Scouting party begins

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals head west and south this week to scout practices at college all-star games in San Francisco and Orlando, Fla.

But the East-West Shrine Game and the Gridiron Classic don't offer players the Bengals and the rest of the NFL are mulling at the top of April's draft.

Some of those players, such as Texas tackle Leonard Davis, are expected the next weekend at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The Bengals, picking fourth, are in California and Florida getting educated on players who may or may not be taken on the draft's first day in the first three rounds.

Jim Lippincott, the Bengals' director of pro/college personnel, sat down with bengals.com to offer thumbnail sketches on the top players on each team in this upcoming weekend's games.

EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME: _ Sat. Jan. 13, 11 a.m. EST at Pacific Bell Park, San Francisco. ESPN.

EAST

Kicker Bill Gramatica, South Florida, 5-9, 188 pounds _ Brother of Tampa Bay's Martin. Same size. Powerful leg. Maybe not as accurate, but a very strong leg that makes him a good kick-off guy as well as field goal kicker. A late-rounder.

Center Casey Rabach, Wisconsin 6-4, 296 _ A little shorter than you want, but powerful. Gets big push at the line of scrimmage. Nice feet. Probably the highest rated center in the draft, which means he'll probably go the first day.

Wide receiver Reggie Germany, Ohio State 6-2, 184 _ He had more drops than usual this season, but his size, hands, and route running are all very good. Brillliant career in becoming one of the best receivers the Buckeyes have had in awhile. Projected late

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first rounder.

Wide receiver Chris Chambers, Wisconsin 5-11, 209 _ One of the highly thought of receivers in the country. A faster version of last year's Bengal third-rounder Ron Dugans. Size, hands, speed, maneuverability after the catch are all excellent. Middle first-rounder.

WEST **

Defensive tackle Casey Hampton, Texas 6-1, 321 _ ** Probably the best player in either game this weekend. Powerful. Tremendous balance. Pushes the pocket. Relentless pursuit. A lot like a young Oliver Gibson. About the same size. A little quicker. But the same intensity. A top 10 pick, but probably not top 5.

Defensive end Aaron Schobel, TCU 6-3, 254 _ Would have to be an outside linebacker in Bengals' scheme. Has pass rush ability. He's an excellent tackler. Plays off blocks well. Protects his feet. Looks to be a first day lock.

Free safety Greg Brown, Texas 6-1, 208 _ Takes good angles. Good tackler. Plays intelligently. Runs well. Most likely second day.

Middle linebacker Markus Steele, USC 6-2 225 _ One of the top linebackers in the draft. Not very big for a middle backer, but still plays the run well and can cover. Late first rounder, early second.

Offensive lineman Chris Valletta, Texas A&M 6-2, 302 _ A technician. Against Oklahoma, probably played as fine a game by an offensive guard as you can imagine. Good balance. Adjusts well on his feet. Good punch. Good grab. Good pass protector and pulls well. Good prospect for first day.

GRIDIRON CLASSIC: Saturday, Jan. 13 at Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, 1 p.m. ESPN 2.

TEAM FLORIDA

Wide receiver Khori Ivy, West Virginia 6-1, 189_ Plays a lot like former Bengal Carl Pickens. Good size. Not the fastest guy in the world. Excellent hands. Knows how to get open. Pretty good runner after he catches it. Maybe a first day guy.

Defensive tackle Mario Monds, Cincinnati 6-2, 333 _ Powerful. Has strength off the ball. Is a factor at the line of scrimmage with quickness. Second day guy.

Linebacker Jauron Dailey, Florida A&M 6-2 226 _ The Bengals don't need more linebackers, but this guy will be a good player for the team that has the patience to make him an outside backer. He's very athletic. Fast. Played with hand on ground in college and got up field very quickly. Probably a second day guy.

Cornerback Eric Kelly, Kentucky 5-10, 199 _ Plays hard with a lot of heart. A good cover guy. Gets out of his cuts pretty easily. Covers his man pretty easily. Maybe a first day guy.

Strong safety Marlon McCree, Kentucky 5-10, 195 _ Moved from outside backer to safety, where he was much more natural and productive. Vicious tackler. Instinctive. Good balance. Doesn't get knocked off his feet. Impressive the way he defends the run. Looking at the first day.

Punter Keith Cottrell, Florida State 6-2 214 _ Powerful leg. Out of the Daniel Pope mold with a good hang time tied into about a 40-yard distance. Late rounder or free agent.

TEAM USA **

Quarterback Deontey Kenner, Cincinnati 6-0 204 _ ** An athlete. Fairly accurate. Smart. Good leadership skills. Arm strength is good enough. Handles a team well. Good field leader. He can play in this league. Late rounder.

Punter Dan Hadenfeldt, Nebraska 5-10, 191 _ Very complete special teams punter. In last year's draft, but went back to school. From October on, kicked as well as he did last year. He'll get drafted.

Kicker Vitaly Pisetsky, Wisconsin 5-9 225 _ Very powerful leg. At Monday's practice, he drilled several kickoffs two or three yards out of the end zone with the wind. Should get drafted.

Fullback Terry Witherspoon, Clemson 5-11 253 _ A physical specimen. Really put together. A good blocker. Also used as an H-Back. They didn't run a lot of lead plays for him to block, but when he got into a game he was very productive. Probably a second day guy.

Guard Victor Leyva, Arizona State 6-3 305 _ Good balance. Pretty good explosion off the line of scrimmage. Doesn't get knocked off his feet and slides pretty well. Probably a first day guy.

Cornerback Rashad Holman, Louisville 6-0 180 _ Smooth. Quick reacting. Good closing speed. Excellent man-to-man cover skills. Most likely first day guy.

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