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Keeping up with Jones


With the lockout in full mode, the NFL draft is receiving an inordinate amount of analysis and so the sands are shifting every hour on the hour.

On Thursday, the Bengals were supposed to be taking Auburn quarterback Cam Newton because he's going to work out privately for them the first of week of April and has been invited for a visit the next week to Paul Brown Stadium. But it's believed Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert has a similar itinerary.

On Friday, the hot name is Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, courtesy of a few complimentary paragraphs from the Bengals' Marvin Lewis earlier in the week during the NFL head coaches media breakfast in New Orleans. In between those verbal haymakers he's been throwing at Chad Ochocinco that are starting to draw blood, Lewis raved about the way Jones blocks and noted how well rookie wide receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas played last year despite breaking a foot heading into the draft.

After one report had the Bengals putting Jones ahead of Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, a guy that has been the consensus No. 1 wideout, Pro Football Weekly's first-round mock draft published on Friday has the Bengals taking Jones at No. 4 after the Panthers took Green No. 1.

Lewis helped along the speculation when he said, "My boss likes offense." But does Mike Brown like receivers enough to spurn his coveted quarterback position at No. 4? In their 43 drafts the Bengals have taken only one receiver that high and it didn't work out well when they got Peter Warrick at No. 4 in 2000.

In fact, the next two highest didn't work out great either, like David Verser at No. 10 in 1981 and Billy Brooks at No. 11 in 1976. But Eddie Brown at No. 13 in 1985 and Isaac Curtis at No. 15 in 1973 is more like it.

On the other hand, the Bengals have taken five quarterbacks between Nos. 1-6 at the top of the draft.

But no question that Green and Jones project to the NFL better than the short Warrick. Both these guys are a good 6-4 and have measurables through the charts. Either one of them gives the Bengals a No. 1 receiver, but it's too early to say who they favor. They won't start ranking them until everybody is back off the road from the Pro Days circuit.

EXTRA PICK: The Bengals picked up an extra seventh-round pick Friday for next month's draft when the NFL handed out its compensatory picks. Because their signings and departures in 2010 evened out, they didn't get a high one but instead got one of the extra picks given to the teams picking high or in the middle of the rounds. It is the 45th pick in the round, the 245th overall in a draft of 253, and their eighth and final pick of the draft.

The Bengals have picked later than that recently and got some guys that could play. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe arrived via the second seventh-round pick in 2007 at No. 253 and he's started 31 games. Memphis defensive tackle Clinton McDonald arrived as the second seventh-rounder in 2009 at No. 249 and after spending his first year and a half on the practice squad he got into eight of last season's final nine games and provided some productive snaps.

CARROLL ON PALMER:Pete Carroll, Carson Palmer's head coach at USC, was quick to say at the league meetings he hasn't talked to Palmer. Carroll, now the Seahawks head coach, needs a quarterback but with the Bengals unable to make trades during the lockout and club president Mike Brown letting the world know Palmer is going nowhere, there is no need to tailor a Seattle uniform for him.

"He's been a tremendous advocate of the Bengals and been an upright guy the whole time; it's unfortunate it's come to this," Carroll said. "I don't know, but I would think he has thought this out very clearly and he knows what he's doing and what he wants to do with it. I don't know how it's going to play out, but it sounds like he's very serious."

So, it seems, is Brown.

OCHO EXTEDNED: The Ocho's four-day tryout with Kansas City's Major Soccer League team was extended to Monday's practice game with the minor-league Kansas City Brass. After getting winded Wednesday, Ochocinco has come on the past two days and has flashed a few good crosses according to published reports.

"If he wants to make it on this level, he needs more practice," goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen told "(He's going against) top professional players who have been practicing every day for many, many years. If I stepped on the NFL field, I'd look like an idiot. But you can see he's very athletic and, with some more practice, definitely could be a good player."

"I think tactically and technically there wasn't drastic improvement, but I think he settled down and certainly was more relaxed, and it led to an improved performance," Sporting assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin said on "He had a couple of decent moments today, but there's still a long way to go."

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