Dillon seeks Cleveland visit

4-23-01, 2:00 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Corey Dillon's agent said after this weekend's NFL Draft he plans to contact the Cleveland Browns Monday or Tuesday about setting up a visit for his client.

The Browns took Miami running back James Jackson in the third round, but David Dunn said Sunday night, "I don't think that's a high enough pick to get them off Corey."

Bengals President Mike Brown isn't so sure, since Jackson played for Browns coach Butch Davis at Miami.

"He's a pretty good back," Brown said. "When they ran the tape on ESPN after they picked him, I wished they hadn't. Maybe that's what they want there. I don't know."

All Brown knows in his effort to match any deal for Dillon, "we'll hold (some of the salary) cap in reserve to protect us. . .We plan to have him here. We think that it can get done. I wish I knew when."

DEFENSE RESTS: Wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian said the addition of three assistant coaches boosted the Bengals' college scouting and made it the smoothest and most productive draft of his three seasons.

"We pretty much had two sets of eyes on each position," Mooshagian said. "It was like hiring more scouts."....

Offensive assistant John Garrett helped out mainly on wide receivers and quarterbacks, but contributed at other spots. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski could serve as a cross-checker for Mooshagian and Garrett, while new cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle split up the defensive backs with safeties coach Ray Horton.

"I think we do pretty well. I know it's not so difficult to blame the way we've drafted," said Brown, excoriated for keeping the smallest personnel staff in the league. "But I look around the league and see the same things in most of the other cities. It's the lay of the land. When you look at the numbers, we've brought as many people into the league and on to our team except all but a couple of teams. We're doing all right."

Brown referred to last week's "USA Today," survey that showed in the last five years the Bengals have kept 69 percent of their draft picks, second of all NFL teams excluding expansion Cleveland. The Bengals are third with 79 percent of those picks still in the league.

"Some things happened that we wish hadn't had happened," Brown said. "We wished Ki-Jana hadn't got hurt. We wished a quarterback or two had been a little stronger in their performance. But talk to the other teams. It all didn't go smoothly for them always, either. I don't think we go about it badly at all. I think the way we go about it is pretty effective."

Brown referred to a book in which the Bengals rate where they expect players to be chosen and where they actually end up going.

"The only one they didn't have is our fourth-round pick," said Brown of Auburn running back Rudi Johnson. "It's a guess in a point in time and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't work out. But I will argue with (the print media), we're as much on target as the others are."

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MIKE's MAKE:** Whenever a team passed Purdue quarterback Drew Brees that could have taken him (Miami at No. 26?), Brown would assure the room that the Chargers would take him just before the Bengals picked in the second round and they would be spared a discussion about putting Brees in an already intriguing mix at No. 36. And he was right.

"The guy in San Diego did a great job," said Brown of new Chargers General Manager John Butler. "Brees may be better than the guy he traded away (in Michael Vick). Some people think that. He got who we felt was the best runner in the draft (in LaDanian Tomlinson). . .and other stuff besides that...

"He was dealt a hand and he played it well," Brown said. "But sometimes you aren't dealt a hand with a full house or four of a kind."

Of his own picks, Brown said Oregon State receiver Chad Johnson looks a lot like Darnay Scott on tape at this stage of his career. And he said Auburn running back Rudi Johnson's legs are so powerful, it's as if they are made of lead.

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WRESTLEMANIA II:** Defensive line coach Tim Krumrie has become a media darling in the wake of the drafting of Justin Smith No. 1. When he worked out Smith at Missouri, Krumrie gave him his typical wrestling drill, which is usually a battle to the death.

When the media found out fifth-round pick Victor Leyva, an Arizona State guard, was 47-2 as California's top-ranked heavyweight wrestler as a high school senior, offensive line coach Paul Alexander was asked if he wrestled Leyva.

"No," Alexander said. "He would annihilate me, trust me."

Asked if Krumrie wrestled Leyva, Alexander said, "That would be a good match. I'd like to see that. But Krum's got more savvy. I think. I'd still go with Krumrie over just about anyone I know."

Alexander has his own workout style with a bag to judge guys, which he toned down for Leyva: "When I'm rushing at the guy, there's a feeling that you have in your stomach, a fear element. He measures high on that scale. I was not real willing to run into him."

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OLD HOME WEEK:** The toughest thing about taking Toura (TJ) Houshmandzadeh of Oregon State in the seventh round was spelling the name over the phone to draft headquarters n New York.

The Bengals had a big handle on him. His head coach was Dennis Erickson, a man Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has worked for at three places. As the pick neared,

Bratkowski slipped into the office of director of pro/college personnel Jim Lippincott to double check with Erickson about him.

Plus, Houshmandzadeh played junior college ball at the same place (Cerritos College) and had the same coach (Frank Mazzotta) as Mooshagian. In fact, Mooshagian tried to recruit the 6-2, 205-pound Houshmandzadeh to Pittsburgh out of Cerritos.

"He's a big guy that can run and he's tough," Mooshagian said, "and he can help you on special teams."

He returned punts for a 10-yard average and kicks for a 25-yard average.

Houshmandzadeh, out of Barstow, Calif., said his lengthy name comes from his Iranian father.

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