NFL DRAFT: Bengals make cornerback with clean record top pick Print
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Saturday, 28 April 2007 11:52
NFL Headline News

 CINCINNATI (AP) -Leon Hall was exactly what the Cincinnati Bengals wanted - a cornerback with a lot of speed and no baggage.
For the second year in a row, the Bengals took a cornerback in the first round of the draft. They coveted Hall, who developed into one of the nation's best at Michigan while staying out of trouble.
``Everything is positive about this kid,'' defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said Saturday. ``This young individual is perfect for us right now.''
No team had to pay as much attention to character as the Bengals, who couldn't afford to bring in another player with problems. They had nine players arrested in a nine-month span, six of them draft picks from the last two years.
The 22-year-old cornerback has a clean past, something that Bengals coaches proudly and repeatedly pointed out after they took him with the 18th overall pick.
``He's an outstanding, strong-character, serious guy who wants to be great,'' defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle said.
Besides staying out of trouble, Hall is expected to significantly improve a defense that's dragged down the Bengals. They had one of the NFL's worst defenses last season, a recurring problem during Marvin Lewis' four years as head coach.
Their pass defense was particularly atrocious last season, finishing in a tie for last in the league. Cornerback Tory James was allowed to leave as a free agent - he signed with New England - after a disappointing season.
Deltha O'Neal also dropped off last season, when he was among the nine Bengals arrested.
Until last year, the Bengals had never used their top pick on a cornerback. Johnathan Joseph was the 24th overall pick out of South Carolina and started nine games, including the last seven. He will inherit James' spot across from O'Neal.
The biggest question about the 5-foot-11, 193-pound Hall was whether he could guard top-rate receivers. Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. and Southern California's Dwayne Jarrett had big games against him at the end of last season.
``In those games, there were a couple of plays where I put myself in bad positions prior to the snap, and I kind of set myself up for failure,'' Hall said.
The Bengals weren't overly concerned.
``In the Ohio State game, he waited too long to turn and run,'' Coyle said.
Hall and Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis were considered the top two cornerbacks available. The New York Jets made a trade with Carolina and moved up to 14th in the first round, where they took Revis.
Denver moved up to 17th - right before the Bengals - by trading with Jacksonville so it could take defensive end Jarvis Moss from Florida. That left Hall available to the Bengals, who didn't hesitate to make him their second top pick from Michigan. They also chose running back Chris Perry in the first round in 2004.
Hall understands that he'll be under a spotlight in Cincinnati for how he handles himself.
``I'm also a good character guy,'' Hall said, speaking to reporters from a family celebration in southern California. ``I know for a fact, knowing myself and the people I've put myself around, that I'm staying out of trouble and not having any trouble with that.''
 

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