Gambling on a mock

4-21-04, 5:05 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

OK, things you never thought would happen, and Bob Woodward getting more air time this week to defend himself than Mel Kiper Jr., has to lead the list

But how about this? Bengals President Mike Brown's steadfastness in making the Patriots' purring corporate machine blink. The only reason the Bengals got that second-round pick no one thought they would ever get is because Brown threw a hard ball at Boston worthy of Pedro Martinez: It's going to take a second-round pick, or no one is going to get Dillon but us.

And what about this? The Bengals hoarding draft choices like Donald Trump amassing sound bites. Not to mention Marvin Lewis' mentor in Baltimore, Ozzie Newsome. He learned well. Seven picks in the first four rounds, or the same number of picks they had in the entire drafts of 2000 and 2001 and one more pick than they had in the entire 2002 draft.

Maybe Dillon is the last shot of the Patriots' dynasty and those seven picks that include Dillon's 56th are the first flurry of Lewis leading the AFC's next run.

Don't think it will happen?

Of course, one thing you know is every year at this time Bengals.com tries to mock the draft with the help of scribes from across the nation. But you have to go where Gambling is legal, which serves as a hint for the 24th pick.

**

  1. SAN DIEGO _ELI MANNING, QB, Mississippi; Jim Trotter, San Diego Union-Tribune. They passed on John Elway. They passed on Michael Vick. They won't pass on a Manning.
  1. OAKLAND _ ** ROY WILLLIAMS, WR, Texas; Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com. Fresh legs for Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. Better top-end speed than Fitzgerald.

3. ARIZONA _ LARRY FITZGERALD, WR, Pittsburgh; Kent Somers, Arizona Republic. He's got the Denny Green connections as a 12-year-old Viking ball boy and gives Green another Randy Moss-type wideout.

4. GIANTS _ ROBERT GALLERY, OT, Iowa; Peter King, Sports Illustrated. GM Ernie Accorsi is going to faint if he's available. A Tony Boselli clone.

5. WASHINGTON _ KELLEN WINSLOW, TE, Miami of Florida; David Elfin, The Washington Times. Hand-in-glove fit. Owner Dan Snyder loves him, Joe Gibbs coached his father in San Diego, and he was born to be an H-Back in this offense.

6. DETROIT _ SEAN TAYLOR, S, Miami of Florida; Mike O'Hara, The Detroit News. The Lions were last in NFL offense, but Taylor is a potential perennial Pro Bowler.

7. CLEVELAND _ DeANGELO HALL, CB, Virginia Tech; Tony Grossi, The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Worst-case scenario for the Browns, who covet Gallery, Winslow, and Taylor. They could trade up a spot to get one of them, or even trade back. But Hall is the dynamic returner they need with the loss of Dennis Northcutt. **

  1. ATLANTA _ ** VINCE WILFORK, DT, Miami of Florida; Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com. The Falcons take a blow with Hall off the board. But their rush defense was fourth worst in the league on an overall unit that finished last.

9. JACKSONVILLE _ WILL SMITH, DE, Ohio State; Vito Stellino, The Florida Times-Union. The Jags had the second-fewest sacks in the AFC last year with 24 and still finished sixth in the league in defense.

10. HOUSTON _ DUNTA ROBINSON, CB, South Carolina; Pete Prisco, CBSSportsline.com. The Bengals were 11-for-18 on third-down conversions when they played the Texans.

11. PITTSBURGH _ PHILIP RIVERS, QB, North Carolina State; Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Want to see Mark Malone get in the same sentence with Rivers? The last time the Steelers picked a quarterback No. 1 was 24 years ago. It's time and how can Bill Cowher pass on a fellow Wolfpack product? **

  1. JETS _ JONATHAN VILMA, LB, Miami of Florida; Rich Cimini, New York Daily News. If Hall and Robinson aren't there, they may try to bail out here, figuring they can trade back slightly and get Vilma or teammate D.J. Williams.
  1. BUFFALO _ ** BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB, Miami of Ohio; Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News. Ah, just remember the Drew Bledsoe euphoria of two drafts and 14 wins ago? Now the heat is on to take a quarterback. If the top three are gone by now, keep an eye on a wide receiver.

14. CHICAGO _ KENECHE UDEZE, DE, USC; Don Pierson, Chicago Tribune. The Bears had a NFL-low 18 sacks last season and are seeking speed on the edge at either end, or, if not, at linebacker with D.J. Williams.

15. TAMPA BAY _ D.J. WILLIAMS, LB, Miami of Florida; Chris Harry, Orlando Sentinel. They've only got three linebackers and one is an undrafted free agent. They're infusing the defense everywhere else and they need an energized playmaker like Williams. Or, if Vilma is still there, they could put him in the middle and move Shelton Quarles outside.

