Praise Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff for devising and sticking with an NFL Draft gameplan, evident by the positive reaction and implementation of recent selections leading to Cincinnati's recent successes. Praise Mike Brown and the Bengals executive office for allowing the process to happen organically, without familiar interference that would otherwise upset the team's successful gameplan.
Yet hidden in the background may be the most valuable player of all.
Director of Player Personnel, Duke Tobin.
"Duke (Tobin) has done a tremendous job of moving into the role and directing this, integrating the coaches’ opinions and being more efficient at selections," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It’s tight, it works."
Tobin joined the Bengals in 1999 as a scout, becoming the director of player personnel in 2002. After Jim Lippincott retired following the 2011 season to return to coaching at Moeller High School, Cincinnati distributed his duties of Director of Football Operations around the organization. In other words, he wasn't replaced. But Tobin's influence continues to increase.
"I’ve been very impressed with Duke from the very onset," Lewis said at the NFL Combine in February. "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."
It's not a singular effort. It's not just Lewis, nor Tobin. Not just the coaching staff or the team's improved scouting department. It's been a team effort. Yet if a day were to arrive when Cincinnati announced a new position of general manager that wouldn't be held by Mike Brown, Tobin would probably by your guy.
Along with working dynamically and naturally with the Bengals coaching staff, Tobin leads a scouting department of six people, including three consultants where his father Bill, a former general manager for the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, helps out the organization.
Tobin's thriving success in his current role and the NFL lockout two years ago, has also allowed Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis to visit more campuses during the predraft process to scout players. "I have enjoyed getting back into the process. The lockout showed me what I have been missing. Now that the offseason starts later I am able to fit things in," Lewis told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
A team effort.