INDIANAPOLIS — Brian Billick, who used to rely on Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis to call his defenses, thinks Lewis has to go defense in the first round of the draft.
Billick, the former Ravens head coach turned NFL Network analyst, said Saturday the Bengals need "a dominant outside pass rusher," as well as cornerback help.
This is now the 23rd straight NFL Scouting Combine the Bengals have found themselves looking for a dominant outside pass rusher, or ever since they took James Francis with the 12th pick in 1990.
But Billick doesn't see a match in the first round. He does at cornerback with Nos. 17 and 21.
"It's not a great year for that, is that going to be available to them?" Billick said of the rushers. "Probably the secondary. The fact they lost out in free agency, then the injury to (Leon) Hall. Probably go into the secondary and shore that up. Maybe they can strike gold in the later rounds for the outside pass rusher, maybe in free agency. Where they're picking in the first round, I don't know if there is going to be that dominant pass rusher."
The loquacious Billick spewed several syllables on Lewis's Coach of the Year season.
"I'm biased," Billick said. "Given what he was overcoming and what our expectations were, it would be well deserved for consideration.
"If you get to .500, you ought to be canonized. And to do it with that young team, that rookie quarterback, with no real dominant force on defense. You lost your secondary. To make the playoffs and this is a young team. You get Jordan Shipley back. (Jermaine) Gresham and A.J. Green. If they can get a dominant outside pass rusher to fit into the defense … ."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Ken Harris, the agent for Bengals free-agent kicker Mike Nugent, said he met with the club here Friday for their first discussion but had nothing to report.
» ProFootballTalk.com had an item in the wake of Saturday's first offensive line drills that the No. 1-rated guard, Stanford's David DeCastro, looked sharp in the drills even though he doesn't have mind-boggling numbers. The site said he unofficially ran 5.34 and 5.47 in the 40-yard dash and he checked in at just under 6-5, 316 pounds.