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Hobson's Choice: Better to receive

Q: Since the Chris Henry situation, it's been widely stated our beloved Bengals are going to have to address the WR position in the draft sooner than they had planned. Please ask Jerry Jones or your "inside man" how a kid from Kansas State, Jordy Nelson, might work with Carson and the WR corps. I've read where he might fall to the third or fourth round. Six-3, 217 pounds and runs a 4.51 40. One publication said he's the kid you'd like your daughter to marry! (Don't know if you have a daughter). No lie, I still have the publication!
--Mental M., Pleasant Ridge,OH

MENTAL When you can count your receivers from last year on the fingers of a one-handed catch, you could take one early, one middle, and one late in this draft. So everyone is on the board.

The Bengals are clearly looking at receiver. An Oklahoma newspaper has reported they are importing Sooners wide receiver Malcolm Kelly into Cincinnati immediately following his workout for a pre-draft visit this week as they peruse the picks at No. 9. Kelly's agent, Chad Speck, who got some nice deals for former Bengals receiver Kelley Washington in New England, is adamant that his client's quad problem is going to be fine, he has the paperwork to prove it, and he's going in the top 10 or very near it.

As for Nelson, he wouldn't drop to three or four. That's where he's supposed to go. Ourlads Scouting Services has him ticketed to Buffalo in the third round at No. 71, six picks before they have the Bengals taking Virginia Tech wide receiver Josh Morgan.

The Bengals like Nelson's smarts and possibilities he would bring as a punt returner. The scouts at Pro Football Weekly aren't enamored with his speed or route running, but he was a stud sprinter in high school back in Kansas, where he was also the long jump champ.

He sounds a little like Danny Farmer and he was the kind of guy you wanted to take home, too, for the prom. But Farmer didn't make it, although he caught a bad break early with an ankle and this guy seems more versatile with more NFL production in his DNA. Yeah, he'd be a good get.

Bouncing Billy B., out of Cincinnati has the same thoughts:

"One wide receiver I've had on my radar since last fall is Marcus Henry of Kansas. When I saw him play I thought "That's Chris Henry!", and while he doesn't have Chris Henry's speed (he's listed with a 4.6 40 time), he's got his size at 6-4. Any thoughts on him?"

Someone said if you watch Chris Henry and Marcus Henry walk away from you down the hall, you couldn't tell the difference. Except Chris' nickname is "Slim," which now describes his chances to play this season. And Marcus' nickname is "Mute," which is probably a good thing because he never says anything and has the rep of a hard worker.

He can catch and he can make plays on the ball with his long arms, they say, but he doesn't have Henry's ability to separate from coverage. At least two draft publications don't have him getting drafted, ostensibly because of that 4.61, and there is some question if he can play special teams. But Marcus has things the Bengals value in a wide receiver—height, hands, hard work—not to mention toughness over the middle.

Q: The more I think about it I like Clady if we have NO defensive options at 9, if Clady is indeed there. Let him sit and learn this year and he steps in at right tackle next year (pending on Willie's situation). As you know, Andrews' deal is only one year and will cost a lot more against the cap to re-sign him next year than Clady's rookie contract.
--Steven K., West Palm Beach, FL

STEVEN: No, no. That would make me sicker than John Calipari. You've already got your two backup tackles trained and ready to go in Stacy Andrews and Andrew Whitworth. The ninth pick in the draft can't sit. He has to help you immediately. Right now. On May 2, first day of rookie minicamp.

The same answer has to go to Aaron D., of Franklin, OH in his trade proposal.

"What do you think about trading Stacey Andrews, one of our third-round picks and a fifth? Or even Andrews, our first and third? Anything to the Chiefs to get a good D-lineman like Ellis or Gholston. The latest NFL mock has the Chiefs drafting a tackle anyway, so they get a starting tackle and some picks and we get a PRIZED D-Lineman. It's PERFECT!"

I like you, Aaron, but it's so far from perfect that it is Hillary Clinton and John McCain doing an E-Harmony commercial.

Ellis could be there, anyway, at No. 9, and if you wanted to trade up, it would only probably take your third-rounder at No. 77 and not a player as well.

Plus, in my mind, the impulse to just discard Andrews makes no sense. He's a mere 26, wondrously athletic, they've poured four years of coaching into him, and he would have been one of the first free agents off the market if the Bengals didn't franchise him. The goal is to get him signed long-term to lower the cap number.

Clady, who is a left tackle at 310 pounds, is going to be a fine player. But why start from scratch when you've already got two young guys in the fold and you need help in so many other places?

Getting Ellis would be outstanding, but to lose that third-round pick to go up and get him (they can only trade their own and not the compensatory of No. 97), is to probably trade away a starting receiver or running back, so I'm not sure that's worth it if the guy could be there anyway.

Q: Come on Geoff, take this question, you always take the easy ones. Why would an organization that's had so much trouble with players of questionable character invite a guy like Jason Shirley to visit the team? Haven't we gone through enough of this? Isn't the fact that Shirley was suspended twice in 2007, had two DUIs, and drove his car into a building enough of a clue that he might be a problem down the line? I ask the following question with the utmost respect: Is Mike Brown stubborn or just plain stupid?
--Steve B., Florence, KY

STEVE B.: I tend to agree with you about making the invite. But it shows when things blow up on you, you can't win. They've been getting ripped for not doing their homework on the character issue, and yet they don't get their due for doing due diligence.

They did the same thing back in '05 when they hosted Chris Henry and Odell Thurman for pre-draft visits, and they still took a roll of the dice that got them snake-bitten instead of snake eyes.

Why would they do it again? Other than the fact he is a 6-5, 340-pound defensive tackle from Fresno State that showed his massive upside in the Texas vs. Nation all-star game, I have no earthly idea.

I do know this: If they didn't check him out, and the Ravens ended up taking him in the seventh round, and the first time the Bengals rushed for 1.9 yards against him, their small scouting staff would be burnt in cyberspace effigy.

"They probably didn't even know about that guy," would be the rip.

Now, if the guy doesn't show up with wings and a harp, it'd be tough to take him. For this franchise. And for clubs like the Jaguars, Titans, Vikings and Steelers that have also had off-field issues.

I think we can all agree Mike Brown is not stupid. As for stubborn, he's obviously allowed things to be put in place to help put the skids on the '06 crime spree.

Until Henry got arrested last week, they had one guy arrested in 15 months. That was A.J. Nicholson and he, like Henry, was cut within hours of the court appearance. So, stupid and stubborn?

Wrong call.

For every Henry, here is a Willie Anderson feeding the hungry on holidays. Or a Rudi Johnson clothing the poor in the winter. or John Thornton reaching out to families of autistic children. Or a Carson Palmer helping abused children. Or a Frostee Rucker befriending a dying child.

But, to your point, any time you think of even signing a guy with nicks, it takes away from the decent guys and good deeds.

Yet I'm not sure you can rip them for doing diligence, either, to try to find out for themselves about the guy.

Come on yourself, Steve. I answer tough questions, too. What about the guy last week that was ripping Bengaldom?

Always capitalized, by the way.

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