The Gio Original.
Eric Ball, the Bengals director of player relations, went to two of his go-to-guys Saturday night when he hosted a welcome dinner for three draft picks at The Precinct.
They don't come any classier than running back Giovani Bernard and right end Michael Johnson and so there's no better way to give Jessie Bates III, Sam Hubbard, and Malik Jefferson a first impression of the locker room.
"It's always cool to meet those guys before (football starts)," Bernard said Monday as the Bengals began their third week of voluntary workouts. "It's a small world."
It turned out that Hubbard and Bernard had plenty to talk about because of a few mutual friends. Two of Hubbard's Ohio State teammates, Joey and Nick Bosa, went to Bernard' s high school, St. Thomas Aquinas, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. …
-The 5-9, 205-pound Bernard smiled when asked about the drafting of the "Gio Clone," Miami running back Mark Walton, a 5-9, 200-pound mighty mite type of back that, like Bernard, is a beast in the pass game and a nightmare in the open field. That didn't stop Bernard from tweeting him a welcome.
(Just so you know, Bernard has three years left on his deal, is one of their more solid guys in the locker room and on the field and is going nowhere.)
"I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing," Bernard said of the clone thing. "At the end of the day it's getting guys and filling the room with depth.
"There's two sides to this. You want to welcome everybody and the other side is it's a business. I try to be a professional in both areas and that's what I'm about. I've always been that kind of guy. Obviously I want to welcome him here with open arms, but when he gets here it's time to roll. We're all fighting for something and competition usually brings out the best in everybody and I hope that's what we do." …
- Bernard doesn't even play offensive line and he can see the difference brought to the table by new offensive line coach Frank Pollack after Paul Alexander served for 24 years.
"Seeing Frank in the meeting room, you knew once he stepped up there it was a change," Bernard said. Completely opposite ends of the spectrum with Paul. "That's not a good thing or a bad thing, it's just a different feel. You can understand that they want to change the mentality of the offensive line as well as the running backs.
"He's just the opposite of Paul," Bernard said. "A little bit more vocal. I'm not saying that Paul was never vocal. (Pollack) is just a more in-your-face kind of guy. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing, it doesn't really matter. It's just a different type of feel." …
-Left guard Clint Boling wasn't surprised with the first-round selection of Ohio State center Billy Price, tracking to be the Opening Day starter.
"It was somebody that we needed and at the same time he's a good player," Boling said. "Obviously there's a hole there and we've got some spots and some competition up front on the offensive line and that obviously helps fill that."
This gallery features the Bengals 2018 NFL Draft picks.