Prospects on parade


Clint Boling

The Bengals coaches and scouts head to the Senior Bowl this Sunday to scout next week's Monday-Wednesday workouts in Mobile, Ala., and it's less than a 50-50 shot they're looking at their 17th and 21st picks in the first round.

When the Bengals coached the North in last year's game, both teams had seven players that ended up going in the first round of the draft. The Bengals coached the 17th pick, Colorado tackle Nate Solder, and they played against the 21st pick, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor.  

It figures to be less than 14 this season with a record 65 non-seniors coming out in the draft, nine more than last year and 12 more than 2010. Last year the Bengals took two players out of the Senior Bowl, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round and Georgia guard Clint Boling in the fourth.

Just going off their free agent list and who they've got coming up, the Bengals figure to be in the market for cornerbacks, guards and running backs. With starting wide receiver Jerome Simpson a free agent and indicted Thursday on a drug trafficking charge, a No. 2 receiver also has to be on the list.

It's not a game teeming with top prospects at those positions, but everything is pretty much in play if the right guy is there in the right round.

Working off a roster that is forever changing, here are some interesting players to watch in a game that airs a week from Saturday (Jan. 29-4 p.m.) on NFL Network even if they may not interest the Bengals:

WR Joe Adams, Arkansas 5-10, 177 - A little undersized, and that's pretty much what you're going to get in this game at receiver. So there doesn't look to be any first or second-rounders rattling around (maybe Nick Toon). But you'll get plenty of speed, although the Bengals history isn't to draft short, speedy receivers to start on the outside.

(We give you DeSean Jackson.)

Plus, the Bengals are already clogged with slot guys.

Adams, one of the most exciting punt returners in the country, popped a reverse-the-field beauty against Tennessee this season. Earlier in the year he scorched Auburn on a simple 92-yard sweep out of the backfield in which he hurdled a defender.

SS Mark Barron, Alabama, 6-1, 223 - He may be the best player in this game and a first-round lock. He can cover, hit, blitz and is a guy that starts his first NFL snaps with potential multiple Pro Bowls.

OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina, 6-2, 235 - Great 4.4 speed with one estimate that he's faster than 80 percent of the NFL safeties. Potential first-rounder but not for the Bengals one would think.

DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina, 6-6, 275 - Another in a long line of the Tar Heels physical specimens that have production questions, but still could go very high in the first round and be the highest drafted player in this game. This doesn't appear to be a position need for the Bengals.

DE Jack Crawford, Penn State, 6-5, 265 - Intriguing story. Hailing from England as a basketball player with some boxing talent, Crawford switched to football at his New Jersey high school and ended up getting recruited to the Nittany Lions. Projected as a late-rounder, Crawford is seen by some as a guy that could rise in the next three months because he's steadily improved. But it doesn't seem to be a need for Cincinnati.

CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, 5-9, 204 - Some have him rated as a first-rounder and he's the highest-rated corner in this game. Others wonder if his height is too much to overcome. But he's seen as a tough player and a physical corner and if he plays with enough pop to make himself 5-11 he's got a shot to stick in the first.

CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, 5-11, 200 - A tier below Dennard. Some have him in the third and fourth rounds, but his size helps him if he flashes.

G Cordy Glenn, Georgia, 6-6, 336 - Looks to be the highest-rated offensive lineman in this game. He's another likely first-rounder. Decent enough athlete to play tackle this season, but he projects to a guard in the pros with real NFL size.

WR T.J. Graham. North Carolina State, 5-11, 176 - He'll probably be the fastest player on the field in Mobile and may break 4.3 in the 40 if he decides to run at next month's scouting combine. He was the North Carolina state champ in the 100 (10.4) and 200 (20.82) meters. Speed gets him out of the mid rounds?

RB Dan Herron, Ohio State, 5-9, 210 - The University of Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead and Herron figure to be on the same team and the scouts get the opportunity to stack them up as Herron tries to move out of the mid-rounds because of his size.

DT Jerry Howard, Florida, 6-2, 301 -Mid-round projection. With Pat Sims heading into free agency, the Bengals may be looking for a stout guy to back up Domata Peko. If so they'd be looking for a guy 20 to 30 pounds heavier. Howard looks to be a mid-rounder.

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State, 5-11, 191 - This year's Tim Tebow without the mania. It's a hard fit for the scouts because of his size and underwhelming arm strength. But you can't deny he's one of the biggest playmakers in the college game. The Bengals can be happy they don't have to get into this debate.

RB Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati, 5-11, 200 - One of a couple of interesting local stories for the Bengals to peruse. He's already had some big games on the Paul Brown Stadium greensward and has eye-opening ability to stick his foot in the ground and cut on a dime. Whether it's enough to dash into the second round is the question over the next couple of months.

WR Devier Posey, Ohio State, 6-0, 195 - A Cincinnati high school product some regard as a mid-draft guy even though he played just two games this season as NCAA fallout hit him. He's got good speed and could rise as the Senior Bowl, combine, and pro day give him the exposure he didn't get during the season.

DT Devon Still, Penn State, 6-5, 305 - Some have him rated as the top "three technique" in the draft. Sounds like he needs some refining but scouts are impressed by his size and strength and his cousins Art Still and Levon Kirkland played in the NFL. A backup for Peko is a needed, but at this high of a pick?

WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin, 6-1, 215 - Probably the highest rated receiver in this game. He's got the size and physicality you want at the position, but he'll have to prove to the scouts he can get more separation than he showed this past season.

QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, 6-3, 215 - At 28, he'll be older than a bunch of guys scouting him. His age has kept his rankings down, but he's got a great arm and looks to be an excellent pocket passer that can make all the throws you want. Like Moore, he's difficult to peg.

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