Hobson's Choice: thank you notes and thankless jobs

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When the Bengals introduced Giovani Bernard the day after they drafted him, it was his second visit to PBS in a matter of weeks.

If the ILB from Mississippi St. is there in the second round or a WR is there which way do you see the Bengals going and why?  Sean Slaughter, Cincinnati, OH

SEAN: The 250-pound Benardrick McKinney has AFC North size, but the Bengals need some wheels at receiver. Those are tougher to get in the second round than middle backers. I say they go wide receiver.

Hey Geoff when are the Bengals going to start addressing TE? This is an awfully thin draft for TE's and we seem to need to add 2 before training camp. After all all we have is an oft injured Eifert and a bare cupboard after that. Are we going to draft 2 TE's like Koyak and Heurman or maybe 1 and an Alex Smith / Anthony Fasano type? Brian Lofland, Cincinnati, OH

BRIAN: If there was a Smith/Fasano type available, he'd be the first tight end taken in this draft and it would probably be too high for the Bengals. I think the Bengals draft a guy (before the fifth round) and then try to sign one in pro or college free agency.

From what I read, Ohio State's Heuerman would be the better fit because Notre Dame's Koyack supposedly needs seasoning in the weight room. Heuerman comes out of a pro offense and is used to blocking and that's what the Bengals are looking for out of that spot. A guy ready to do more of the thankless job of in-line blocking than catching the ball. And at 6-5, 255, he's long enough.

Hi Geoff, I enjoy all your articles! Thanks for keeping us up to date during the off-season. And not just writing anything, but your track record shows you have a good read on what the Bengals are doing and thinking. My question is whether you have and can publish a list of what (key) draft prospects' pro-days the Bengals scouts and coaches have been to? And maybe which ones high ranking coaches/coordinators have visited, since it sort of measures potential interest, e.g., Marvin Lewis personally visited Gio Bernard's Pro Day. Thanks. Peter Neefus, Virginia Beach, VA

PETER: Thank you. As you can well imagine, the coaches try to keep that under wraps and melt into a wall whenever they're there on campus for obvious reasons.

But even with a computerized itinerary it's hard to get a grip on who they like because the big boys, the head coach and coordinators, hit enough of them to keep you guessing. Certainly Marvin is a red flag no matter where he goes, but for every Gio Bernard workout he attended, he probably went to five where they didn't draft anybody.

 For instance, Lewis went to Kentucky defensive end/outside linebacker Bud Dupree's pro day Monday in Lexington where Bengals line coach Jay Hayes ran the drills even though most Mocks have Dupree done by No. 21.  But it's the old due diligence.

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What about another big hitting safety joining George Iloka (above) and Reggie Nelson.

I enjoy your postings, Geoff. Keep up the good work. I think the recent additions for the defensive line have opened the door for a BPA draft (although a tackle for the future is a need at this point). With that in mind, I wonder if Landon Collins might drop to the Bengals as Eifert did a couple years ago. I would cheer his selection if the opportunity arose. Doug Nilsen, Marietta, GA

DOUG: Thank you and I agree with you. I would love to see Collins land here. It makes so much sense. They obviously covet Alabama guys and have taken two in the first round since '09. Both starting safeties, Reggie Nelson and George Iloka, are in the last year of their deals, and Collins is an AFC North hitter.

And while they love the Eifert pick, they were drooling all over LSU safety Eric Reid until the 49ers took him at No. 18. Now they could have both Eifert and a big-time safety. But the latest Bengals.com Media Mock has Collins going just ahead of the Bengals at No. 20 to Philly.

We are officially knee deep in NFL Draft mock season. It made me curious as to the official visits/meetings the Bengals have had so far? Is it true they are limited to 60 meetings? Of our draft picks the last couple of years, did we have visits/meetings with all of them? Thanks Beau Christopher, Los Angeles, CA

BEAU: The 60 is the number of prospects teams can interview at February's NFL Scouting Combine in formal 15-minute sessions. I think what you're referring to is the number of prospects a team can host at their facility in the weeks leading up to the draft.

They can set up visits with 30 players and that list is probably the truest measure of the guys that interest them. Not all 30 are first, or in Gio's case, second-round prospects. There are some guys who end up being late picks and college free agents. Teams don't have to report those visits so they can try to keep their business secret, but usually word leaks out when a top prospect is making the tour.

So far things have been pretty quiet on that front for the Bengals. But they usually take place in April, when the campus workouts are pretty much over and the coaches and scouts are back in the office.

