous marriage, his father 11.

When they married, they naturally had a big kid, their 22nd child. But he had the genes. One of his half-brothers, Charles Davis, played for the Steelers. Two others played at Texas Christian.

Leonard is 6-foot-5, but he's pleased people have trouble guessing his weight.

"They say 300 pounds and when I tell them I'm 360, they're in disbelief," Davis said. "I like playing with it. I like being real big, but not fat."

He may not be fat, but he moves like one fat man. Like the late light-on-his-feet Jackie Gleason.

"He was the starting center on his high school state championship basketball team," said Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys scouting master who should know such things.

Brandt still lives in Dallas, which isn't all that far from Davis' home of Wortham, population1,200, where his father has been a preacher and farmer.

"He's like a dancer," Brandt said.

Davis knows he could be dancing in Paul Brown Stadium when the pro ballet opens. But the Bengals are also looking at another left tackle in the first round in Florida's Kenyatta Walker.

NFL insiders don't rate Davis with the current top left tackles, Tony Boselli and Jonathan Ogden. But they've got him in the next tier with

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Orlando Pace and Walter Jones.

"I've been reading they need linemen and it's a possibility I could be their pick," Davis said. "Ickey Woods is about all I know (about the Bengals). It's in Ohio with that cold weather. That's good playing weather for me."

Jim Lippincott, the Bengals' director of pro/college personnel, likes those feet in any weather. He says Davis has the pass-blocking skills the Bengals have lacked at left tackle since the retirement of Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz.

But then, so does Walker.

"He's a powerful, big athlete with quick feet," Lippincott said of Davis. "He can adjust. He'll have to work on not getting beat inside, but that's going to be no problem. He'll be able to do that with experience."

Davis doesn't seem worried about the physical challenges of the NFL.

"I just have to make sure my mind is right for the quickness of the game," he said.

While Davis was escorted from room to room Thursday night to interview with the NFL teams, Bengals offensive line Paul Alexander wasn't too worried about finding out about him.

Last month at the East-West Shrine game, Davis' all-star team was short an offensive line coach and Alexander filled in for a day.

"It was easy. He's dominant," said Alexander, thinking of his own upper tier right tackle, the 340-pound Willie Anderson. "The key for him is his movement. He certainly moved in college. If he can move like Willie can at 365 pounds, he'll be something special."

The one day coaching him, plus film work, has given Alexander a pretty good handle on him.

"He's the type of tackle who can legitimately change the game," Alexander said. "His style is very similar to Willie's. He's a dominant run blocker and in college he's been a shut-down pass blocker."

If the Bengals do draft Davis or Walker with the fourth pick, three won't be company at left tackle. Last month the Bengals extended John Jackson's contract. Rod Jones, in the middle of a three-year, $9 million deal, could be the odd man out under the salary cap.

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