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Bengals had 'heavy interest' in Michael Burton before Lions got him

Michael Burton was someone the Bengals may have wanted to draft late or sign as an undrafted free agent, but the Lions ended up with him.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Were the Bengals interested in another fullback/h-back to compete with Ryan Hewitt?

That may be the case with former Rutgers fullback Michael Burton. According to Burton himself, the Bengals were among a handful of teams who really interested in him.

"I had heavy interest and dinner with the [Cincinnati] Bengals. I also had the local things with the [New York] Jets and Giants. So I had pretty good interest going in. I was just hoping for the best. I went in with an open mind and I was just very excited I got picked up by an awesome team."

Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey was actually at the Rutgers Pro Day to workout Burton. But, Caskey was probably also there to get a good look at now-Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft.

The 5'11", 242-pound Burton ended up being drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round, despite the fact he was projected to go undrafted this year. Like Hewitt, Burton was a solid blocking fullback in college who was used as an h-back. Burton caught 34 passes for 299 yards and two scores over the past two years.

What made him even more attractive to the Bengals was his leadership and character, something they place a higher value on than most NFL teams. Here's part of his ESPN scouting report, which gave Burton the highest rating possible for 'intangibles':

Voted 2014 team captain by teammates. Hard worker. Earned the Paul Robeson Award - presented annually to that individual whose performance, leadership and dedication on and off the field during his career has had the greatest impact on Rutgers football. Member of several special teams units and potential to develop into core special teams'

Burton was someone the Bengals may have wanted to draft late or sign as an undrafted free agent, but it was the Lions who ended up landing him.