CINCINNATI (AP) — Duke Tobin will run the show for the Cincinnati Bengals during this week’s NFL draft.
The team’s director of player personnel said on Thursday he doesn’t know yet which direction the Bengals will go with their first pick (28th overall) on Thursday night, but said he’s keeping all options and phone lines open.
“We’ll have 28 guys ranked and we’ll be ready to go,” he said. “We feel like there will be some good options for us. We just can’t control who it will be. But we’ll be ready no matter who goes ahead of us.”
Cincinnati has seven picks in this year’s draft.
Tobin said he’ll look at every position with that first pick, including running back.
Joe Mixon, the Bengals’ starting running back since 2017, pleaded not guilty last Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing over allegations that he threatened and pointed a gun at a woman in Cincinnati earlier this year.
Samaje Perine, Mixon’s longtime backup, signed a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos at the start of free agency last month.
“Just in general, any position group is hard to eliminate,” Tobin said. ”We’re open to any position that presents itself if they’re the best player available. And if they’re clearly the best player and they will have a role on our team, we’ll certainly consider it.
“I do probably eliminate specialists from that first-round category, but other than that, it’s hard to eliminate. And I don’t think we’ll be taking a quarterback up there.”
Tobin and the Bengals already have their signal-caller of the present and future in 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow.
In addition to preparing for the draft, Tobin is also in negotiations for a contract extension for the 2022 Pro Bowler.
Tobin’s also seeking to extend wide receiver Tee Higgins (2020 second-round pick) and linebacker Logan Wilson (2020 third-round pick), among others.
Tobin said he doesn’t have a timetable for when those deals will get done.
“It’s something we think about all the time,” he said. “The contract things, you can’t predict when and if they’ll get done. We’re working to try to have as many good players on our football team as we can and try to keep them as long as we can, the ones that are producing and really fit well here. We’re trying like heck to get those guys extended, renegotiated, however signed after their contract expires.”
Tobin said those open negotiations won’t necessarily affect his approach to this year’s draft.
“When we go into the draft, we’re still cognizant of what is important not only this year, but two years from now.
“We’re not a heavy-needs (team). Like, we’ve got to have a safety in the fifth round. We don’t do that. We let the fifth round come and see what the best players are.”
This draft will mark the fifth for Tobin alongside Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
It also will be another draft with many of the same scouts.
That continuity has led to an abundance of trust on draft day among the Cincinnati front office.
It has also led to back-to-back AFC North titles and consecutive deep runs in the playoffs.
“Duke’s approach is the right one in how he gathers opinions, and how he makes the decisions and how he factors in everybody and puts us in a really good position where we feel good about the guys that we bring in here,” Taylor said.
“There’s still more time. We’ve still got seven days of work left to get to that spot where you feel really good on Thursday. … But we’ll be ready.”