Updated 4-17-07, 1:30 a.m.
The exercise now with less than two weeks to go is just how many offensive players can be squeezed out of the first 17 picks before the Bengals get their shot at the best defensive player on the draft board.
The working number is that only seven to eight offensive players are going to be gone, with quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn leading the locks.
But maybe it ought to be the other way around. Even though consensus has some blue chip defenders long gone before the Bengals pick at No. 18 in the first round, there will be more than leftovers.
"There can't but help be very good players at their position of needs -- secondary and linebacker," says Jerry Jones of the draft survey The Drugstore List. "After one linebacker and one cornerback, someone is going to shoot right to them."
The linebacker everyone is saying is off the board is Mississippi's Patrick Willis. The cornerback is Michigan's Leon Hall. And according to the mock majority, defensive ends Gaines Adams of Clemson, Jamaal Anderson of Arkansas, and Adam Carriker of Nebraska will be gone, as will defensive tackles Alan Branch of Michigan and Amobi Okoye of Louisville.
"No matter how you do it, it always turns out to be 50-50," says Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for the The Sports Xchange. "The first five or six players are going to be offense but then the run on defense is going to start pretty quickly."
Jones can find five offensive players quicky enough. After Russell and Quinn, it's Georgia Tech wideout Calvin Johnson, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, and tackles Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and Levi Brown of Penn State.
"Defensively, the Bengals know there are going to several guys they won't be able to touch," Jones says. "Branch, Okoye, Gaines Adams, (safety) LaRon Landry, Hall. A guy that I think would be a nice fit for them, Carriker, but I've got him going by No. 12. Safety is obviously a need for them, but this is a rare draft that you may have three gone in the first round."
After Landry comes Florida's Reggie Nelson and Texas' Michael Griffin, but this is also about the point where you have to conclude that not every solid player on defense is going to be gone by No. 18. At corner there is Aaron Ross of Texas and Chris Houston of Arkansas if Hall and Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis are gone.
Many mocks have the Bengals taking Revis because they only have one corner (Hall) gone by then. But there are those who have Revis gone before then, too. Rang his him going 15 to Pittsburgh and John Murphy of Yahoo Sports sends him 13 to the Rams.
"Count it out," Jones says. "If only Willis is gone, you're going to have some real good linebackers there. Beason. Lawrence Timmons (Florida State). Paul Posluszny (Penn State). And you can do the same thing at cornerback."
But there's always a chance more offensive players could surface in the first 17 and make available one of those defenders that now seems untouchable. Leading that list are Cal running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receivers Robert Meachem of Tennessee and Ted Ginn of Ohio State, Miami of Florida tight end Greg Olsen, and Central Michigan tackle Joe Staley.
In fact, that's how Rang and Murphy have pushed down some pretty impressive defensive tackles to the Bengals with Rang now targeting Carriker for the Bengals in his most recent mock and Murphy tabbing Branch.
Murphy gets there by taking Olsen No. 14, Lynch No. 16, and both Hall and Revis gone before the Bengals pick. Rang also sends Olsen to the Panthers at No. 14 and gives the Packers Meachem at No. 16.
"Lynch has a real chance, particularly if Peterson goes early to Cleveland at No. 3, then you've got Buffalo at 12," Rang says. "Olsen has been all over the board, but I've been hearing he may not get past Carolina at No. 14. He could be gone by No. 18 and so could Joe Staley. He's one of the fastest rising guys in the draft. I don't see him on any list that has him going before 20 to the Giants, but you never know."
Which is a big reason why the Bengals don't figure to trade up. Seventeen is a finite number, which means there should be a defensive player there that helps them.
VISITS: The agent for quarterback Tim Rattay, Jim Steiner, confirmed his client worked out Monday for the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. But don't look for a quick deal. The Bengals are checking out other veteran options and could wait to see if something surfaces in the draft while Rattay has also been talking to the Raiders and about a possible return to Tampa Bay.
The Denver Post reports that the Bengals are getting a visit Tuesday from veteran defensive tackle Michael Myers. The 6-2, 295-pound Myers, 31, is looking to play his 10th season in the NFL with his fourth team after starting all 16 games for the Broncos last season and registering a career-high 37 tackles along with two sacks.
Myers has played in all 16 games six times in his career, including the last three years. One of those years came in Cleveland and the last two came in Denver after he spent his first five seasons in Dallas. The Bengals could be looking for a backup tackle to replace Shaun Smith, their restricted free agent lost to Cleveland. Myers isn't a pass-rushing specialist with 14 career sacks.
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Henry now has a valid driver's license three weeks after he was cited for driving with a suspended license, failure to use turn signals, and a seat-belt violation. The newspaper said a date for arraignment would be scheduled Monday but that the suspended license charge could now be dismissed.
Last week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Henry for the first eight games of the season and made his first stipulation for reinstatement, "He must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement."
The NFL said Monday the traffic citations were taken into account when Goodell handed down the suspension.
By the way, there is no sign that Henry is going to pull a Pacman Jones and appeal the decision. One of his representatives, Marvin Frazier, has had no comment.
"It's such a beautiful campus. It's such a nice place and everyone is so friendly there," Graham said. "It's just so hard to imagine that going on. I'm looking at the pictures I'm seeing and I'm just trying to imagine me walking across campus and seeing this going on. I just can't see it."
Graham, a Virginia native, watched reports of the nation's worst shooting ever in between workouts at PBS and like everyone else couldn't believe that more than 30 people were dead on campus. Graham left Blacksburg in 2000 as the school's all-time leading scorer.
"I'm not worried about the reputation right now of Virginia Tech, but it is a tremendous place to go to school," Graham said. "But the big thing is that everyone's thoughts are with the families and close friends. And you feel for even the people that aren't involved and don't know and are wondering, 'Is my daughter OK?' Or 'Is my son OK?' "
Graham spoke with people he knows at Tech as well as his family and no one knew anything about why or who the casualties might be.
"I've got friends there and you just hope they're OK," he said. "But I don't know."