The Cincinnati Bengals are solid.
Let me repeat that just to make sure my fingers tapped the right keys. Heading into Thursday night's opening round of the NFL's three-day, primetime draft-a-palooza, the Cincinnati Bengals are solid. So solid that, sitting at No. 21, they can file their nails and take in a movie while the teams ahead of them scheme and dream their way through the first few hours.
The Bengals' biggest need is a tight end who can catch passes. They need a tall target who can take a hit and hold onto the ball across the middle on third-and-8. That's about it. That's like a baseball team that lists a good middle reliever as its biggest need.
Sure, Cincinnati would like other players. A safety would be nice, given both its starters,
They'd like a guard who can learn from the wise veteran
How can this be?
For a very long time, "The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock'' was every bit as funny as "two guys walk into a bar ... '' The Cincinnati draft experience in the 1990s -- commonly referred to locally as The Lost Decade -- can be summed up by remembering the stricken look that came across the face of quarterback
Klingler's look was telling. In four seasons and 24 starts in Cincinnati, he threw for 16 touchdowns, had 21 picks and a quarterback rating of 66.1. He took more hits than Obama's health plan. Klingler enjoyed his time in Cincinnati so much, he took to eating his lunch in his truck. But compared to Cincinnati's next top quarterback pick, David Klingler was
That would be
Here are some other great names in Bengals draft history: locate them now, win fabulous prizes!
If you're searching for them maybe start with milk cartons.
When the Bengals were reverse-dominating the NFL in the 90s, they operated in much the same fashion as they do now. Their mom-and-pop personnel department includes the brother of president
The Bengals' media guide lists one scout,
Brown defends his style by saying the Bengals get as much pre-draft information as any other team. That was fine, as far as it went. How the Bengals interpreted that information was always the catch.
Not so much now.
Things began to change when the Bengals hired
When they needed a running back, they took a chance on
In the meantime, the four-man miniature scouting department has been together seven years, building contacts and goodwill on college campuses around the country. They've had some painful misses in recent years -- wideout
Last season, six of Cincinnati's top eight draft picks played significant roles on a team that won a division title. Over the past three years the Bengals have picked 29 players of which four are starters and 11 are backups. Compare that to the New England Patriots, the gold standard for personnel wisdom, during that same stretch: Twenty-eight picks, four starters, eight backups.
What the Bengals are doing could be an aberration, given their business practices aren't much different from The Lost Decade. That won't matter much Thursday, Friday and Saturday. What they've done lately has worked remarkably well.
A pass-catching tight end is all they need. The Bengals are on the clock. No joke.