Throughout the history of the Cincinnati Bengals, many have made them an easy target for their "mom and pop shop" ways in running their franchise. Some of the aspects that have come under fire haven't been in the Paul Brown era as much as they have in the era of his son, Mike. Since he took over from his father, the NFL ushered in an industrial revolution of sorts, where almost ever team hired an army of internal staff to help them out with player personnel decisions and the draft.
Not the Bengals.
Though they added a couple of new scouts last year, they have yet to fill one critical front office position--Director of Football Operations. And, let us not forget that Mike Brown still carries two business cards--one as the Owner of the club and the other as General Manager. So, what's the key to the team's draft success with such limited resources?
Many in the Bengals organization point to Duke Tobin. Currently, Tobin holds the title of "Director of Player Personnel", but we at CJ believe that he could be a frontrunner to hold the G.M. title if Brown ever strips it from his own duties. While speaking with the media on Friday at the Scouting Combine, Marvin Lewis praised the job that Tobin has done of late. Geoff Hobson abides by the conjecture that Mike Brown is shying away from "the coaching-centric scouting philosophy that he (Mike Brown) seems to be tweaking".
Lewis shed some light on Tobin's growing influence during his media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine, much like he did last year after the Bengals put four players in the Pro Bowl 24 years old or younger.
"He’s done a very good job of putting the information together, the cross-checking of things, the organization of things. He’s really streamlined it, I think both personnel and coaching-wise," Lewis said of Tobin. "We have a pretty good blueprint for what we’re looking for what we do on offense, defense and special teams. We’ve shown some flexibility that for whatever reason we may have had a little higher grade on and were available to us when it was our turn to pick. We’ve done a great job of doing what those guys have done on their college campus and tried to give them at least that No. 1 thing to do when we got them on our field."
What's really telling is the next statement by Lewis on Tobin. For a lack of better phrases, Lewis basically called Tobin one his most trusted confidants in the draft process. In the Lewis interview, it starts to become clearer just how valued Tobin is in the draft process:
"I’ve been very impressed with Duke from the very onset. He’s continued to grow. Mike has given him a great deal of responsibility and put him in charge of a lot of things," Lewis said. "He’s my liaison as far as what we do on the pro side, when we have injuries (during the season) and he’s directing the scouting efforts throughout and making sure that everything’s done and the cross-checks are done so we’re able to do everything we have to evaluate these guys."
Many have speculated that in Lewis' last two contract extensions, he wrestled away some power from Mike Brown and told him that some internal changes have to be made. One such change could be the passing more of the draft responsibility baton onto guys like Tobin and the new scouts from the coaching staff. With that likely comes with the easing of Tobin's job as Steve Radicevic took over his duty as west coast scout.
Though there hasn't been the complete overhaul with a slew of new internal hires, the times they are a changin'. Slowly. Let's hope that Tobin and the gang can keep their Midas touch going again in this year's draft.