Hobson's Choice: Keep eye on ball

Q: We all know that the Bengals need defensive help more than anything else, but with their first round pick I would love to see the Bengals get Greg Olsen (TE, Miami). If he is there when the Bengals draft do you think they should take him?
--Pete D., Jamestown, OH

PETE: If they opt for a tight end over defense this year, the guy better be Kellen Winslow Sr. Olsen is good, but he's not even Kellen Winslow Jr.

Given who they've signed for how much, it would be insanity if the Bengals walk out of the first day of the draft without taking defense in the first two rounds.

Just remember your state of mind when they lost the last three games and didn't make the playoffs. At any point in that stretch did you shriek, "If they only had a pass catching tight end ... "?

But watching Peyton Manning shoot fish in a barrel, Jay Cutler pull a 99-yard Elway, and Santonio Holmes make the Bengals secondary look absolutely collegiate, they can't take their eye off the ball in the draft.

Sure, it would be great to get a pass-catching tight end, and Olsen is a fast, stretch-the-field guy. But he's not in a Shockey or young Winslow class.

He hasn't shown much of a penchant for blocking and that's something you can't really ignore in this offense. Olsen would be a pretty good fit with the Colts because he can do some of the things Dallas Clark does, but this offense needs a different kind of tight end given their depth at receiver and how they run the ball.

Plus, Olsen just isn't an all-around, every-down player yet and that first-round pick better be a guy that does everything and can do it right away.

(Not to mention help protect Carson Palmer.)

OK, it'd be great to get that kind of tight end at some point. But there are bigger needs keeping this team from the playoffs as they draft this time around.


Q: Are the Bengals really interested in Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel? If they are would they be willing to give up Justin Smith and maybe a fourth-round pick?
--Eddie, Cincinnati, OH

EDDIE: There looks to be no interest on the Bengals' part and as long as Samuel is looking for anything like the $80M Nate Clements deal, there won't be. And the Pats won't trade for a 4-3 end.

Contacted Friday, Alonzo Shavers, Samuel's agent, said it was too early in the process to say either way if any particular team has interest. The problem wouldn't be on agreeing on a trade, it would be getting a contract with Samuel.

One of the reasons is because you'd have to ditch Justin Smith to do a deal and whether you agree with the Bengals or not on tagging Smith for $8.6 million, the evidence is they want him to play for them.

Since they haven't dropped the tag yet to sign Adalius Thomas or trade for Takeo Spikes, don't look for them to do it on Samuel.

And, the Patriots aren't a trading partner for Smith because they would most likely be looking for a tackle to play at end in their 3-4.


Q: How likely would it be to draft Gonzalez, the WR from Ohio State in the second round? That way if C. Henry gets suspended, then the Bengals will have a very solid 3rd WR. I think losing Kevin Walter hurt them last year. He never ducked or was afraid of getting hit. Why didn't they go after Doss? Wouldn't he have upgraded the defense since we lost Kevin K.?
--Mike, Loganville, GA

MIKE: It's not if but when Henry gets suspended and they're still deep enough at receiver that they don't have to do something stupid to replace him. Plus, any pick in the first day not defense should get second and third guessed.

Walter is a good player but guys like Tab Perry and Antonio Chatman are simply better. I can't ever remember saying at any point last season, "If they only had Kevin Walter," even though Perry, Chatman, and Kelley Washington were all hurt. You don't think Perry is tough enough to go over the middle like Walter?

Washington is gone, but the other two, as well as Bennie Brazell and Glenn Holt, are back, so getting a guy like Gonzalez would seem to be needlessly stacking.

Yeah, Doss signing for just $1 million per year raised an eyebrow, but he's a completely different safety than Kaesviharn. He's an in-the-box guy with suspect tackling skills, and he's never healthy. That's exactly what Marvin Lewis is trying to get away from.


Q: When the NFL released their opening weekend prime time schedule, under the headline Monday night lights (again) you said that the entire schedule will be released on April 5. Has this been changed?
--Greg W., Jacksonville, FL

GREG: Yes, the schedule has been delayed for, you guessed it, scheduling reasons. Now the guess is some time next week, but no later than April 19.

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