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Hobson's Choice: The Great Debate

Brooks, Frelund project Bengals' first three picks in '21 draft

Hello Hobbs big big fan of the page. My question is with all the talk about the "can't go wrong" draft choices the Bengals have at pick #5. I am really interested in what your projections are, will they go OL, TE, or reunite two teammates? Antonio Walker, Grayson, GA

ANTONIO: Thank you very much for reading and taking the time to write in. Tough call with those three. In alphabetical order, nothing more nothing less: LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell.

The Bengals conducted their preliminary draft meetings last month, then went on "pro day palooza" over the past month. This week, they will begin their final draft meetings and my sense is the board could change more than it ever has this late in the game because the recent pro days were so important without a scouting combine.

You've got arguments each way on all three guys.

Re-uniting fellow record-breaker Chase with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is enticing.

But so is bringing in the draft's best tackle to an offensive line that starts a right tackle with a one-year deal and a third-year left tackle healthy enough to start just 10 NFL games.

A tight end has been taken in the top five just once since the Bengals have been alive, but Pitts is being bandied about as a generational talent fit for a 21st century offense.

Tough call. Too tough to certainly make now.

Hello Geoff, With all the Team Chase vs. Team Sewell talk. Put me down as team trade. If we could somehow find a partner to trade back a few spots and accumulate an extra 2nd rounder. Bengals could get 3 of top 50 players in draft! Maan Aboulhosn, Titusville, FL

MAAN: Good to hear from you again, my main Maan. And I definitely heard you in the most recent Media Mock Draft.

As one estimable Bengals insider reminded me a few days ago, the Bengals have emerged from the middle-to-late first round with some solid picks. They range from cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (No. 24) and Leon Hall (No. 18) to tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert (both No. 21) to a guard (Kevin Zeitler at No. 27) and a $14 million per year cornerback (William Jackson at No. 24). That's why I'd have to think the possibility of a swap that would net you three players in the top 50 or 55 or so is something you can't dismiss.

Hi Butch, I understand the appeal of both Sewell and Chase and I suppose I'll be happy with either one, but my question is while most people are saying they take Sewell, they only have 3 quality WR's. Seems that's the weakest position. Erik McMackin, Winter Garden, FL

ERIK: You've hit on a topic that has pretty much gone under-the-radar this offseason. Wide receiver Tee Higgins and slot receiver Tyler Boyd could have each had 1,000 yards together last year until they got hurt, but there is an element of speed missing adding in Auden Tate and Mike Thomas.

So, yeah, they need a fast wide receiver. But, like last year, the thinking is this is a deep draft for wide outs and you can get a guy that's going to contribute for you this year late in the second day of the draft or early in the last day.

Greetings Mr. Hobson, Thanks for all the "reads" over the years. Regarding the fifth pick: Joe Burrow needs to be upright and play all 17 games, and Joe Mixon needs blockers. Don't the Bengals NEED to take P. Sewell and forget Chase? Larry Plum, Union, KY

LARRY: Thank you for making my stories "reads." There's no question they have to protect. No question. But there's more to it than personnel for Burrow to remain upright. And I'm not sure you can "forget," about a guy like Chase, given his glittering track record with the quarterback already here.

You told me to ask you again later. If the teams picking in front of the Bengals are all picking quarterbacks? Todd Estep, Euless, TX

TODD: I guess you're asking me my preference if the Bengals select the first non-quarterback. You're asking me to take a stand in Bengaldom's Great Debate.

The rarest guy on the board is probably Pitts. But if you're breaking down Sewell and Chase, the tackle is rarer. That's the pronouncement of The Athletic's Robert Mays in Friday's story:

"A majority of the best tackles in the league each year were typically drafted in the first round, and the league has also been relatively better at identifying starting-caliber talent at the position. As The Athletic's Stephen Holder wrote earlier this week, 61 percent of the tackles drafted in the first round between 2000 and 2020 became five-year starters for their drafting team — the highest rate among any position. That number for receivers is only 40 percent."

That holds true in Bengals history. Most of their best tackles were top 10 picks. Or, at the very least, first rounders.

Their greatest tackle, Anthony Munoz, was the third pick. Vernon Holland, the 15th pick, started 118 games at right tackle in the decade of the 1970s the Bengals offense set the cutting edge. The book-ends of the 2005 record-breaking offense were right tackle Willie Anderson and left tackle Levi Jones, both No. 10 picks. Right tackle Andre Smith, who started on six play-off teams, was a No. 6 pick. The only tackles that played more than 100 Bengals games not drafted in the first round were second-rounder Andrew Whitworth and seventh-rounder Joe Walter.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have taken only one wide receiver in the top five, the great A.J. Green. On their all-time top 10 receiving yardage list, only Green, Eddie Brown (13) and Isaac Curtis (15) were taken in the top 15. And five wide receivers who have played at least 100 Bengals games weren't first-rounders.

So I guess that puts me in Penei's Platoon. (But I love Chase's Cavalry).