16. SAN FRANCISCO _ TOMMIE HARRIS, DT, Oklahoma; Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The thinking is they want to trade back and get a wide receiver (Rashaun Woods?) to start off the post –Terrell Owens era. But they don't have a third defensive tackle, Bryant Young is 32, and they lost the Bengals game despite scoring 38 points when Rudi Johnson ripped off nearly a first down per carry. **

  1. DENVER _ STEVE JACKSON, RB, Oregon State; Lynn DeBruin, Rocky Mountain News. There are two schools of thought why the Broncos swapped the 24th pick with the Bengals to move up here. One is to get ahead of New England and Dallas to pick a running back. The other is to get in position to get Vilma or D.J. Williams, or a receiver. Although the Broncos have made Pro Bowlers out of second day running backs, Jackson is the highest rated back and hard to pass up here.
  1. NEW ORLEANS _ MICHAEL CLAYTON, WR, LSU; Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Times-Picayune. The Saints would view this as a disaster because they are looking for anything on defense and they hope at least one of the top two cornerbacks, linebackers, tackles, or ends is going to be there. But the hometowner Clayton is a great catch. He's a complete wideout who is about a tick away in the 40 from being a top ten guy.
  1. MINNESOTA _ REGGIE WILLIAMS WR, Washington; Bill Williamson, (St. Paul) Pioneer-Press. The Vikes need defense (hello, Arizona) and they will talk about Shawn Andrews, but they can't pass on a big, potential dominating receiver to pair with Randy Moss.
  1. MIAMI _ SHAWN ANDREWS, OT, Arkansas; Alex Marvez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. They feel Andrews is clearly the second best offensive lineman in the draft and that there is a significant gap until the next one. This is another club that might try to trade back.
  1. NEW ENGLAND _ RANDY STARKS, DT, Maryland; Ron Borges, Boston Globe. No running back needed now, but a nose tackle is with Ted Washington gone. Keith Traylor is back, but he's no Washington, and Ty Warren is back, but he's no Traylor, and Dan Klecko is back, but he's no Warren. So the hope is Starks is the next Washington.
  1. DALLAS _ KEVIN JONES, RB, Virginia Tech; Todd Archer, Dallas Morning News. They were never really hot for Dillon because they didn't think he could break a lot of long runs. Jones can.
  1. SEATTLE _ MARCUS TUBBS, DT, Texas; Mike Sando, Tacoma News Tribune. Just a shot here because the Seahawks almost always take the best player and not for position. They took Steve Hutchinson when they didn't need a guard and running back Shaun Alexander when they had Ricky Watters. But they are thin at D-Tackle. They've lost Chad Eaton, Norman Hand, and John Randle in the last year and haven't picked one No. 1 since Sam Adams 10 years ago.
  1. CINCINNATI _ ** CB CHRIS GAMBLE, CB, Ohio State. Sure , we're like Seattle. We don't know what they're going to do here because in his first draft last year head coach Marvin Lewis showed a penchant for taking the best player and there are some good ones here at wide receiver and running back.

But if you're taking a shot in the dark, Gamble is as good anything else for a flier. They should treat this first-round pick like a freebie, a bonus, a mulligan, a guys-night-out where they can do no wrong.

You've got six more picks in the first four rounds. Plenty of time to get a center, a linebacker, a safety, a third quarterback, and maybe even a D-Tackle if you think you need one with Daryl Gardener apparently in the fold.

And, maybe even another cornerback. So taking a Gamble with Gamble here is perfect. That's the beauty of the Deltha O'Neal trade. You don't have to rush him like Artrell Hawkins, Charles Fisher, and Mark Roman.

The kid won't be ready right away because he has only played defense for a year and a half. But some committee of Terrell Roberts, Reggie Myles, and Alvin Porter should be able to hold down the third corner spot until he's ready. Or, if not, take another corner in the second or third round.

For now, to heck with technique. Gamble is the perfect size (6-1, 200) and blend of athlete for the position in the early 21st century. Kick back, relax, have a cold one, shake Gamble's hand, dream he realizes his Pro Bowl potential, and go to work for the 49th pick.

25.GREEN BAY _ J.P. LOSMAN, QB, Tulane; Peter King, Sports Illustrated. A perfect long-term replacement for Brett Favre. And he even comes from down on the Bayou. **

  1. ST. LOUIS _ ** GREG JONES, RB, Florida State; Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With 21 of 22 starters back, they're so wide open. With defensive end Grant Wistrom gone, they may be tempted in a similar guy in Western Michigan's Jason Babin. But, yes, it's been 10 years since the Bengals took Dan Wilkinson over Marshall Faulk, and Faulk is coming off another off-season procedure as the tread gets thinner.

27. TENNESSEE _ BEN TROUPE, TE, Florida; Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean. They need defensive line help here, but they've brought the athletic , impressive Troupe into visit and he's probably the best guy at this spot. Frank Wycheck's retirement also makes it a fit. **

  1. PHILADELPHIA _ *AHMAD CARROLL, CB, Arkansas; Dave Spadaro, philadelphiaeagles.com. The departures of long-time corners Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor have the Eagles preying again. *
  1. INDIANAPOLIS _ KARLOS DANSBY, LB, Auburn; Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star. Dansby could go now or in the second, but if the Colts have him rated here, they would probably take him because of the loss of strong-side backer Marcus Washington.
  1. KANSAS CITY _ IGOR OLSHANSKY, DT Oregon; Don Banks, Sports Illustrated. He's shooting up the board and the memories of the Chiefs' defense losing that pick-up basketball game against the Colts in the playoffs is fresh in the memory.
  1. CAROLINA _ ** MICHAEL JENKINS, WR, Ohio State; Pat Yasinskas, Charlotte Observer. The Panthers need a younger big-time, big-play, just plain big receiver to work opposite the 5-9 Steve Smith.

32. NEW ENGLAND _ CHRIS SNEE, G, Boston College; Ron Borges, Boston Globe. The Pats have to change the guard with Damien Woody and Mike Compton gone and Joe Andruzzi constantly hurt. They love to drive over to Newton to get their linemen. They took BC center Dan Koppen in the fifth round last year and he started the Super Bowl.

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