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Quick Hits: 'On The Cusp' Bengals Make Final Draft Preps; Bill Tobin Remembered; Versatility Also Key In Draft Room

Joe Burrow during Day 2 of Mandatory Minicamp on Wednesday, June 14th at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Joe Burrow during Day 2 of Mandatory Minicamp on Wednesday, June 14th at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Bengals can feel a draft coming in through the championship window quarterback Joe Burrow says is flung open for his entire career.

So they're prepared to move around the board in search of the final pieces during this weekend's NFL Draft that begins with Thursday's first round (8 p.m.- ABC, ESPN, NFL Network) from Detroit.

The Bengals hold the 18th pick in the first round (an approximate 10 p.m. selection) as well as four picks in the first 97 and that includes three in Friday night's second and third rounds. The final four rounds are Saturday when the Bengals have six picks.

But when director of college scouting Mike Potts met the media Tuesday, he made it clear the Bengals believe they "are right on the cusp," of Super Bowl contention and a championship and are prepared to move.

"We know we are close. We've got a really good roster. It's far from perfect. There's definitely some holes we need to fill. What our holes may be perceived as of right now are not necessarily what they could be in the future," Potts said.

"There for sure is a sense of urgency. We think we are right on the cusp of being where we want to be. We've got 10 picks. We've got flexibility. If there's certain guys that we really target and really covet and think can get us over that hump, we would be stupid to not go and do what it takes to get a certain player if we think it can make that kind of impact."

BILL TOBIN REMEMBERED: Potts was subbing for director of player personnel Dubin Tobin, back in the building preparing for the draft after his father's death on Thursday. Bill Tobin, 83, was a fixture in the Bengals drafts since 2003 as an area scout and trusted adviser of 50 years in the league.

"I was very, very fortunate to have been around him the time that I was, not just myself but a lot of other guys in our personnel department," Potts said. "A lot of the lasting memories and things that I learned from him will stick with me for a long time … It's been a tough week, but our thoughts and prayers are with the Tobin family, the rest of his friends and guys he's worked with around the league in his phenomenal career. In my opinion, one of the best who has ever done it."

  1. 97: When the NFL re-calibrated its free-agency compensation last month and gave the Bengals the 33rd pick in the third round (97th overall), you could also view it as the first pick in the fourth round. The Bengals view it as a potential new starter, as well as more ammunition.

"I think in the top 100, specifically, the top three rounds, you're always looking to get starting caliber players. That's all the grading scales that I've been a part of in my career. You're looking for a starting caliber player (in the top 100)," Potts said. "That's the goal. It obviously never (always) works out, because every draft is different. There are different strengths and weaknesses and different depths of each individual draft.

"We can use it as ammo to potentially trade up. We could explore trading back. It gives you a lot of different flexibility."

NIL TAKE: Back in the day, one of the greatest challenges in scouting was projecting how a prospect would react when handed millions of dollars. NIL money in the college game now gives you more than a clue and the Bengals are making no bones about looking into how much a player is making and how he's handling it.

"I think it has advantages," Potts said. "It takes that projection element for some of those higher-end guys out of it. It makes it a little bit easier in that regard. We can see, 'Is this guy going to be mature with his money or is he getting hundreds of thousands of dollars … and acting irrationally?'

That part of it can help. It's something we will navigate going forward."

VERSATILE DRAFT ROOM: As the granddaughter of Bengals president Mike Brown and daughter of club VPs Katie and Troy Blackburn, Elizabeth Blackburn has been around drafts her entire life.

Now that she's the Bengals' director of strategy and engagement, versatility is not only sought in the draft but also for executing it. She's pitching in any way she can. Whether it's running reports on other teams' needs for a potential trade, or gauging how a prospect is viewed league-wide and not just by the Bengals, Blackburn is also finding a draft room niche.

"She's been awesome. I think her mindset is anything I can do to help, she always wants to lend a helping hand," Potts said. "It's hard to pinpoint one exact thing that she's helped with the most. It's just a lot of different areas and a lot of different reports and taking advantage of the information that we have."

NOT FLUID: The board the Bengals have built the past week isn't going to change drastically before Thursday night. Potts says in the last couple of days calls have been made to college coaches for final confirmations and Bengals coaches are making their final Zoom calls with prospects for one last question or two. But what they see on Tuesday is pretty much what they get.

"The board is pretty solidified right now. There's definitely not going to be any major shifts over the next 48 hours until the draft starts," Potts said. "Maybe just little tweaks here and there. Maybe this guy is the seventh guy at a position and we want to flop him with the eighth guy. It's just minor tweaks here and there. Due to more information coming in. Due to more conversation between our personnel staff, coaching staff, ownership."


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