It seemed like it took long enough, but draft week is finally here. In three days we'll know who the Cincinnati Bengals are taking at No. 24. We'll also know if Jadeveon Clowney ends up getting drafted first overall, and if the Texans and another team work out a trade for that top spot.
Some of the biggest pre-draft questions will finally be answered.
It's about time.
As we get ready for the draft let's catch you up on a few things:
1. Catching up on the weekend. It was a bit of a busy weekend for myself and three other NFL Nation reporters, as we spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's first-of-its-kind Fan Fest. The event was billed as the single largest gathering of Hall of Famers outside of the annual induction weekend that takes place in Canton, Ohio, every year. The plan is for the Fan Fest to rotate to a different NFL city next year. We'll see where it ends up. Former Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Munoz was one of the many Hall of Famers we caught up with. We'll have some comments from him on the blog later Monday. Aside from the event, we also started on ESPN.com our onslaught of pre-draft content, including asking you who you might draft at No. 24. We'll have much more both online and on television leading up to the draft.
2. Looking back at last year. Naturally, this week also is a big one on the Bengals beat. Last Friday, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson published a highly detailed account of the drafting of current Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. Taken with the 37th overall pick last year, Bernard was one of the more intriguing selections the Bengals had in 2013. He and first-round pick Tyler Eifert were the only players from the draft class who saw regular playing and starting time. Defensive end Margus Hunt, who was drafted in the second round with Bernard, saw his share of action, too. From Bernard's pre-draft visits to the conversations coaches had about him in the lead-up to the draft to his return to North Carolina for its pro day earlier this year, Hobson takes a deep look at the running back's journey to Cincinnati.
3. Looking forward to this year. As attention turns to Thursday night, the Bengals' scouting and coaching staffs are all set with their work. Now, it's simply about seeing how long the players they want will stay on the board. The heavy scouting was done ages ago, and if necessary follow-up visits and chats have been conducted, as well. The only drama that exists now is the waiting game; waiting again to see which players will be available when the 24th pick rolls around. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. gives this look at how the Bengals have shifted their focus to this draft class and the creation of it.
4. Bridgewater at 24? No. Just no. Not happening. If you somehow missed it, one of the more interesting news nuggets from the weekend revolved around a tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen that set off a firestorm of chatter on social media, and that prompted me to write this Saturday. You've got to read the entire piece and not get rattled by the headline. Yes, there are some reasons as to why the Bengals would be compelled to explore Teddy Bridgewater and have some interest in him, but there's no reason to believe he would be picked at No. 24 when there are other players who likely will be taken off the board when that pick rolls around. Again, as I've been saying for the last couple of months, imagine the message that would send to Andy Dalton if the Bengals selected a first-round quarterback. He's been told he's the franchise quarterback and that he's not getting replaced. It's the same thing reporters have been told since the middle of last season. Why would the Bengals suddenly go back on their word? The answer? They wouldn't. The real interest in Bridgewater as a "fallback option" is if he happens to be available when all other Bengals targets are gone. You've got to believe in the first round especially that a few of those targets ahead of Bridgewater will be available.