Q: Interesting the first mock draft would have us taking a DT in the first round. With our greatest need being WR and how deep this draft is in defensive players, if Dez Bryant is there at 21 do you really think we wouldn't draft him? This guy is a top 10 talent but there's so much interior linemen talent he's getting pushed down the draft board, which is good for us. I've gotta think he's the best available if he's there and Price is there.* --Matt P., Jackson, OH
MATT: Yeah, I was surprised Bryant was still there in our Mock and I'll be even more surprised if he's there for real April 22. I'm not sure the greatest need is receiver right now with the Antonio Bryant signing. That allows them to get a receiver later. No question Bryant is a top 10 talent, but there are more things pushing him down the board than defensive linemen.
His speed and weight, for two. A 4.55 in the 40 combined with an added 15 pounds over his playing weight from his breakout '08 year have people gun shy. There are also concerns about his work habits as well as an agent, Eugene Parker, known to hold out his first-rounders. (Chris Perry, meet Cedric Benson.)
Sure, you're probably saying there were these same flares around Andre Smith last year and that didn't stop the Bengals from taking him No. 6. But there is the sense they were more desperate for a starting right tackle then they are for starting wide receiver now.
It all points to the only new receiver named Bryant is going to be Antonio.
Q: I would really appreciate it if you could give me your thoughts on the possibility of the Bengals still picking up T.O. I don't particularly have a thing for the guy. I know he is older, and I know in the past he has been a trouble child, but he seems to have gotten his act together, he can still play, is a formidable physical specimen (in physique and size) and the only thing better than 2 good receivers, is 3 good receivers. I think he would play "good guy" in Cincy for a chance to win it all.* --Joseph K., Chandler, AZ
JOSEPH: I would think if the draft comes and goes and T.O. is still out there and you can get him for a million or $1.5, they'd probably talk about it. They wouldn't pay him much more than that. Not after giving Bryant $7 million per year.
It would be intriguing to say the least. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former Bengals quarterback who threw to him last year in Buffalo, told us last month Owens still has great explosion and would be a good fit here because of Carson Palmer's personality and Chad Ochocinco's presence. It might be just crazy enough to work and the price would be right.
But I give it only a 15 or 20 percent chance for a variety of reasons. The major thing being the money. T.O. sounds like he's pretty adamant on $5 million, but he may choose to hang on until training camp to see what transpires. He may be banking on a team suddenly finding itself desperate.
It is right to keep an eye on him, though. Marvin Lewis liked him. Carson Palmer passed muster on him. And The Ocho still lobbies for him. But the price has to come drastically down.
Q: What are your thoughts on Antonio Bryant? I see good potential in him to shine here in Cincy, but his career stats are average. I just hope he isn't another Laveranues Coles. Although I realize that he's had a lot of coaches and systems, and never really had an elite QB or receiver to back him up.* --David D., Columbus, OH
DAVID: I see the same thing you do, but his one career stat that is not average is his 15.3 yards per catch. The only Bengal that has come close to that in the Ocho Era is Chris Henry. If they can write Bryant in for that in 2010, this passing game is suddenly rustling with '05 possibilities.
But what I really like are the guy's intangibles. He comes with a lot of experience and sees this place as an ocean of calm. What hasn't he seen with eight head coaches in eight years? And how about last year when the Bucs fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski in the preseason? He ends up with Jeff Garcia twice and Trent Dilfer once? It's like an NFL Dear Abby letter and the fact he embraces this team's stability shows you the guy is no dummy.
I think there are a lot of outside reasons for the average stats, but what I also like about Bryant is that he admitted he's also part of the blame. When he talked about learning to approach coaches and teammates with the proper body language, it was the sound of a guy who sounds like he's figured out how to deal with people. What worries me is what worries everybody and his coach in Tampa Bay last year, Raheem Morris, touched on it at last week's league meeting. He's emotional and sometimes it hurts him.
But this is also a guy that said upon his arrival here: "…a lot of times it was a lack of understanding because I never had bad intentions. I'll tell you first and foremost I always want to play good football. I always felt like going out there and making the plays and playing good football would handle everything. But there are other parts of life."
That's impressive. That's a guy that's been around. I like dealing with people who have more than a little tread on the tires. In my mind, that helps the locker room and, more importantly, the kids in the locker room.
Q: I was just reading an article about Tim Tebow and was wondering if he fell in the draft to the fourth or fifth round do you think it'd be a good idea for the Bengals to look at him as a possible QB of the future? I mean the guy dominated in the best conference in college football and we would have another QB leader who had a ferocious appetite to win, is active with helping his community, and keeps himself out of trouble. --*Bobby F., Cincinnati, OH
BOBBY: From what I can gather, Tebow has had a hard time catching fire at PBS. No quarterback is except Carson Palmer. They've got Palmer for at least five more seasons and it is just too early to bring in an heir apparent. Tebow won't get out of the second round, but it would be a lousy idea for the Bengals to take him anywhere.
It is going to be a tall order for the team that drafts Tebow because of the mountain of publicity, second-guessing, and finger-pointing it is going to spur. If you're not looking to replace your quarterback, why heap that upon yourself? I mean, Urban Meyer generated a news cycle simply by ripping somebody who quoted somebody else about Tebow.
No question the guy is going to be a community asset and be great for the NFL. If you walked your daughter down the aisle to guys like Tebow and Myron Rolle, you're having a hell of a day.
But Tebow is also a walking distraction because of all the interest he creates. Don't kid yourself. It is out of Tebow's control, but this guy can deliver a media circus as big as T.O. That has to be reserved for a team that desperately needs a quarterback.
A quarterback that keeps himself out of trouble? This isn't the team in the AFC North that has that need.
Q: With the Bengals looking around at other kickers and still trying to get something done with Shayne Graham, does that mean they don't have confidence in Dave Rayner? Is it possible they may draft a kicker and have him compete in camp?* --Tyler S., Los Angeles, CA
TYLER: I'm not sure they're looking all that hard.
Marvin Lewis has been pretty adamant in insisting that they're not going to find a Kevin Huber-type kicker in this draft, so it doesn't sound like he sees a Rayner-rookie derby as an option. There has been contact with Jay Feely, but that isn't going anywhere and neither has the Graham thing.
Rayner's career accuracy of 71.2 percent certainly doesn't invite the comfort of Graham's 85.2 percent. But some have noted that Rayner's percentage bouncing around with five teams in four years isn't all that different from Graham's before he had a stable job in Cincinnati. When the Bengals plucked Graham off the waiver wire in 2003, he had been with four teams in three years and had a 73 percentage. Rayner has more than twice as many attempts, 59 to 26, but what that all means remains to be seen.
If the Bengals seem indifferent about it, maybe they are. When they signed a kicker to the franchise tag last year, he had his worst game in the biggest game. When they grabbed a kicker off the waiver wire eight years ago, they got their most accurate kicker of all time.
There doesn't seem to a foolproof formula to find one, so maybe it could be Rayner, Graham, or someone who is on another team right now and won't show up until Labor Day. Clearly they haven't been able to make up their mind on Graham. And, really, he gets you mad but he also is 85 percent. It is almost like they're waiting for him to make the decision for them.