Butch: if Bengals cut Gio to free up cash to extend Bates and Hubbard why not wait until they actually extend them? And why cut a popular player the day before they announce Ring of Honor? Bill Huffman, Hamilton, OH

BILL: The usual timeline of Bengals extensions is anytime from about July 15 (Carlos Dunlap) to the week of the regular-season opener (A.J. Green). Which makes sense, given the focus of putting the current team on the field involving free agency, the draft and, for most years, spring workouts. The Bengals could have waited, but that would have left Giovani Bernard in a terrible spot to get acclimated to a new team or, worse, to even find a team.

I don't think the timing could be helped. Clearly they were working on this for more than a day. No doubt they tried to trade Bernard (no one probably bit at the salary) as well as re-negotiate and when neither worked out they moved on as soon as they could, which was to Gio's benefit.

Welcome to If they waited to release him for whatever reason, they would have been criticized for not giving him a chance to get on the market.

When will the new uniforms be unvieled? Steve Capano, Cincinnati, OH

STEVE: Don't leave for long.

I along with my friends are becoming reserved section season ticket holders for the first time. We have already reserved seats and paid down payment. I was wondering will we get to vote for the ring of honor? Thanks Eric Miller, Dayton, OH

ERIC: Welcome and thank you. Yes, if you have put down a deposit you will get a vote.

Long time listener. First time caller ha. As a new season ticket holder I get a vote for the new Ring of Honor which is long overdue in my opinion. But I wanted you to convince me on who I should be voting for to be included? Jeremy Rose, Columbus, OH

JEREMY: Thank you for the long-time. The ballot hasn't been released yet and anybody who is on it is going to be well deserving. Thank you for asking my opinion. But I'm not running any campaigns, only covering them.

I am anxious to see from which eras the next two honorees emerge. Paul Brown's original Baby Bengals and first contenders of the 1970s or 21st century players. I don't think time dims greatness, whether it is 45 years or 15.

Do you think that Kyle Pitts would be a better selection at 5th pick than Chase? If they choose to select a weapon rather than OL? He is just as fast, runs routes probably just as well, has great hands as well. Bernard Holmes, Cincinnati, OH

BERNARD: You read enough draftnicks and you start to think Pitts is the top graded guy of the three because he checks every box. Chase doesn't have dominant size (he's 6-0) or all-world speed and Sewell didn't play in the SEC. Both didn't play last season. Pitts, who did, is pretty much off the charts in everything. But Chase has a lot of things going for him, starting with a relationship with Burrow.

While I have loved the talent from A.J., Geno and Giovanni, I'm surprised we didn't get value for their release. Last summer our coach said "why would I trade away our best player?" Instead, we release them? What gives? Jack S., Cincinnati, OH

JACK: The Bengals are and were trying to win.

I think that was the belief for franchising A.J. Green for one year last spring. They felt like Green would be a big benefit to a rookie quarterback and I think they felt they could win a bunch of games in the second half of the season before Burrow went down and that's why they didn't trade Green before the deadline. With Geno Atkins hurt, they couldn't deal him.

Nobody was going to deal for Bernard's contract and the same thing with Atkins. Some argue they should have traded Atkins, Green and maybe Dalton two years ago and re-make the club that way.

I think the way they saw it back then, when Taylor came on for the 2019 season, draft picks are rolls of the dice and they had a shot to contend with those three guys that had won a lot of games for them combined with some youth. But Green got hurt in Taylor's first practice, Atkins got hurt in one of his first practices next to a top tier nose tackle in D.J. Reader. Green had to deal with two different foot surgeries and basically missed 24 straight games. Potential trades never lined up with the health or with the philosophy of trying to win.

Always enjoy your writing! Ja'marr Chase being on our short list for round 1 picks, do you have any concerns about him getting good separation vs pro level corners? Seemed like a lot of tight windows Burrow had for him vs college CBs. Jared Magness, Amelia, OH

JARED: Thank you for reading from out Beechmont way. That's one of the concerns. That and his size. He's an inch-and-a-half shorter than Boyd. But, look, Chase is going to be a hell of a pro. He's ox-like strong, his hands are out of this world, he's continually pummeled the best DBs in the nation and he's already made magic with Burrow. I mean, what more do you want? Yeah, I'm on Team Sewell, but I'm not going to flee Bengaldom if Chase wins.

When will the Bengals be taken seriously when it comes to the HOF? Timothy Hartley, Englewood, OH

TIMOTHY: As one of the 48 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I can attest that I've made enough phone calls and written enough e-mails to know that Bengals candidacies are taken quite seriously by the committee.

But they are hampered by the frustrating, almost invisible guideline that inhibits not only Bengals, but also candidates from other teams. When the close, tight debates come to an end and, believe me, except for a very few (only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre the last seven years) there's always a debate and a lot of times the tiebreaker seems to be, 'Oh, he won a ring."

Not good enough.

The Bengals didn't win a Super Bowl, but they got there because of Ken Anderson and Ken Riley. They didn't beat the Steelers in the '70s, but Lemar Parrish was going to six Pro Bowls as a Bengal while Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount went to five. Pittsburgh won four Super Bowls, but Isaac Curtis still had more catches and touchdowns than Lynn Swann and a longer yards per catch than John Stallworth, two Steelers Hall of Fame wide receivers.

Bengals are taken seriously in Canton. But Super Bowl rings are taken more seriously. And that's a problem. People are tired of hearing me say it:

The Hall has too many good players from great teams and not enough great players from all the other teams.