'Tough' decision

John Murphy

In using their 2007 third-round pick to select former Virginia standout Ahmad Brooks in the NFL supplemental draft, the Cincinnati Bengals added a more physical presence at inside linebacker.

At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Brooks has the size to be physical and can be moved around on third down as a pass-rusher. He has shown glimpses of potentially being a playmaker as an inside linebacker, although the Cavaliers primarily played a 3-4 scheme instead of the base 4-3 defense the Bengals have employed.

With a number of talented linebackers, including David Pollack, Odell Thurman, Landon Johnson, Brian Simmons and now Brooks, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis could switch to more of a hybrid scheme or even convert to a 3-4. With one year remaining on defensive end Justin Smith's contract, the Bengals couldn't commit to the scheme full-time until 2007, but they can begin the transition this season.

"Coach Lewis already likes to use variations of the 3-4, but [I] believe they will still use a 4-3 base for this season," one team official said.

Brooks comes with some off-field baggage.

A former first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, Brooks reportedly failed drug tests at Virginia. According to his agent, Gregory Williams, Brooks passed five drug tests over a 10-week period leading up to his June 22 workout, where the test results were distributed to NFL personnel.

Brooks also suffered a number of injuries with the Cavaliers, including a knee problem that required surgery and cost him parts of six games last season. He finished his junior campaign with just 27 tackles and one sack.

The Cincinnati franchise has become well-known in recent years for giving second chances to players with character issues. Wide receiver Chris Henry, defensive end Frostee Rucker and linebacker A.J. Nicholson all faced legal issues before or after joining the team. For the 22-year-old Brooks, there is no better teacher, motivator and positive role model than linebackers coach Ricky Hunley, who played for the Denver Broncos and tried to recruit Brooks to Florida while coaching under Steve Spurrier.


  • Texas fullback Ahmard Hall will sign a two-year contract with the Tennessee Titans, and the deal could be done as early as Friday morning, according to Hall's agent, Vincent Taylor.

Hall, 26 and a former Marine, had contract offers from five teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants, but he decided his best opportunity was with the Titans, who have only one other true fullback on their roster (Troy Fleming). Hall will also be reunited with former Longhorns star Vince Young.

"It played a role in our decision, especially since (Hall) will be a little behind when training camp opens," Taylor said. "So being able to talk and speak to Vince on a regular basis over the next few weeks will help him get up to speed as fast as possible."

  • Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College linebacker David Dixon went undrafted, but three teams – the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Titans – have shown interest, according to Dixon's agent, Frank Murtha. Look for Dixon to sign a free-agent deal with the 49ers.
  • North Carolina State wide receiver/return man Richard Washington also went undrafted, but he has received a handful of calls among the 11 teams that contacted him before the supplemental draft. Agent Joel Turner expects his client to be offered a free-agent contract sometime next week before NFL training camps open.

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