NEW YORK -- Nothing goes right for the Cincinnati Bengals, even when they own the No. 1 choice in the NFL draft.
Yes, the Bengals will have the first pick Saturday. And they don't really want it.
Cincinnati has talked to the agent for Southern California's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer and the agents for Marshall QB Byron Leftwich and Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman. Typically, money already is an issue -- Palmer wants far more than Bengals president Mike Brown is willing to pay.
New coach Marvin Lewis would prefer a defensive player. He can always snare a quarterback to develop like Chris Simms or Dave Ragone in the second round while Jon Kitna tries to help the Bengals approach .500.
They already have been burned with a high-pick QB -- Akili Smith, third overall in 1999. Even Smith acknowledges that.
''It's been the worst script in the history of quarterbacks,'' he says.
Lewis, who made his reputation as a defensive coordinator, prefers Newman. He could get the CB or defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky if Cincinnati trades down.
The guess here is the Bengals stay put and take CARSON PALMER, QB, Southern California.
2. DETROIT. Nothing goes right for the Lions, either. They want CHARLES ROGERS, WR, Michigan State, although there are questions about a drug test he took at the scouting combine.
3. HOUSTON. The Texans decide not to trade up for Rogers and take ANDRE JOHNSON, WR, Miami, giving David Carr, last year's No. 1, a target.
4. CHICAGO. Kordell Stewart is a decent stopgap at QB and the Bears might get Chris Simms in the second round. DEWAYNE ROBERTSON, DT, Kentucky, fills an urgent need.
5. DALLAS. Bill Parcells loves Lawrence Taylor clones. But Terrell Suggs' disappointing times in the 40-yard dash mean Parcells instead will go with TERENCE NEWMAN, CB, Kansas State, an instant stopper at a position that killed the Cowboys last season.
6. ARIZONA. The Cardinals got Emmitt Smith to sell tickets. They'll try to sell more with a local, TERRELL SUGGS, DE, Arizona State, whose 4.85 40-yard dash times don't wipe away his 24 sacks last season.
7. MINNESOTA. The Vikings would love to take Suggs, Robertson or Newman. They ''settle'' for JIMMY KENNEDY, DT, Penn State, whose only problem is a tendency to eat too much.
8. JACKSONVILLE. Mark Brunell can't go on forever. BYRON LEFTWICH, QB, Marshall.
9. CAROLINA. Coach John Fox likes big guys like JORDAN GROSS, OT, Utah.
10. BALTIMORE. Brian Billick won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer. KYLE BOLLER, QB, Cal, has been moving up the draft board.
11. SEATTLE. The Seahawks were the worst team in the NFL against the run last season. KEVIN WILLIAMS, DT, Oklahoma State.
12. ST. LOUIS. The Rams still need defense. With Aeneas Williams a major question mark and Dre' Bly gone, they take MARCUS TRUFANT, CB, Washington State.
13. NEW YORK JETS. The Jets' linebackers are aging and slow. BOSS BAILEY, LB, Georgia, is neither.
14. NEW ENGLAND. Bill Belichick has added defense through free agency and gets more: JOHNATHAN SULLIVAN, DT, Georgia, to play next to former college teammate Richard Seymour.
15. SAN DIEGO. The run on defensive linemen continues with WILLIAM JOSEPH, DT, Miami.
16. KANSAS CITY. The offseason has been devoted to improving the defense. ANDRE WOOLFOLK, CB, Oklahoma, is the latest addition.
17, 18. NEW ORLEANS, Another couple of picks to package and move up. Or the Saints will take TROY POLAMALU, S, Southern California, and JEROME McDOUGLE, DE, Miami.
19. NEW ENGLAND. More defense: E.J. HENDERSON, LB, Maryland.
20. DENVER. Mike Shanahan usually gets offensive linemen lower. But KWAME HARRIS, OT, Stanford, fits here.
21. CLEVELAND. The Browns have done nothing about their OL since they returned to the NFL in 1999. ERIC STEINBACH, G, Iowa.
22. NEW YORK JETS. They signed Curtis Conway to replace Laveranues Coles, but TAYLOR JACOBS, WR, Florida is the long-term solution.
23. BUFFALO. The Bills gave up their first pick for Drew Bledsoe, then got this one for Peerless Price. KENNY PETERSON, DT, Ohio State, helps the defensive rebuilding.
24. INDIANAPOLIS. Another defensive unit that needs help. MIKE DOSS, S, Ohio State.
25. NEW YORK GIANTS. GM Ernie Accorsi has moved up in the first round the last two years and it could happen again. MICHAEL HAYNES, DE, Penn State provides much-needed DL depth.
26. SAN FRANCISCO. Defensive line needs rebuilding. But there are DLs lower, and BRYANT JOHNSON, WR, Penn State is needed to complement Terrell Owens.
27. PITTSBURGH. Tommy Maddox is fine for now, but the Steelers' future is REX GROSSMAN, QB, Florida.
28. TENNESSEE. Eddie George won't go on forever. LARRY JOHNSON, RB, Penn State, the first running back in a draft that lacks quality at the position.
29. GREEN BAY. Assuming Grossman's gone, they'll look lower for Brett Favre's eventual successor, perhaps even home-state hero Brooks Bollinger. Defense here: TY WARREN, DT, Texas A&M.
30. PHILADELPHIA. A pass rusher to replace Hugh Douglas. CHRIS KELSAY, DE, Nebraska.
31, 32. OAKLAND. Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are nearing the end of superb careers. KELLEY WASHINGTON, WR, Tennessee, and a classic Raiders pick: WILLIS McGAHEE, RB, Miami, who would have been in the top five if he hadn't torn up his knee in the national title game.
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