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Hobson's Choice: Trendy move

Q: With the Bengals' current wide receiver problem, should they draft a wide receiver with their first draft choice? Or wait to pick up someone like Devin Thomas in the second round or James Hardy in the third or fourth?
--Mike A., Hicksville, OH

MIKE: Make this the official start of lobbying against taking an offensive player at No. 9. Just look at the Bengals' top five all-time receiving and rushing lists. Only one was taken in the first round out of those 10 players.

That would be the incomparable wide receiver Isaac Curtis and that was 35 years ago, so you'd have to say it's a trend. True, if you look at the top 10 wide receivers by yards, there are three more first-rounders with Eddie Brown, Tim McGee and Peter Warrick.

But if you look at the top 10 running backs, none were taken with the team's first pick and only two (Archie Griffin behind Billy Brooks and Charles Alexander behind Jack Thompson) went in the first round.

Given that they've got 10 picks and every draft always seems to be deep with both receivers and backs, why not wait until later? Receivers Early Doucet (he may have the best hands in the draft) and Hardy (he makes Chris Henry look short) could be there in the second round. But not later.

(And forget Thomas. He'll go in the first.)

For running backs, Jonathan Stewart, Kevin Smith and Chris Johnson could also be in play.

Here's the problem at No. 9. What if both D-tackles are gone? They can't go cornerback three years in a row, the linebacker spot in this draft is too high for No. 9, and they've already got two young defensive ends in Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom.


Well, corners are like pass rushers. You can never have enough. So if either one is there at nine (Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey? Troy corner Leodis McKelvin?), why not? And you can even talk me into USC linebacker Keith Rivers.

Let's face it. The defense needs players. The offense has some needs. Not much of a difference, but enough between the ninth pick and the 46th.

Q: Do you think that the Bengals will trade somebody to get Sedrick Ellis in the draft? If so, which player will get traded?
--Darrell, Cincinnati, OH

DARRELL: If you're talking trading up, teams would prefer a draft pick compared to a player that would be offered and they'd probably be leering at the Bengals' first third-rounder. Is Ellis that valuable if many mocks already have him going to the Bengals?

You can say what you want about the massive need for a D-tackle, but would you give up a starting running back or receiver that you could get in the third round for a guy that might be at No. 9 either way?

Usually, I'd be all over that and urge them to move up and get in front of the Jets at No. 6. But given the injured state of the running backs and the departures of Henry and Tab Perry, they really ought to keep as many picks as they should, right?

And maybe they still get Ellis.

You can talk about guys like Deltha O'Neal as trade fodder, but not in a deal like that. Teams are looking for starters at that point and the Bengals have none to give.

Q: I was wondering how does the release of Henry affect our salary cap?
--Doug, Piketon, OH

DOUG: Not enough to make a difference.

Henry had been scheduled to get escalators in the last two years above the minimum of $525,000, so figure he was going to make about $750,000. Add the cap hit from his bonus and the Bengals probably gain about half a million.

Not bad. But that isn't going to change what Marvin Lewis said the club is going to do the rest of the offseason and that's approach some of their own guys about extensions.

Likely candidates are T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Shayne Graham, both up after '08, and defensive lineman Domata Peko and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth after '09.

Free-agency is about picked clean. They appear to be making no moves for veterans at receivers and running back.

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