Smitty the sackman
Bengals take Mizzou DE Smith with No. 4 pick
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 9:05 PM
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Sixteen games, 26 sacks. Of all their lousy statistics from last season, the Cincinnati Bengals figured that was the one that needed fixing the most.
Justin Smith's job is to put some sneer into the NFL's meekest pass rush.
The Bengals took the defensive end from Missouri in the first round of the draft Saturday. Instead of using the fourth overall pick on offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker, they chose to go with a pass rusher who reminded them of defensive line coach Tim Krumrie.
"We are content. We are satisfied. We are pleased that it went this way," general manager Mike Brown said. "[Walker] is a player we respect, but we thought Justin Smith was someone that overall was just a little bit more helpful to us."
The NFL's most forlorn franchise needs a lot of help. The Bengals had the fewest sacks in the league last season and an inept passing game that also ranked as the league's worst.
They tried to do something about the offense by taking Chad Johnson -- Keyshawn Johnson's cousin -- in the second round. Johnson is an unpolished receiver with only one year of big-school experience.
They also were thinking of the passing game when they took lowly regarded tight end Sean Brewer from San Jose State in the third round. Brewer is fast, but comes with a lot of concerns.
The overriding concern on Saturday was the defensive line, which managed a combined total of 10 sacks last season. Smith had 11 at Missouri last year.
"This guy was a dominant player on a team that was not that good, a team that struggled," defensive coordinator Mark Duffner said. "So it's not like the supporting cast around him was one where he was feeding off that."
Smith moves from a 3-8 college team to the NFL's worst team since 1990, one that has gone 4-12 each of the last two seasons. The lack of a consistent pass rush has been a common thread.
The Bengals felt good about Smith after Krumrie, the nose tackle on their 1988 Super Bowl team, made a hands-on evaluation. Krumrie sizes up prospects by grabbing them and shoving them around, seeing how they hold their own.
"The wrestling match was something different," Smith said, chuckling. "I've never experienced that. He starts pushing on you, and you don't know how hard to push back or anything. He just kind of came after me and I just had to react.
"I knew he was an old player and that's how he judges players, sees how tough they are. He just tries to beat the guy down, and he does a good job of it."
Krumrie, who was wearing cowboy boots and blue jeans for the workout, was thoroughly impressed by how Smith handled it.
"He is a Tim Krumrie-style player," Krumrie said. "No matter what the odds are, he's going to be on the field giving you 100 percent. As a football player, no matter what the score is, I'm going to come to play. He's that style. No matter what the odds are, he will fight you."
He'll learn all about facing long odds in Cincinnati.
"I don't know much about life in Cincinnati, but I know they've got a tremendous upside," Smith said.
Johnson was just glad to be somewhere in the NFL after a college career marred by academic problems. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver played at Langston and Santa Monica before catching 33 passes last season at Oregon State in his only year of Division I football.
He's a much different type of receiver and person than his cousin, Keyshawn.
"I'm more of a finesse, speed type of receiver," Chad said. "Keyshawn is more of a physical type. We don't play alike at all.
"He's very different as a person. He's more the talking type. I like top keep my mouth shut and lead by example."
Brewer, who played defensive tackle and tight end at San Jose State, wasn't considered a top prospect. The analyst who did biographies for the NFL's media Web site said he's out of shape and drops a lot of passes. His main plus is his speed.
He didn't expect to be taken so early in the draft.
"I'm kind of surprised at how soon in the third round," Brewer said. "I'm happy just with the opportunity that's been given to me. If it was the third round or as a free agent, I'm ecstatic right now to play in the NFL."