Posted: 4:25 p.m.
We've picked the brains of the local beat guys, now the Bengals.com Media Mock Draft explores the national body politic and emerges with an intriguing sixth pick in the April 25 extravaganza that isn't an offensive tackle.
1. LIONS: LT Jason Smith, Baylor;Peter King, Sports Illustrated.
The King says the Matt Stafford deal is not out of the question, which has a major impact on the Bengals. If the Lions don't take one of the top two left tackles on the board (Smith or Eugene Monroe), there is a decent shot the other would end up at No. 6.
But not in this scenario, which King has christened "The Russell Maryland Draft." He harkens back to 1991, when the Cowboys deemed Rocket Ismail and his size too big of a risk.
"Jimmy Johnson thought Rocket was boom or bust and he went with the safe pick," King says. "He knew Maryland (a defensive tackle) wasn't a huge star, but he also knew he could stick him out there for 10 years and he was going to be a very solid player. That's the way this draft is. Take the guy you know who is going to help you for a long time."
And, by the way, King says this isn't the year people are going to be able to trade out. He hears buzz about the Lions packaging their picks in a deal with Denver for No. 12 and King asks of new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, "Why would he move out of No. 12? In this draft, it's the best pick to have."
As for the Bengals, he says it looks like an Andre Smith pick at No. 6 with mock momentum growing for the Alabama left tackle.
2. RAMS: LT Eugene Monroe, Virginia; Pete Prisco, CBSsportsline.com.
The Bengals are tackle rich compared to St. Louis. As Prisco says, "They've got Alex Barron moving from right to left and he couldn't play right."
But Prisco says Detroit is going to end up taking Stafford.
"Look at the last Super Bowl and the offensive lines and the left tackles," Prisco says. "Max Starks and Mike Gandy. Not great. You need a quarterback before anything else."
With Stafford going to the Lions and with the inkling that the Rams favor Monroe over Jason Smith, that could put Smith in play at No. 6.
Prisco has Monroe going to the Bengals at six, but his 3-4-5 of Aaron Curry, Mark Sanchez and Brian Orakpo would give Cincinnati a shot at Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and with Chad Ocho Cinco now 31 and not at voluntaries, Crabtree's talent could be too hard to pass up.
3. CHIEFS: LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest; Bill Williamson, ESPN.com
Like everyone else, the Chiefs are trying like mad to trade out, but not if Curry is there. Williamson says there are some scouts that believe he isn't a good fit in a 3-4, but in the end they feel like it's a safe pick for a struggling defense.
But if Jason Smith or Monroe is there, it's not a foregone conclusion the Chiefs are out of the tackle hunt. Williamson says, "That could be a Plan B type of thing because they could move the kid they drafted last year (Branden Albert) to right."
Then it would be Andre Smith if Crabtree is gone and if the Bengals feel Smith can play left tackle as well as get beyond such issues as showing up out of shape at February's scouting combine before bolting before it was over and his suspension from a bowl game because of entanglements with an agent.
"He can play, but is he worth it that high?" Williamson asks.
4. SEAHAWKS: QB Matt Stafford, Georgia; John Clayton, ESPN.com
Clayton is another guy that believes Stafford is going to Detroit, but in this scenario he says Seattle would consider Stafford falling to them in anticipation of the post-Matt Hasselbeck era because of GM Tim Ruskell's penchant for strong-armed quarterbacks.
He also says this isn't the first year of the post-Hasselbeck era and that the buzz the Seahawks are focused on another quarterback, Sanchez, also isn't accurate.
"In the scenario where Stafford goes No. 1, it is wide open for Seattle," Clayton says. "My read on it is they have already filled their needs by signing the defensive tackle in free agency, trading for the defensive end and re-signing a guard-tackle. Tim Ruskell doesn't like to take tackles this high, but I think it's going to come down to the best player and I see it as Monroe or Crabtree and I'm not sure how they see it."
5. BROWNS: QB Matt Sanchez, USC; Vic Carucci NFL.com
Carucci stuns the world. Even though the Browns already have two quarterbacks and new head coach Eric Mangini has already declared an open competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, Carucci says he's under the impression that Mangini wants to start over the program and that he likes Sanchez ahead of Stafford, anyway.
"It's a very wide open draft in which there is nothing defined in the top 10," Carucci says. "Need comes more into play, but they like Sanchez and if they don't get him there, they're not going to get him."
But wouldn't the Browns also be in the Crabtree mix with their receiver situation? Donte Stallworth could be headed to jail and Braylon Edwards is supposedly on the block.
Crabtree, who has drawn comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald, has been very protective of the foot that is in a cast after surgery for a stress fracture.
"I'm going to follow the Gil Brandt rule," says Carucci of the NFL.com draft chieftain. "You can never go back and tell your owner, 'I never saw him run the 40.' "
Many mocks are giving the Browns Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and Carucci says they'll consider him but he doesn't think Mangini is going to pull the trigger and make him a linebacker in a 3-4.
"I don't think he thinks Orakpo is a good fit in a 3-4 and I think Orakpo himself thinks he's better fit in a 4-3," Carucci says.
6. BENGALS: Crabtree or Andre Smith or Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji?
Across the NFL, Crabtree is undoubtedly the highest-rated player among those three even though he's got some flags. There is not only the foot, but also the spread offense, an agent (Eugene Parker) prone to 30-day holdouts at the top of the draft, and lack of No. 1 receiver speed.
But he's relentless, tough, and a No. 1 playmaker, and an attraction to a team where Ocho Cinco has stirred the trade talk by not showing up for offseason workouts.
"But it doesn't address a need for them," says Jerry Jones, author of the draft survey The Drugstore List and former regular in the Bengals draft room. "Unless you know you're trading Chad. And, at that point in this scenario, the best name on the board is Crabtree."
Raji doesn't address as big a need now that Tank Johnson is in the fold and Jones agrees with many that the signing has taken Raji out of the mix.
Jones is one of the anti-Andre guys in a year people either love Andre Smith's fearsome run-blocking abilities or fear his character issues.
"Too much of a risk," Jones says. "Not only is there the character stuff, but there are people who not only don't think he can play left tackle, but that he can only play guard. It's just too high for him. It's not a bust when other teams are ready to draft him. It is a bust if he fails and the red flags were out."
NFLDraftScout.com compares Smith to Leonard Davis, a college tackle that now plays guard and their scouts observe, "Smith has always battled the 'bulge,' and while he is best playing at 335-340, he has seen his weight balloon to the 375-380 range, where that added bulk has affected his overall mobility. He needs to be monitored in the training room, but will he respond to tough coaching?"
But just as many believe Smith is a solid choice, a guy that fits into The King's view that he will be a solid player for a decade, particularly at right tackle in the running game. He's in shape and came off well during his on-campus interview with the Bengals. And using Jones' standard, the Raiders at No. 7 and the Packers at No. 9 are apparently ready to pounce on Smith.
Clayton predicts Andre Smith at No. 6 going off Bengals president Mike Brown's history.
"Take a look at Levi Jones," says Clayton of the 2002 draft the Bengals stunned the gurus and picked the Arizona State left tackle at No. 10. "They were supposed to take a tight end or a cornerback that year. But Mike has shown that he's committed to getting a quarterback when he needs one and the same thing for an offensive lineman."