By the way, no surprise that Gio had an extremely impressive visit back in 2013, which simply verified what everyone knew. He actually sent the Bengals thank you notes for bringing him in. One each to Bengals president Mike Brown, running backs coach Hue Jackson, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  When he came into the draft room the day after they picked him, Brown said, "Thank you for the note,' and Gio said, "Thank you for the pick."

Hi Geoff, Thanks for keeping up to date on all things Bengals! If you had to put a percentage on it, how likely is it that the Bengals take an offensive lineman in the first round? Also, do you think Gresham could return to the team on a one year deal after the draft? Rich Hidy, Cincinnati, OH

RICH: Thanks for reading. Given how far down they're picking in the first round, I think every position is 50-50. And I just don't see Gresham returning on a one-year. The money isn't going to be big and the role is going to be even smaller. Before he signed it, he'd have to meet with the coaches, where they'd make it clear that Eifert is the No. 1 tight end and he's mainly blocking.  

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The return of Pat Sims should help the run numbers.

With the recent return of Michael Johnson and Pat Sims, where do you think our defense will rank against the run and is it time for Kirkpatrick and Darqueze (?) to be the starting DB? Will Thomas, Cincinnati, OH

WILL: With those two guys they'll finish better than they did last year, which was 20th. Will they be fifth like they were when Johnson was here in '13? Only if WILL backer Vontaze Burfict recovers from micro-fracture knee surgery.

It certainly is time for Quez and Dre to play a lot more than they have, but let's not push out Adam Jones so quickly. To be fair, he was their most consistent corner last season and deserves to be a starter until someone beats him out.

And give Leon Hall a shot, too. Yeah, I know the buzz is he can't run anymore and he's limited now as just a slot corner. I'm not too sure about that, though. Last offseason he couldn't work on technique because he was rehabbing and this year he'll be better. Is that good enough to beat out Dennard and Kirkpatrick? If the draft pans out their way, no.

What are the chances we re-sign Giovani Bernard when his contract is up with Hill in the mix? Reggie Ubaldo, Colleyville, TX

REGGIE: Good question. Can you keep both? Let's see if they can keep all three receivers first, then go from there. The Bengals can't even talk contract with Gio until after this season and not with Hill until after '16.

I've become very familiar with the Big 12 since my kid goes to college at UT and I've seen many conference games. Tyler Lockett is the real deal. He's EXACTLY what the Bengals need. Fast, electric, big time playmaker with punt return abilities. I know what I see isn't a fluke, get this Antonio Brown before someone else does......2nd round is mandatory because smart scouts won't let him slip to the 3rd. Harold Mintz, Las Vegas, NV

HAROLD: I like the sounds of that. You're right about jumping on speed. In 2012 the Bengals were all over Florida international's 5-9 T.Y. Hilton and were hoping to pick him off at the bottom of the third at No. 93 when the Colts body-blowed them and took him the pick before.

At 5-10, the second round could be a little high for Lockett. But not much. And will he be there in the late third? An interesting guy, also, is tiny West Virginia burner Mario Alford for later in the draft.

A look at the construction being done to renovate the weight room and team area at Paul Brown Stadium

Hey Geoff! I've got a question to shoot your way. Looking back on last season there is no doubt in my mind injuries played a huge role in the final result but what has stood out to me as the biggest issue was the d-line play. Three key things happened in my opinion that effected the d-line. Not having Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins coming off of a major injury and losing Zimmer then promoting Guenther. So my question is which of those three do you think effected the Bengals the most? It's going to be interesting to see if Guenther can get these guys to rebound. Luke Pounds, New Madison, OH

LUKE: I think you also have to put in there the loss of Burfict. The D-line and linebackers make each other look good, so his loss was a huge factor in how the line ended up grading out.

Without question not having a 2012 Atkins was the biggest reason the line didn't play like it has. I mean, the guy is an absolute beast. You have to double him all the time he's so quick and strong. I mean, that's what Peko said. He said when Geno is playing well, they all play well and they all feed off him because he gets so much attention.

 To me, the way they chose to replace Johnson was a big factor, as opposed to who replaced him. Now, maybe the coaches felt like Margus Hunt and Will Clarke weren't ready yet to take the commensurate number of snaps, but cutting back the rotation seemed to hurt them. So guys like Wallace Gilberry should be better now playing fewer snaps.

As for Guenther, a '12 Geno and a '13 Tez will make the rebounding a lot easier.

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](http://www.bengals.com/fanzone/hobsons-choice.html)  Submit your questions to Geoff Hobson here!

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