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Top Players Franchised, Scouting Cornerbacks in Draft

If you believed the Bengals should go after Asante Samuel, then you're out of luck. The Patriots franchised Samuel Friday night. The Bears also franchised Lance Briggs -- Windy City Gridiron reacts. That makes three so far when you include Justin Smith. The Colts are expected to franchise Dwight Freeney before Thursday -- the deadline to franchise/transition players.

It's not like any of that really matters anyway. The Bengals won't go after a top-tier free agent -- Lewis admitted that already. So we can put that to bed now.

Moving on...

Geoff Hobson says if character was a big deal in the 2001 draft then the Bengals would have likely looked over Chad Johnson and T.J Houshmandzadeh.

Mocking with Hair...

Mel Kiper released his first mock draft last week and had the Bengals picking up Leon Hall -- Cornerback out of Michigan. On the Clock Draft has Hall as the best ranked cornerback in this draft. They say:

Leon Hall has a great deal of experience against top competition, having started the past four seasons at cornerback for the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten. He is a great all-around corner who does a lot of things well. Hall is a true "playmaker" in the defensive backfield who has excellent cover skills. He is an aggressive, physical corner who has enough speed and athleticism to stay with just about any receiver that lines up across from him and he possesses good ball skills. He locates the ball well and almost always puts himself in good position to make a play on it while it’s in the air. He has good body control when going up for the ball and has soft hands. Hall is also a good on the blitz and is an aggressive run defender with solid tackling technique. He also has the ability to contribute as a punt returner as well. He lacks elite size and speed and will rely too much on his athleticism at times, causing him to give up a big play. At this point Leon Hall is probably the most complete cornerback in the draft. He has a good chance to become the first cornerback selected and a top 10 pick in the 2007 NFL draft.

ESPN's Draft Tracker says of Hall.

Strengths: An experienced, savvy and solid all-around cornerback prospect. He's a fluid and smooth athlete. Possesses adequate-to-good size and plays even bigger than his size would indicate. An aggressive and tough cornerback. Shows very good instincts and will do an excellent job of reading quarterbacks' eyes in coverage. He is at his best when working with some cushion. Breaks quickly and shows very good burst when closing on the ball in front of him. He won't shy down from a physical matchup.

Weaknesses: Lack of elite top-end speed is the primary knock. Lacks the acceleration to recover from mistakes versus faster NFL receivers. Comes from a system in which he typically gives a lot of cushion in coverage. Seems to be more comfortable coming forward then he is when asked to turn-and-run in press coverage.

Overall: Hall lacks elite speed, which was exposed in his 2006 matchup versus Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr. However, Hall is a physical cover corner with a very good combination of size, athleticism, instincts and ball skills. He will fit best in a zone-heavy scheme in the NFL but he also can succeed playing mostly man-to-man coverage, so long as he gets deep-support versus upper-echelon speed receivers.

Todd McShay has the Bengals picking Darrelle Revis - Cornerback out of Pitt.

The Bengals will be targeting the top defensive prospect available with this pick and Revis fits the bill. He is a big cornerback who will support the run and show quality instincts and athleticism in coverage. Revis' value is also helped by his potential as a return specialist.

On the Clock says of Revis:

Darrelle has been starting at cornerback for the Pittsburgh Panthers since his true freshman season in 2004. During that time he has proven to be a very durable player who hasn’t missed a single game due to injury. He has an excellent combination of size and speed for a cornerback. His size allows him to matchup against bigger, more physical receivers while his speed allows him to stay with just about any receiver that lines up against him, as well as recover when an opponent does gain separation on him. He has a fluid backpedal and he is quick to break on the ball. He has good ball skills and he makes a lot of plays on the ball while it’s in the air. He isn’t afraid to support the run. He is a hard hitter and a solid tackler. Darrelle was also a very good punt returner at Pit who could contribute in that capacity in the NFL. He does have some things to work on when it comes to technique as he tends to rely on size and athletic ability alone too often. Darrelle Revis has not yet reached his full potential; however, he does have a great deal of upside and should be among the top cornerbacks selected. He projects as a first round pick in the 2007 NFL draft.

Draft Tracker says of Revis:

Strengths: A tall, well-built cornerback with impressive athleticism for his size. He displays fluid hips and is smooth when changing directions. He is instinctive and does a great job of reading opposing quarterbacks' eyes. Displays better than average ball skills. Shows toughness and aggressiveness in press coverage.

Weaknesses: Lacks elite speed and quick-twitch athleticism. His hips are fluid but he doesn't display ideal lateral quickness. He will struggle to match-up one-on-one versus NFL's quicker and faster wide receivers. While he is elusive and shows some burst as a return man, he lacks ideal acceleration in that department.

Revis is generally ranked as the second best cornerback in the draft.