Tobin opens up on No. 21

Duke Tobin is part of the Bengals' NFL meeting contingent.

ORLANDO, Fla. _ After their whirlwind six days in free agency earlier this month, the upbeat Bengals believe they have not only improved their team but also their draft position.

During a break Monday at the NFL league meeting, director of player personnel Duke Tobin, mastermind of the Cordy Glenn trade that is the centerpiece of the their offseason, says the deal opened up the draft for the Bengals when they swapped picks with Buffalo for Glenn and gave up No. 12 in exchange for No. 21 in the first round.

Tobin said their evaluation of the draft became a key component of the deal. Since they view it as a draft that has more solid players than elite ones, they felt like 21 offered excellent value.

“This opens up a lot of different positions for us. Quite frankly, a ton of different positions,” Tobin said. “When you’re picking lower in the first round you are picking from a broader pool and if you pick high in the first round, your pool is much is much smaller. It’s a big pyramid.”

The Glenn deal hit them twice in a good way, Tobin said. It gives them a reliable NFL left tackle, meaning, “There’s no longer the projection you had from the college kids. This is a known NFL quantity.” Plus, it gives them flexibility by filling a need not using the draft. “Anytime you fill a need,” Tobin said, “you help your team.”

Tobin reiterated what he said last month at the NFL scouting combine and called the offensive line crop deep. But he also said there are defensive linemen and defensive backs in the mix at No. 21 and indicated the presence of current offensive linemen such as T.J. Johnson, Trey Hopkins and Christian Westerman that has dabbled at center means the Bengals aren’t forced to replace center Russell Bodine with that 21st pick.

“T.J. Johnson is a guy we drafted and have on a second contract and a lot of guys in this league develop at that point,” Tobin said. “We see value in players available at 21 across the board and just not on the offensive line.”

Tobin made a rare appearance this week at the meetings because a couple of scouting assignments were in the area and there is some extra room at the table. Bengals president Mike Brown is back in Cincinnati recuperating from artificial hip surgery and Bengals vice president Paul Brown is preparing for surgery for a torn ACL.

With the AFC North given an extra practice squad spot this season for an international player, Tobin checked out a nearby scouting combine on Saturday before coming over to the meetings. And he’s got a pro day nearby on Wednesday.

The meetings went into all-day session Monday but the Bengals don’t expect votes on the competition committee changes until Tuesday, when the revised catch rule is expected to garner the most attention.

With the 82-year-old Brown rehabbing, the Bengals’ contingent had a new face with the addition of 24-year-old Elizabeth Blackburn joining her parents in Monday morning’s session. Executive vice president Katie Blackburn, Brown’s daughter, and her husband, vice president Troy Blackburn, reported that he’s feeling fine and could be back in the office as soon as next week.

“When we get back to Cincinnati we’re going to run Mike in the 40,” Troy said.

Elizabeth Blackburn became the fourth generation to sit in a league meeting. The franchise began with Mike Brown teaming with his father and Bengals founder Paul Brown in the AFL summits, but it’s not exactly her first league meeting.

“It’s the first one she wasn’t at the pool,” Katie Blackburn said.

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