Hobson's Choice: Going to the Matt

What are the possibilities of the Bengals drafting the QB turned WR/TE from Arkansas, Matt Jones after the first round?

He measures out at a monster sized 6-6 1/4, 242lbs along with 4.37 speed and 40 inch vertical. I mean this guy is a stud, and the Bengals offense would give any team's secondary nightmares. Just try to cover this guy along with our core of recievers, you can't! I honestly think he can be something special and has as much, if not more upside than TE Kellen Winslow Jr. of the Browns.

I know that he's somewhat of a project considering that he's moving to a new postion in the NFL, but i think he could possibly develop into the type of gamebreaking tight end the bengals always wanted. Add to the fact that this guy played QB in college, and i'm sure coach Brat can dream up some pretty creative plays with this offense.
** Don San Diego, CA

DON:** Great question and after the don't-take-the-un-Marvin-Travis-Johnson, Matt Jones has received the most attention from Bengaldom, and he's not even going anywhere near the first round. I love the guy, especially after talking to him at the Senior Bowl (think Danny Farmer California cool with kind of a Bill Clinton I'll-play-hard-despite-my-pain accent), but I just don't see them doing it. This team hasn't missed the playoffs the last two years because they were lacking Todd Heap at tight end.

They love the way Jones runs (and he made one of the truly great one-handed catches during a Senior Bowl practice), and, you're right, his measurables are Halle Berry out of this world. A 242-pound guy that runs 4.4 seconds? Ridiculous.

But where do they play him? He's never played tight end and he's a lean guy who doesn't look to be all that physical, so you'll have to teach him how to block. Hey, you'll have to teach him how to do everything. That's what a projection is. A project. Maybe if they had a couple of extra second-day picks later in the draft that they could groom like last year (Matthias Askew, Stacy Andrews), but they don't. And Jones will most likely go in the third round because of his speed.

But that team will be taking a chance, a chance the Bengals can't afford on the first day. By the end of the third round, they better have addressed what may be a need for a middle linebacker, as well as a center, and don't they need a big safety? This club didn't go to the playoffs last year because Jamal Lewis (186 yards), Jerome Bettis (129) and Duce Staley (123) dominated three wins by Baltimore and Pittsburgh on the ground.

They've got no room to toy with a guy that could be, who knows, eventually an H-Back.

Problem is, the Bengals don't use an H-Back. Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski prefers to attack with three and four wide receivers in an effort to get the thing vertical quickly. Particularly with quarterback Carson Palmer's ability to throw the long ball.

Plus, I think if running back Chris Perry is healthy, you won't hear a peep out of Bengaldom concerning a tight end by the halfway point of next season. By then, if he's as good as they say in the passing game, he ought to have about 20 catches and broken about four or five third-down passes by making people miss.

By the way, people really ought to get off that kid's back. They act like Perry has dogged it through four seasons and stolen more money than Enron. It's been just one year, kids. And, one of the reasons the deep abdominal pull or sports hernia or whatever you want to call the thing never got better is because he kept trying to come back and play.

Maybe Jones will be Todd Heap. But the Bengals can't wait around and find out with an offense that is good enough right now to go to the playoffs with a little help from its friend on the other side.

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