Q: Will the Bengals consider using a fourth-round pick or later on cornerback Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft? The Bengals should be receiving three to four compensatory picks in the 2008 draft, including a third-rounder for losing Steinbach. They have Joseph and Hall as their projected starters for 2008 and beyond (maybe sooner if O'Neal doesn't play better or tries to force a trade), Ratliff and Greg Brooks will be free agents after this year and Brooks has been injury prone. Blue Adams is a journeyman at best. It seems like Oliver would potentially be a decent investment with a fourth-round pick or later as a potential nickel/dime back. Your thoughts?
--Rich, Tampa, FL
RICH: If the Bengals do delve into the supplemental draft again, Oliver figures to be the guy they'd pursue out of this class. Believe that any competent defender with a pulse such as Oliver is going to get some consideration and Ahmad Brooks is proof they'll pull the trigger.
There's a big difference between Oliver this year and Brooks last year in the sense that when the Bengals used a third-rounder on Brooks in last year's supplemental draft it immediately became clear why because the selection smoked out the NFL's four-game suspension of middle linebacker Odell Thurman.
They obviously felt like they had a desperate need in the middle and the supplemental was the last stop to get anything resembling a potential starter for '06. With O'Neal, Joseph and Hall, they certainly don't have that same crying need.
Plus, the Bengals and the rest of the NFL have to put Oliver through the same paces. Remember, Brooks was a highly ballyhooed and unique athlete coming out of Virginia who would have been a first-rounder back in April. It remains to be seen if Oliver hits that standard.
O'Neal hasn't been able to force anything but ire from his head coach, never mind a trade, so you have to figure he's going to be here. If he's trying to force a trade, he certainly didn't use the scorched earth policy of Asante Samuel, Alan Faneca and Lance Briggs by showing up at the mandatory camp and saying all the right things.
By the time he arrived here for training camp, Oliver would be far behind and you'd have to wonder if he could help at all this year with the 85 NFL games shared by Ratliff and Adams behind the first three. If they think Oliver can play, it'd be a nice move but it would probably be a move for 2008 because he wouldn't be putting out any fires like Brooks did.
But, you're right about all the compensatory picks they figure to get in '08, so maybe roll one out for the future next month. Taking a guy like Oliver now would be comparable to taking down-the-road guys like Stacy Andrews and Robert Geathers in a 2004 draft they had four extra picks.
By the way, as of Wednesday afternoon here is where the NFL stands on signing draft picks:
The Bengals are one of 14 teams that haven't signed any picks. The only AFC North team that has signed a draft choice is the Steelers with three in the fold.
Q: Do you anticipate the NFLPA to file a grievance with the Bears over the release of Tank Johnson? Did they violate the CBA by waiving him for his off-field issues and not his play on the field? If the Bears were able to waive Johnson, do you think the Bengals would consider waiving Chris Henry should he have another off field issue?
--Dan P., Mason, Ohio
DAN: Since Kenesaw Mountain Goodell (and that's a compliment) iced Pacman and Henry back in April, the NFLPA has done a total 180 worthy of Kobe and backed off any kind of grievances relating to conduct.
Until that point, it was a given the NFLPA would cite the CBA (very hazy on the matter anyway) and go after teams that cut players for any reason but talent. Now, in getting on board with Goodell's iron stance on discipline, the union isn't looking to be on the wrong side of the issue and the commissioner's people are saying things like it's a contractual matter between the player and team.
So, no, it's highly doubtful the NFLPA is going to press the Tank release. If Johnson does it on his own, the NFLPA would probably help him with the case but they wouldn't be a fanatic about it.
And, let's face it. You have to congratulate Goodell on his aggressiveness. The Bengals shed light on the new day just last month when they cut linebacker A.J. Nicholson just hours after he pleaded not guilty in a domestic violence situation, something they never would have done in the pre-Goodell era.
As for Henry, does it matter? Goodell has basically said that he'll be banished with another wrong move, so it's just semantics. It sounds like the NFL would be doing the waving and waiving.