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Thornton: Jay Hayes Conducts Defensive Line Drills During Pitt's Pro Day With Defensive End Jabaal Sheard

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At some point before the NFL Draft, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will visit Cincinnati. The issue of defensive linemen is based off speculation that incorporates the team's finances. Tank Johnson is scheduled to make $2.25 million in 2011 and $4.9 million in 2012 and 2013. The money, we believe, is a bit much for a defensive tackle that struggled against the run, shown to be average all around. You could make the same argument for Domata Peko, who is scheduled to earn $2.9 million in base salary in 2011 and $9.4 million combined from 2012-2014. And at defensive end, with Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom scheduled to make a combined $17.95 million combined over the next two seasons, the team could see their lack of production against the cost with their salaries.

So the team being interested in defensive linemen shouldn't be a surprise. Even though Michael Johnson was able to put a good amount of pressure on quarterbacks and with Carlos Dunlap breaking the franchise mark with 9.5 quarterback sacks, the Bengals still want more production from their defensive ends. And that includes adding another defensive end through the NFL Draft.

According to John Thornton, Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard could be one.

While attending Pittsburgh and West Virginia's Pro Day, Thornton wrote:

Sheard mainly did position drills since he is coming off of post season elbow surgery.  He stood on his 4.69 combine 40 time.  Bengals DL coach Jay Hayes put Sheard through his position drills and then he was put through LB drills by the Bears DC.

Thornton projected that Sheard could be a LaMarr Woodley type of player in the NFL.

ESPN DraftTracker ranks Sheard as the 12th best defensive end prospect in this year's NFL Draft, grading above average in production, size, durability, against the run, versatility and instincts.

Possesses above-average core and upper-body strength. In addition, plays with leverage when defending the edge. Can jar blockers with a strong and explosive initial punch. Also uses hands well in combat to control blockers and redirect to get involved in play. However, will occasionally be engulfed by bigger and more powerful OTs when caught in a phone booth situation.

Sheard's intangibles were graded below average.

Described as a quiet and humble player that leads by example. Awarded a bravery medal for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home in Florida when in high school. But he was involved in a fight in July of 2010 in downtown Pittsburgh. Reportedly was ordered by police to stop but refused before being struck by a billy club several times. Continued to fight with suspect before throwing him through a glass door of an art store. Sheard was eventually pepper sprayed, arrested and charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest. 

The versatility could go a long way for the Bengals, who need an outside linebacker and defensive end. Two birds with one stone. And a LaMarr Woodley type of player? Yes, please.