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Hobson's Choice: tough calls


When the Bengals pick offensive linemen in the first round, it is usually reserved for tackles like Cedric Ogbuehi.

Greetings from the Little Apple! As the draft approaches I am trying to stay away from media mock drafts to keep from being convinced who the Bengals will target and select. I would imagine that if you looked back at the last 5 drafts, hardly anyone would have nailed the first round pick.

**So with that said, here is my prediction, with the 24th pick in the 2016 NFL draft the Cincinnati Bengals select G/C/T Cody Whitehair Kansas State. Does he not met everything they look for? Smart, versatile, four year starter, Zeitler a FA next year, probably the BPA when they pick. Your thoughts? Thanks Geoff Dustin Meritt, Manhattan, KS

Bengals Preseason Schedule: Wk 1 - Minnesota Vikings Wk 2 - @ Detroit Lions Wk 3 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars Wk 4 - Indianapolis Colts


DUSTIN: Always good to hear from the land that yielded Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. And, really, shouldn't he be the next head coach of his alma mater, Kansas?

And please don't stay away from the Media Mock Draft, with the first one dated March 4, the second one April 1, and the final due the week before the April 28-30 draft.

You're right. Whitehair is their kind of guy, but I don't see him in the top 32 on any big boards. It's funny because while CBS Sports, who have guys I really respect in Pete Prisco, Rob Rang and Will Brinson, rates him No. 41 overall (probably because he projects to guard), Rang has him going No. 26 to Seattle and Brinson No. 27 to Green Bay.

No question the Bengals can use some backup depth inside, particularly at center, and they need to cushion the blow if they can't re-sign Zeitler at right guard. But they won't make that kind of move so early, not for an inside player, and there'll be a much higher rated player there at No. 24 other than Whitehair. They usually wait until the mid-rounds to do something like that. (See Bodine, Russell).

But I don't doubt they probably like Whitehair a lot, yet it doesn't seem to be a match. He'll probably be gone by the time they pick in the second and I imagine they'll be looking for other positions at that point anyway.


The Bengals need 2015 fourth-rounder Josh Shaw to take the next step.

 I am wondering why the Bengals let Nelson get away? Jason Hall, Surprise, AZ

JASON: I, too, love Reggie Nelson. A true pro. A great example for all of us. He overcame the label of being a bust when he got here and turned his career around on one of the league's top defenses.

But it seems to me the Bengals were stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. Nelson's age (32) hung over the whole process. Particularly after they signed 32-year-old cornerback Adam Jones to a $22 million deal and 26-year-old safety George Iloka to a $30 million deal.

Both Jones and Nelson turn 33 in September. How many thirtysomethings can you have back there? Iloka and soon-to-be 25 Shawn Williams are good, young safeties. To me, they made their decision when they signed Jones and it's the right decision because he's the rarer player playing a more premium position. Plus, they've got to stay young and Iloka and Williams have shown they can do the job and for a lot longer.

To me, the call has to be not signing Nelson, but extending Williams as he heads into his last season. It's a tough, emotional, hard decision. Everyone likes Reggie. But a lot of times in sports, the emotional call isn't the right call.


The Karlos Dansby move has more potential upside than risk.

Hey Geoff, question about free agency and the upcoming draft. First of all, why sign Karlos Dansby when PJ Dawson is primed to get playing time? We already have AJ hawk, so why the extra spending? I get its considered a big steal but it risky and goes against the usual.

As far as the draft goes, what are the chances sterling shepherd will be available in the second round? Also, what about center? The guy from Alabama will probably be available at 24 and he's regarded as the best in the draft, what are you thinking? Lastly, what do you think of Tyler Boyd? Andrew Todd, Medford, OR

ANDREW:  My take on the Dansby signing is that it wasn't a dismissal of Dawson, but an opportunity to upgrade the SAM backer spot where Emmanuel Lamur and A.J. Hawk played last season. It strikes me that Dansby is a "bridge guy," for one year until Dawson is ready. Plus, with Vontaze Burfict missing the first three games, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wanted to shore up the passing downs packages in Tez's absence, which is where Lamur struggled and where Hawk comes off the field.

Despite being 34 years old, Dansby finished No. 3 among linebackers in coverage last season, so I think the key word here is "upgrade."  And it's not risky at all. If he gets hurt, they finished No. 2 in scoring without him last year and they probably dropped only a couple of million on him. So the upside is bigger than the risk.

