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Welcome on the corner


Adam Jones is ready to mentor another first-round cornerback.

If you read their reviews (FOX, ESPN, CBS and, for all we know, the FBI and CIA) Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin and his staff along with the coaches don't need a lot of help.

But Pro Bowl cornerback Adam Jones, a budding college scout who covers more ground than his punt returns, is in the wings if he needs him. On Monday he praised the Bengals draft room for the selection of Houston cornerback William Jackson at No. 24, declaring him a better prospect than the draft's No. 1 corner, Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, taken No. 5 by Jacksonville.

Cincinnati Bengals 2016 Draft Class

"Certain things he does a whole lot better than Ramsey," Jones said. "A lot of plays Ramsey made, he was already beaten. He made a lot of plays because he was long. This kid is around the ball a lot. I only saw like two plays where he was beaten on the deep ball, where size made up for it. But besides that, he's in a great spot every time. He led the NCAA in PBUs, didn't he?"    Jackson did and Jones saw a lot of them the week before the draft, when he started watching tape of the college corners.

"I always watch the corners. Duke and me go back and forth," Jones said. "We were talking about wide receivers this year and stuff like that. It's always good to watch the young guys."

Jones and the brass sounded like they were on the same page when it came to receivers. Both of them liked Texas Christian's Josh Doctson, but he was gone before No. 24. Jones is going to see Baylor's Corey Coleman twice a year in Cleveland, a smallish but fast guy he hopes doesn't turn into Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown.

"My receiver was the kid from TCU. Some people liked the kid from Baylor," Jones said. "To me, the kid from Baylor is a good receiver, but to me he's a situational player. It's going to be hard to see him get things going with them big (defenders). AB (does) it, so maybe he might be the next AB. But that's going to be hard to do. We'll see."

The Bengals ended up with Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd in the second round and Jones gave him the ultimate Pitt compliment. He took a peek at the receivers, too, and liked that pick.

"He reminds me a lot of (Larry) Fitzgerald with his hands," Jones said. "I wasn't too impressed about the routes, but his hands are unbelievable. But he'll learn the routes once we get him here and get behind the system. We've got one of the best guys in the league that's going to be teaching him, so he'll learn."

They haven't re-signed nine-year veteran Leon Hall and they are still talking. But what has to be decided is where does he fit on a depth chart with three first-round corners 26 or younger? With Hall unsigned, Jones realizes they needed some bodies because they only had the two starters and two backups Darqueze Dennard and Josh Shaw that played significant snaps last year.


It happens fast in the NFL. Dre Kirkpatrick is in front of the line.

"If you look at it, we've only got four that was here last year. We do need some depth in there," Jones said. "I hope the guys are eager for the challenge. I wake up for days when I get to compete against other people. I think it'll be good for the team. We've done this before with Dre and Dennard. They were really good for us when guys went down. We'll see how it goes."

By the way, the draft gurus agree with Jones. The Bengals not only hit on Jackson and Boyd, but also the five other picks. The picks that drew the biggest praise as either gems or best value were right in the middle with Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil in the third round, Baylor defensive tackle Anthony Billings in the fourth, and Arizona State guard Chris Westerman in the fifth.

"I don't know how long it has been since I've had a low grade on a Cincy class. They have a plan and they consistently get excellent value," said ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. in delivering the Bengals an A-minus.

"The Bengals used to be the laughingstock of the scouting world. But they've upgraded that department and they continue to have really good drafts," said CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, weighing in with a B-plus. "This was another. They landed some good players who will contribute early on a roster loaded with talent."

"Hats off to Duke Tobin, Marvin Lewis, and the rest of the Bengals' decision makers on this one," suggested FOX Sports' Peter Schrager. "Cincinnati stayed true to its board and with seemingly every pick and took guys who produced in the college game."

Here's also something you didn't see ten years ago. A rookie looking for Adam Jones to be his mentor, which is what Jackson has requested. It shows you just how far Jones has come.

"It's always good when the guys pay a little bit of homage or respect or however you want to use it," Jones said. "I'm eager for him to get up under my wing. I'm ready to give him everything I've got. Hopefully he'll come in here and contribute and we'll be sitting back at the end of this thing smiling.

"My whole thing is lead by example. When he comes in here, he'll see me working and he'll understand the mindset of the locker room and how we do things. All I can do is lead by example and help out where I can help out."

Dre Kirkpatrick, the starter opposite Jones, is saying the same thing. With Hall, Jones, and Nate Clements here when Kirkpatrick came in No. 1 in 2012, he didn't have to play as a rookie. And neither did Dennard at No. 1 in 2014. At 26 with five years in, Kirkpatrick was in a different spot than Jackson. The guys in front of him had been in the league a lot longer.

"It's all about a development. We need guys to develop. I feel like he'll be a great piece," Kirkpatrick said. "I don't know when he'll play; he may come in right off the bat and play. I don't know. I just feel like the time he's ready he'll be ready.

"I feel like I'm still the left corner. (Jones) feels like he's still the right corner," he said. "I don't think we're drafting corners to come in and start. We've got too many of them. It's all about development. Going down the line and that guy he get older, mature he will bring great value to our defense."

Kirkpatrick is also embracing the role of mentor. It happens fast in this league. Jones is the only one left at corner on Kirkpatrick's rookie depth chart. He was with the group that took Jackson to Ruth's Chris for dinner Friday night and got into some bonding.  

"I'm in a different role now. As far as drills and things like that couple years ago I was in the back of the line, now I'm in the front of the line. It's a different role that I play," Kirkpatrick said. "I wanted him to know what it really was. You come out and compete because at the end of the day we are trying to win a Super Bowl. It's not about him taking somebody's job. He doesn't care about that. He got to work and we got to work. At the end of the day I can only make this team better at special teams, corner, whatever I can do to get this team to the Super Bowl. "

Jones is coming into the season with a new three-year deal. Kirkpatrick is heading into his option year. He wants to stay and he thinks they'll get it done.

 "I like it here. I am starting to go out more. Starting to interact in the community," he said. "I'm just starting to get over that hump where I'm getting out meeting new friends and new people. I used to sit around in the house all day and really didn't do anything. Those are some of the transitions I'm starting to go through now. It's going to be pretty good. "

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