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Two-minute Hobson's Choice: remember '06


We offer a quick Hobson's Choice two-minute drill with more to come later in the day with a nod to the Andrew Whitworth draft in '06.

Hello Mr. Hobson now that was a great draft for our team I'd say the best of any team out their. My question is how are we gonna deal with our OT situation? Big Whit wants an extension which he's one of the best tackles in the NFL SO why not let him get what he wants? We can let Smith go since we just picked the best tackle in the draft, plus we got Fisher. So what do we do with all this talent lol? We are gonna own in the trenches. But what will the Bengals do now with Smith and Whitworth's contracts up? We could always put our line like this: Whit Zeitler, Bodine, Fisher, Ogbuehi. How dominant is that? James Butler, Cincinnati, OH

JAMES: This is a textbook study on how to keep a team together. It's a brain teaser. This question should have been on Michael Johnson's Strategic management final at Georgia Tech.

What would you do?

 Your three best wide receivers, including your best player, are in contract years. So are your two starting safeties and two starting corners. Three of those guys (Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and George Iloka) couldn't do deals until this year because of the CBA. Your quarterback's contract starts to ring the Wall Street bell next year.

In left tackle Andrew Whitworth, you have the conscience of the locker room, a big part of the glue that has held together the best Bengals run in history, and a guy coming off what many believe to be his best season at age 33. In right tackle Andre Smith, you have one of the league's better right tackles reaching his prime at age 28.

Obviously the drafting of left tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher set you up somewhere down the road. So has the drafting of first-round cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard.

Now, is Ogbuehi's knee going to bounce back? They think it will, obviously, because they invested the 21st pick in him. So do you give Whitworth the extension and move him inside to left guard next year and mentor the kid? I don't see how. Would he perceive that as a slap in the face? Plus, you've got a talented 25-year-old at left guard that you just gave $5 million per in Clint Boling. Whitworth turns 34 in December and you've got all these young guys coming up on their deals. Yet, you want to treat Whitworth with all the respect he deserves and has earned.

What would you do?

Traditionally, the Bengals attack these knotty problems after the draft and before training camp, which is when I would imagine there's some kind of resolution with Whit for next year. He has asked for an extension and whether that's in the cards is unclear. If it were me, sure, I'd extend him for a year. How they're going to fit that in with everybody else in 2016, well, I'd have to enroll at Georgia Tech to figure it out.

To quote the great Cincinnati spots talk master Lance McAlister, "I've got a headache."

Please give me some reason that will make me not want to jump off a building for why the Bengals took tackles in the first two rounds.  Jeffrey Hess, Fresno, CA

JEFFREY:  This isn't a hotline, but I'll try to give you an idea why I think they did it. But, it's the draft. Who knows how it's going to pan out? Maybe I'll be joining you on The Enquirer building rooftop in a year or two. I almost went up there once or twice myself covering the '93 Reds.

Nobody seems to be crawling all over them for taking Ogbuehi, a guy some say would be a top five pick if he didn't hurt his knee. So I'm guessing you'll give the Bengals that one at No. 21.

The one knock I hear on this draft is they didn't draft a guy who would help them win a Super Bowl this year. Barring getting one of the wide receivers like Amari Cooper or Kevin White, or the top pass rusher, Dante Fowler, they didn't have access and they would have had to have given up too many guts to get them. This was a draft if you weren't in the top seven or eight; you were getting nobody to change you. Maybe help. But not change.

OK, maybe they could have traded back up into the first round to get speed wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, a guy that ended up going No. 29 to Indy. But they would have lost the tight end they wanted in the third round to go get him and, frankly, with the four receivers they've got and no blocking tight end, what's a more important piece? Does a 5-9, 180-pound wide receiver get you to the Super Bowl? He helps, but you can't give up other pieces in return because now you're on a treadmill.

(Word is some Colts players were upset with the Dorsett pick because they didn't get anybody to block for Andrew Luck, so I guess its all perspective.)   

They also could have sat there in the second round and taken defensive end/linebacker/character Randy Gregory at No. 53 instead of Fisher and tapped one of the best pass rushers in the draft. And it was apparently discussed. Ever so briefly.

 Does Gregory take you to the Super Bowl or hell? Haven't they been to hell and back with those character guys?

If you look at the guys drafted right behind Fisher in the second round, you've got running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Maxx Williams, a guy they had rated below the tight end they took in the third, Tyler Kroft. Then there was cornerback Senquez Golson, tackle Rob Havenstein, defensive end Markus Golden and tackle Ty Sambrailo. Any game changers there?

Actually, Fisher figures to get a bunch of snaps this season as the sixth lineman and extra tight end, so he could have as big an impact as anybody on his team in that part of the draft.

I wrote this the night they took Fisher, but I'll repeat it. The Fisher pick reminds me of the 2006 draft when they took Whitworth at No. 55. They had just missed on Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano at No. 53 and with Devin Hester staring at them, they opted for their best all-around player on the board, just like Fisher nine years later. Even though they planned to extend 25-year-old left tackle Levi Jones.

The pick had a lukewarm reception. Gone was Fasano and why Whitworth if you already had Jones? And how could you pass on Hester, Mr. Electric, even if he didn't have an NFL position?

Easy. Whitworth was not only the best player on their board, he has impeccable character. The Bengals coaches still say Whitworth is their best 15-minute interview ever at the NFL scouting combine. If he couldn't play tackle, he could be also be a left guard.

And it turned out to be one of their best picks ever. Whitworth is invaluable on the field and in the locker room as he grew into one of the top left tackles in the game during their most winning stretch ever.

Character-wise and versatility-wise, they have the same feeling about Fisher, not to mention first-round grades.

The Whit pick proved many things about character, versatility and a lot of college experience and success. It also shows any time you draft high a lineman on either side of the ball in the AFC North, the heart is in the right place.

(By the way, at No. 56 in '06, the Wizard of Oz, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, also took a lineman who started all 16 games in '14, center-guard Chris Chester working on his second team. The Bears took Hester at No. 57 to launch a Hall-of-Fame career as a returner.)

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