The Cincinnati Bengals front office has long been the butt of jokes throughout the NFL. Ever since assuming control of the team, Mike Brown has operated with by far the most spartan front office and scouting department in the league.
For many, that has been the glaring weakness in the franchise which has had more than its share of draft flops over the past two decades. From David Klingler to Akili Smith to Reinard Wilson and John Copeland, no team has squandered more top draft picks over the past two decades than Cincinnati.
With the retirement of Director of Football of Operations, Jim Lippincott, however, it appears that the Bengals may be engaging in a major upgrade in their player personnel department.
Last week, it was reported that the Bengals had hired former UCLA Director of Operations Steven Radicevic as their new West Coast scout. That report was also accompanied by the speculation that Radicevic wouldn't be the last new scout announced for the team.
If so, this would be a major step forward for the Bengals. While other teams have employed scouting departments of a dozen or so, the Bengals have gone with Lipincott and their coaching staff. What that has meant is limited exposure for the team. Not only have they been less likely to find "diamonds in the rough" in later rounds, the fact that they might only get to see a player work out once or twice while other teams are seeing players multiple times has meant the Bengals were more vulnerable to seeing only part of the picture when evaluating talent.
It has also meant that the team has missed the boat several times with regard to character issues and practice habits. It's no coincidence that the Bengals have had their best drafts when they've had the privilege of coaching in the Senior Bowl (like in 2011). The more times a team gets to see a player, the more likely their evaluation of that player will be accurate.
In the last year we've seen Mike Brown spend on free agents, proactively sign key players to long-term contracts, draft well and now add to his scouting department. It would appear that either Brown is finally starting to "get it" or others like Marvin Lewis and daughter Katie Blackburn are holding more sway with the Bengals' owner.
Either way, it portends better days for the Bengals franchise.
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