Hobson's Choice: You make the call

Hi Geoff, If Troy Williamson and Mark Clayton are still on the board when the Bengals pick at 17 do you think they will take one of these two over a D lineman? The ESPN live mock draft has them both there and the Bengals Taking Troy. I believe I heard that Coach Lewis has stated that he wants to have a speedy WR on the opposite side of CJ. If they do take a WR what does this mean for P DUB and Washington. I can't wait for the DRAFT it is going to be great to see who we end up with. IN MARVIN WE TRUST

John in ATL JOHN:
Williamson is a no-brainer just because of his speed, but this is why it's called a MOCK. In reality, with all due respect to the best double-play combo since Burleson to Doyle, ESPN's Pasquarelli to Clayton can't get them all right. The Bengals are going to have about as much chance to draft the South Carolina scorcher as they are Raymond Berry because he'll be long gone. Mark Clayton (not John The Professor) is another matter, but only if certain defensive players are off the board.

Clayton is just 5-10 and the Bengals have never been enamored with short receivers. But they also love speed and Clayton has plenty of that. He may not have Peter Warrick moves, but he's got Chad Johnson speed so you know they have to seriously consider it. If Georgia safety Thomas Davis is gone as well as Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James, you have to believe that has already been a heck of a discussion. What we don't know is how they grade Clayton compared to the defensive players that are going to be there.

Do they think the high motor of Georgia defensive end David Pollack can overcome his 6-2, 265-pound size in the pros? Can 300-pound LSU defensive end Marcus Spears hold up as a NFL tackle? Or would they trade down if they get the chance and consider Mississippi center Chris Spencer or Georgia inside linebacker Odell Thurman later in the first round?

All of that would impact a Clayton pick.

Since they do have some young developing players comparable to the current top college crop and since they signed a veteran free-agent in Bryan Robinson, I'm not so sure D-Tackle is the huge priority that a lot of people view it and that could open a door for Clayton. And, then again, maybe not.

As for what a first-round receiver (don't stop there, what about a first-day receiver?) means to Warrick and Washington, that would be anyone's guess. It would make things tough on Washington because he's not a big-time special teams contributor, but they'd want to see how he responded because he's got a lot of talent.

When it comes to Warrick, I can't be sold that they're trying to get rid of him. They'd be glad to pay him the $2.2 million if he's healthy because he's a smart player who knows the offense and is productive in the red zone and on third down. You lose a lot of that with a rookie.

First-round wideouts have a recently mixed track record. Last year, it was excellent. Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, Detroit's Roy Williams, Tampa Bay's Michael Clayton, and Buffalo's Lee Evans all caught at least seven touchdowns. But Jacksonville's Reggie Williams and Rashaun Woods of the 49ers caught only one each. And in 2003, of the first-round group of Detroit's Charlie Rogers, Houston's Andre Johnson, and Arizona's Bryant Johnson, only Andre Johnson had more than 35 catches (66) and three touchdowns (four) as rookies.

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