It's probably going to be 50-50 if Shepard is there at No. 55, but he's got a first-round name. I'm not so sure they'd take him if he was there. The second round seems too high for a 5-10 receiver that has a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. If they didn't take Tyler Lockett in the second round last year, I doubt they'd take this guy.

Boyd has got second-round size at 6-2, 200 pounds and he sounds impressive. I mean, the kid eclipsed Larry Fitzgerald's freshman records at Pittsburgh. But I get uneasy reading some of this stuff about him, like the majority of his routes were inside seven yards off the line and they say he's not very physical.

What really makes Alabama center Ryan Kelly so intriguing for the Bengals is that he's a Cincinnati kid. No question he's the best center in the draft. But, again, I just don't see them taking a center at No. 24. And I doubt he'll be their highest rated player on the board at that point.

Hey Hobs, I have couple quick questions. First, have you heard any news if the team could take a late round QB to park on the practice squad next year, it would make a McCarron trade in '17 feasible. Also, being a WVU guy, do you get the feeling Alford could challenge Tate for the everyday return man job? Phil McCoy, Parkersburg, WVA

PHIL: I don't get a sense quarterback is high on their priority list this draft, although I'm with you. I'd try to deal McCarron before his walk year, but not this season. So they need a good No. 2 for next year. Who knows, maybe they'll draft him in '17 with the pick they get for McCarron.

I do think that Alford is going to get a long look as a punt returner, no question. But it certainly helps that Adam Jones is back for three more years.

What's the reason the Bengals are not resigning Reggie Nelson? Seems the market is drying up why not make another pitch to him? Josh Gearhart , Westerville, OH

JOSH: The market didn't dry up enough and even if it did, I'm not sure the Bengals had a pitch in them. Nelson was simply a tough guy to slot in the salary cap given position, age, and other guys on the depth chart.


Darqueze Dennard is one of four first-round cornerbacks the Bengals have selected since 2006.

Hey Geoff I really enjoy your articles and answers, really useful for someone fairly new to the game. Anyway, what would you consider the bigger draft need, DB (both corner and safety) or LB? If we don't resign Reggie or Leon I think we look a bit light at DB myself. Are the likes of Josh Shaw or say Derron Smith ready in your opinion? Billy Gerrard, Wakefield, UK

BILLY: Thanks for the kind words from the UK and we at Paul Brown Stadium are excited about the trip over the pond in October.

You can never have too many corners, right? Once the Bengals started drafting them in the first round, they started showing up in the NFL's top 10 defensive rankings and the postseason. Not exactly a coincidence. I think they'll probably draft a safety at some point, but my sense is they think Josh Shaw could be a fit as a third safety-slot corner type and Smith would probably be back at No. 4 if they don't upgrade in the draft.

The thing about a 4-3 linebacker is that very few are on the field long enough to warrant a high pick. It'd be great to get a young, explosive three-down guy to complement Tez, but No. 24 is too low for that, usually.

Hello Mr. Hobson. Been following the Bengals since the beginning days of the "Future Hall of Famer" Kenny Anderson. He went to college about 40 miles south of where we live. Enjoy your articles and insight in the land of Bengaldom. What do you think the Bengals need to do to improve in the running game? The offensive line seems to be better pass blockers than run blockers. Finally how about drafting a difference maker on defense. Someone other teams go the other way from. Thanks. William Schwenker, Maquoketa, IA

WILLIAM: Thanks for reading and writing. We'll keep pitching for the "Augustana Ace," to get his rightful place in Canton.

That's a great point about the run game. The Bengals always finish near the top of the league in pass protection. But they also need to get a better year out of running back Jeremy Hill. Some of it you can't blame on the line, he simply had a disappointing year. But I'll say this. People are selling Hill short. They forget he's a year removed from being arguably the team's MVP as a rookie. He's got loads of talent and is very capable of ripping off a 1,300-yard season that would take these guys to the next level.

All that said, it would probably help if the Bengals cut down on their number of varied runs and do what solid running teams like the Steelers do. Run about three basic plays and run them well.

They're always looking for that difference maker. It always seems like they focus on the perimeter players in the early rounds, such as ends and cornerbacks, as well as pure body movers at defensive tackle. That's where the key matchups seem to be won.

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