Cincinnati: Bucking the Trend

Marvin Lewis is working hard to change the image of the Cincinnati Bengals as unorganized, sloppy drafters. With an impressive draft under his belt, we can already say that these aren't your older brother's Bengals.

The Bengals approached this draft as one in which they had no excuse for error. The signing of Carson Palmer two days before the draft began got the ball rolling in the right direction and from there they never missed a beat.

On day one the Bengals started with offense and ended with offense. The jewel of the crop looks to be Palmer, who won't be forced into the starting lineup for at least a full year since Lewis had anointed Jon Kitna the starter earlier this off-season. The momentum continued when they took potential first-rounder OG Eric Steinbach in the second round and then third round pick WR Kelley Washington, who was considered a solid second round choice, to revamp the look of their offense by adding a stud to the offensive line and speed to the receiving corps.

Steinbach out of Iowa goes 6-foot-6, 297 pounds and can play guard, center, and tackle. The word on Steinbach falling to the second round is that many scouts believed that he wasn't ready to be a solid LT in the pros.

Washington will be used as a compliment to budding star Chad Johnson. Bengals officials timed Washington at 4.35 - 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. And at 6-2, 290 he has size that will give him some advantage over smaller defenders.

But that doesn't mean even Washington will be thrust into a starting role. "I don't think we're going to say that anyone is going to be an immediate starter," offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said of Washington. "I do expect him to challenge for a starting position."

On day two it was a different story. The Bengals started on defense and ended on defense.

CB Dennis Weatherby was drafted in the fourth round. Weathersby should return completely healed from being shot in the back last week. Before the shooting incident, he had been rated as a possible 1st or 2nd round pick.

For their second pick of the fourth round, the Bengals took a project from Division II. Linebacker Khalid Abdullah from Mars Hill will be a good pick-up for special teams, although he has some grooming to do if he wants to become an every day player. Many Division II players find it difficult to make the transition to the pros and Abdullah will find it most difficult when placed in one-on-one isolation. He's got a quick first step, but can be blocked off the ball easily when picked up.

In the sixth round, the call came for DT Langston More from South Carolina. A favorite of Gamecock fans, Moore's stats were down this year due to being double-teamed early and often. A NT in college, he's a special teams player all the way because of his explosion and lateral movement. He's too small at this point to play every down in the 4-3, but he might be able to succeed in the 3-4. He also wears down late in games.

Offense finally came back to the limelight when the Bengals drafted OT Scott Kooistra, a powerful lineman out of NC State. Kooistra will compete for a back-up tackle position, but he needs to work heavily on footwork and speed.

With their final pick, the Bengals took Elton Patterson, a DL out of Central Florida. Patterson is a gritty, undersized player who gives a top effort. His hustle may win him a spot on special teams.

Regardless how the later picks pan out, this draft was successful based on the quality of players Lewis and Co. took in the first 4 rounds. The only real risk was Weathersby and his back, but should he return as quickly as doctors expect, the Bengals will have drafted a QB, OT, WR and CB that all have a strong chance of starting on opening day.

That's called bucking the trend.

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