Marvin Lewis was seen at the University of North Carolina Pro Day today, thanks to a picture provided by one of the UNC equipment managers.
UNC usually cranks out a steady stream of talented NFL players, and this year is no different. Guard Jonathan Cooper may be taken in the first round, and the same could be said for running back Gio Bernard and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. The Bengals might also be interested in offensive tackle Brennan Williams or linebacker Kevin Reddick in the middle rounds.
But, since the Bengals likely won't take a defensive tackle or offensive guard early, it seems that the Bengals mostly came to see Gio Bernard, the do-it-all running back that reminds some of Doug Martin or even Ray Rice.
Bernard was seen talking with a Bengals scout in the locker room, thanks to another picture provided by a UNC equipment manager.
Gio Bernard and the Bengals seem like a perfect fit. Bernard is projected to go in the late first or early second round game, which is where the Bengals have two picks (at No. 21 or No. 37). They have plenty of flexibility to trade up or down for Bernard, if they feel that he is the ideal guy to pair with current starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Marvin Lewis already admitted that the Bengals would take a running back in this draft during league meetings in Arizona last week.
Our own Joe Goodberry has Bernard ranked as his number one running back in this draft class, and had this to say about him back in January:
1. Giovani Bernard - 5'8" 202 lbs. - North Carolina
Gio Bernard is blessed with good speed, agility and acceleration to go with an ideal power/balance ratio. His best attribute is everything that makes up the Pre-LOS ability. Think of Arian Foster and his ability to see the hole being created on the backside, yet he strings along the linebacker, presses the hole then violently cuts back into the open field. He's the best running back of this class when it comes to that. He will not be dependent on a good offensive line. He's also a great receiver and return man. He's had average success with ball security, fumbling once every 85 touches.
Gio's biggest knock is his health/durability. While he's only combined for about 550 touches, Bernard missed all of 2010 with a knee injury. He then missed a handful of games in 2012 with a knee issue. He'll need to pass a physical at the Combine but once he does, I'm not sure I see a major flaw in his game.
Size/Style Comparison: Ray Rice
Draft Projection: Late 1st - Early 2nd
What do you think? Do you want Gio Bernard in stripes?