Notes: Pundits keep loving draft

The national guys just can't get enough of the Bengals draft. They are inside Outside The Lines. They are Totally Accessed and front and SportsCenter.

A week after the draft and the guru beat goes. Sports Illustrated added another A-plus and gave the Bengals one steal (Cal wide receiver Marvin Jones in the fifth round), no reaches, and a pat on the back from staff writer Damon Hack.

"The expectations have been raised," he wrote. "The Bengals are making all the right moves."

Mike Mayock agreed on a Thursday NFL Network podcast. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth won't like the let's-pat-the-poor-little-Bengals-on-the-head tone, but the substance is there.

"I sit back and go let's bang the door and say 'way to go Bengals because you usually don't get much credit,' " Mayock said. "They've taken a lot of heat regarding draft moves in the past. I have to give them some credit."

He says that Wisconsin right guard Kevin Zeitler is probably as good as David DeCastro and that he had "a solid second-round grade" on Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, taken with one of the last picks in the third round. Thompson teamed with Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still has Mayock impressed.

"Mike Zimmer has done pretty well with some of these guys that I call 'motivational issue guys' coming out of college," Mayock said. "Michael Johnson; I wasn't high on him, they got him in the third round and he's become productive. (Carlos) Dunlap; I didn't like him and he's become pretty productive. That's what this Still kid is; he's gifted but I'm going to guess Mike Zimmer gets it out of him."

The Bengals would argue that they didn't think Johnson and Dunlap had such issues as they delved into their case histories and they think Still is a gamer. Certainly Still's defensive coordinator and later head coach at Penn State, Tom Bradley, thinks so. He says late in the year Still was showing his toughness battling a back issue and still playing a lot of snaps.

But Mayock's point is made. He likes what the Bengals have done the last two years and admitted last Thursday night in the first round, "I almost fell over when they traded (down) with New England."

And why not? It was the first time the Bengals had traded in the first round since 2004 and the first time the Patriots had traded up since 2003.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

» With word that that Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles last week, he's saying he'll be back at some point this season because it's partially torn. But you have to figure he won't be around for the Sept. 10 opener in Baltimore against the Bengals and if he does come back how effective is he going to be in the season finale at Paul Brown Stadium just seven months away?

Between Whitworth and Levi Jones, the Bengals left tackles have done a stand-up job against Suggs since he came into the league in 2003. Despite playing him twice a year, the Bengals have allowed just 7.5 of his 82.5 sacks, ninth on the active list.

» Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins focused not on the process but the crime and agreed with the NFL's decision to come down so harshly on the Saints players involved in Bountygate.

"The commissioner showed he's not playing about this matter; it's life," Hawkins said. "And you can see with CT scans and concussions and the longevity and the life span of players being talked about. It's the law. I can't say I disagree with it."

With the help of his older brother, former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins, Andrew has schooled himself on the concussion studies and the health problems faced by former NFL players. Knowing that last year the average life expectancy for a former NFL player was reported between 53 and 59 years old, he said it's a dynamic that has to be understood in preventing malicious play.

» The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones visited the Panthers this week, a guy that could intrigue the Bengals at some point. According to reports the Texans made the rounds trying to trade Jones on the last day of the draft, but now he's more attractive as a free agent.

Jones, a third-round pick of the Texans in 2007 who turns 28 in July, still has that take-the-top-off-the-defense speed that the Bengals don't have in a veteran receiver and he's got nice size at 6-3, 192 pounds. But is he a fit with all the young receivers? And do the Bengals have the same guy in returner Brandon Tate?

Jones is still a dangerous punt returner (one of his three career TDs came against Cincinnati in '08), but he had the same 10.6-yard average as Tate last season. His 127 career catches (for a 13.7-yard average) aren't far off the total NFL catches on the Cincinnati roster, which is 173.

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