Bengals’ columnist Chick Ludwig takes on your questions pertaining to the Bengals, the draft, and anything you’d like to know about fashion. If you have a question to send, simply use the “contact” icon at the bottom of his bio box.
PressProsMagazine.com readers have questions. The Chickster has answers. To borrow some song lyrics from the immortal Shirley Ellis, it’s time to get right down to the real nitty gritty.
Q: Chick, who do you see the Bengals taking with the Nos. 17 and 21 picks in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night? - Anthony in Troy
A: The two studs I want for the Bengals are Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill. Cincinnati has five first-round corners on their roster, but one is injured (Leon Hall) and the other four are old. The Bengals need a playmaker to complement Pro Bowler A.J. Green. Hill (6-4, 215) is the next Chris Henry.
Q: Chick, please talk about the overall strength of this draft in terms of talent that could actually compete for positions and help the Bengals. Thanks! - Joe, St. Paris
A: The strength of this draft — and any draft, really — won’t be determined until five years down the road when we see which players bubble to the surface as studs and which players drop to the depths as duds. It’s the Year of the Quarterback — again. The Bengals hope QB Ryan Tannehill goes high, forcing more great players to fall their way. Know this: The Bengals’ first- and second-round picks will be expected to start right away.
Q: Hey, Chick, why do I get the impression that owner Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis are feeling better about themselves and their current personnel than they have a right to. I get the feeling they’re going to justify their picks with the old “best player on the board” explanation. Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer has the Bengals selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro with their first pick. Seriously? - Who-Dey Tryin’ To Fool?
A: The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991. So I get your point that the bosses shouldn’t walk around with their chests all puffed out. However, the Bengals are a playoff team with great young talent. This is their time to shine. They did a good job in free agency. Now they must draft well. As much as I like Stanford guard David DeCastro, I secretly hope he’s off the board. Why? Because guards don’t score touchdowns!
Q: Does Jerome Simpson officially qualify now as a first-round bust by the Bengals? - Mike in Wheelersburg
A: Simpson can’t be considered a first-round bust because he was drafted in the second round (No. 46 overall) in 2008 out of Coastal Carolina. I blame the Bengals for not getting him on the field sooner. I blame Simpson for the marijuana bust that cost him millions in free agency this year.
Q: Hi Chick. Two questions: Will Leon Hall be able to come back like he was before he got hurt? And have the Bengals helped themselves enough with free agent signings? - Ray in Huber Heights
A: A cornerback has to run as fast as a wide receiver, cover like a blanket and tackle like a linebacker. A torn Achilles is almost fatal to a corner, who often has to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage, backpedal, turn his hips and accelerate quickly. Hall is on the mend, but it’s hard to believe he’ll be ready to return to form this year. That’s why the club signed Terence Newman, Jason Allen and Adam “Pacman” Jones to go with Hall and Nate Clements. That’s FIVE former first-round corners on the same roster. The Bengals helped themselves in free agency, but not enough. The draft will do the rest.
Q: The secondary is not good. Terence Newman is old. Will the Bengals target immediate impact help in the draft? — Frank in Pontiac, Ill.
A: Yes, indeed, they will. Two cornerbacks — Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore — are on their radar. The club also needs a hybrid safety to compete with Reggie Nelson and Taylor Mays. Don’t count out Newman at corner. He’s an oldie (turns 34 on Sept. 4) but goodie who still has life in his legs.
Q: Was interested to read your recent column where you disagreed with Roger Goodell and the penalties levied against the Saints. Now they’re talking about doing away with kickoffs in the NFL. What’s next? — Scott in Portsmouth
A: If I ruled the world, the NFL would have two kickoffs — one to start the game and the other to start the second half. Two kickoffs would cut down the number of concussions and keep an exciting play in the game. What’s next? Something needs to be done about extra-point kicks. They’re virtually automatic. Here’s a suggestion: Make the PATs more difficult by snapping the ball from the 5- or 10-yard line instead of the 2.
Q: Chick, going into the draft, how would you rate the Bengals’ personnel with the rest of the AFC North? — Tim K., Troy
A: I rate the Bengals’ personnel on par with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, and superior to the Cleveland Browns. We can talk about personnel “on paper” all we want. The proof will surface on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays this fall. There’s a fine line between great, good and mediocre in the NFL. The first half of the Bengals’ schedule is beautiful. The second half is ugly. They can’t afford to “hit the wall” and struggle like they did in 2011.
Q: Do you like the signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and should the Bengals trade up and draft Trent Richardson? Cleveland would have fallen for it. — Mike North, Vandalia
A: I like the signing of “The Law Firm” because of his versatility as a rusher and receiver. That combination makes him ideal for the West Coast offense. At the same time, I drool over Richardson. He’s perfect for Cleveland’s brutal December weather.
Q: Chick, I see where the Bengals recently installed new turf at Paul Brown Stadium. What was I doing when they wore out the old turf? — Joe B.
A: Yes, even artificial surfaces wear down. After eight seasons competing on FieldTurf, which got installed in 2004, the Bengals scrapped the aging surface and replaced it with new artificial turf from UBU Sports of Dalton, Ga.
Q: PressPros is awesome! Will you give it some love the next time you’re on (WLW) radio with Eddie (Fingers) and Tracy (Jones)? — Matt, Columbus
A: Ah, I blew it. But rest assured I will do my part to promote PressPros the next time I hit the airwaves.
(Follow Chick Ludwig on Twitter @ChickLudwig)