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Bernard drafted, Smith re-signed

Bernard drafted, Smith re-signed

After just two picks into their 2013 NFL Draft, the Bengals moved on two of their biggest off-season needs when they beefed up their passing game and running game in the first 37 picks. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard followed Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert into the fold when the Bengals took him with the 37th pick as Friday night's second round unfolded.

The Bengals were also believed to be ready announce a multi-year deal with right tackle Andre Smith in conjunction with the announcement of the Bernard pick, meaning they addressed their three biggest concerns on offense in less than 24 hours.

The 5-9, 205-pound Bernard, a red-shirt sophomore after he missed his freshman season with an ACL injury,  could be the Bengals' answer to Ravens running back Ray Rice in their effort to complement the hard-charging BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He's got Rice's low center of gravity and has excellent hands catching the ball.

 When the Tar Heels switched to a spread last season, Bernard caught 47 balls for five touchdowns after he pounded out 5.3 yards per carry in a more conventional set the year before. He flashed all kinds of versatility and added two touchdowns for punt returns during his ruin at Chapel Hill.

The pick shows the Bengals think he can hold up in a partnership with Green-Ellis.

"Very effective on screens and misdirection….possesses similar vision and run instincts and even better hands (than Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew)," according to Pro Football Weekly's draft review. "He does not run with the same tackling-breaking power, urgency, or body lean….Instant impact utility back who could wear down in fast if thrust into an every-down role."

But Bernard did have 515 touches in his 23 games, good for 22.3 per game.

 

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