Paul Alexander got a couple of the projects he likes for his offensive line, while Mike Sheppard was given a surprise wide receiver. Throw in a pair of defensive players for Mike Zimmer and the Bengals came out of Day 3 of the NFL Draft pleased and confident they had accomplished their goals for weekend.
The Bengals used their final five picks of the draft to choose defensive tackle Geno Atkins of Georgia, linebacker Rodderick Muckelroy of Texas, offensive lineman Otis Hudson of Eastern Illinois, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas and, in the seventh round, center Reggie Stephens of Iowa State.
Marvin Lewis said three of the goals of this offseason would be to give quarterback Carson Palmer more weapons for the passing attack, to improve the depth of the interior offensive line and add to the versatility of one of the NFL's top defenses from a season ago. They hit all three areas on Saturday.
"We left the draft feeling really good about being able to fill a lot of the needs of the football team with, as we finished the season, were my perceived goals and thoughts of where we needed to try and improve," said Lewis. "As we go over the next two weeks we'll have a chance to tinker with things, too, before we get to the on-the-field football."
Briscoe may be the most intriguing of the Day 3 group. His 6-2, 207-pound frame helped him pull in 176 receptions for 2,744 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. He averaged 15.6 yards per reception the last two seasons for the Jayhawks but off-field issues scared teams off of him until the Bengals took him with the 191st overall pick.
Briscoe, who skipped his senior year of eligibility to enter the draft, was arrested on a shoplifting charge before his freshman season. He was suspended for last spring's practices and missed Kansas's season opener for violating unspecified team rules. Lewis said the relationship the Bengals have with former Kansas coach Mark Mangino eased answered questions they had regarding the incidents.
Sheppard will have two of the best receivers from the Big 12 at next weekend's rookie minicamp.
"I don't think we were necessarily heading to get a receiver at that point but it jumps out at you when you've got a player ranked that high still available," said Sheppard.
Last year, the Bengals took running back Bernard Scott out of Abilene Christian. Scott had his share of red flags as well but the Bengals selected him at No. 209 and he proved to be an explosive player both as a backup to Cedric Benson and as the team's primary kickoff returner.
Alexander's first entrance into the media room came in the fifth round after the selection of Hudson. The veteran offensive line/assistant head coach did the reporters and cameramen a favor by announcing Hudson's physical attributes since not much was known about him. He wasn't high, or even to be found in some cases, on the various draft sites that abound this time of year.
"His size is exceptional," said Alexander. "I don't know if the numbers mean much or not, but he is a big explosive man with NFL talent."
Hudson will start out playing right guard after playing two seasons at right tackle for Eastern Illinois, while Stephens will be able to play both guard and center.
Atkins and Muckelroy come to the Bengals fitting the bill with more than just their athletic abilities. Both also excelled in the classroom in college. Linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald, who has a master's degree, and Muckelroy hit it off well at the Combine.
"I think we were only supposed to talk for about 5-10 minutes but I think we stayed there for 45 minutes," said Muckelroy, who was a three-year starter for Texas. "We talked about football and family; we talked about everything. I think we started building a pretty good relationship right then."
FitzGerald remembered the conversion equally as well.
"I was trying to get a feel for his football knowledge, and that really lit him up," said FitzGerald. "He was really excited. He was a guy who, all I had to do was ask a couple of questions and it was 'Hey, time's up.' It was one of those deals. He went on and on, and told me about how the defense worked at Texas, and the calls that he made and what he was responsible for. He laid it out pretty completely."
All of which made FitzGerald more than eager for the opportunity to have more conversations with Muckelroy without any time restrictions.