This is the time of year in the NFL calendar that rumors run rampant and teams toss out smokescreens to throw other teams off of their scent. Team officials can feign interest in a player so another team drafts him, allowing a different player (one they actually want) to potentially slide to their spot. Other times, teams downplay their interest in players, giving the impression that they're not intending to draft him so other teams won't leapfrog them in draft position and snag a player that they truly covet.
Well, we found an interesting tidbit of information from an NFL draft insider while scouring Twitter. Joe Everett of www.rookiedraft.com spoke with scouts from two AFC North teams and they were both very high on Boise State University running back, Doug Martin.
#AFCNorth scouts I've spoken with, both were Doug Martin supporters + indicated a strong interest as a 1st round target #NFLDraftOf the two
Our own Joe Goodberry replied to the tweet asking if one of the scouts was with the Bengals. Everett's response was terse, but very revealing:
@JoeGoodberry Bengals?Yes RT
If this is true (and we suspect that it is, otherwise we wouldn't be posting it), it makes a lot of sense once we connect the dots. First, Jay Gruden has said numerous times this offseason that the team is looking to get better at the running back position and will utilize a "committee approach", where the "hot" back will get the most touches. Second, BSU's Pro Day workout was held over a week ago and both Gruden and Marvin Lewis were personally in attendance, likely symbolizing their heavy interest in "the muscle hamster". Lastly, though they've signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis, he isn't a dynamic playmaker and the other back that played a prominent role in the offense last season, Bernard Scott, largely underwhelmed.
Lewis claimed at the Owner's meetings that he likes what his team has done in free agency because it has really opened up the draft possibilities for them. With Martin solidifying himself as the the second-best running back prospect in the draft, it's becoming more and more apparent that he won't be available to the Bengals in the second round. Aside from being a possibility for Cincinnati at No.21, he could also land with the Browns at No.22, Steelers at No.24 or the Patriots at No.31.
Regardless of whether you're hot or cold about this news on Martin, it has got to be nice for Bengals fans to hear that their scouts are being witnessed out and about and are speaking on prospects, since they added two new ones to their previously paltry staff.