Last season started with high hopes for the Bengals first round draft pick from 2007. He had just signed a contract extension through 2015 and after the departure of Jonathan Joseph, he was undoubtedly the number 1 cornerback on the Bengals roster. Then 9 games into the Bengals eventual playoff run Leon Hall found himself on the injured reserve after suffering a torn Achilles tendon that abruptly ended his season.
I imagine watching his team from the sideline endure a heartbreaking loss to the Houston Texans in the first round of the playoffs has done nothing but provide motivation to the 6th year standout from the University of Michigan, particularly when poor play from the defensive backs in that game was the primary cause of defeat that day. After successfully rehabbing his injury over the off-season Leon Hall should be back and ready to go at the start of training camp on July 27th.
The expectations for Leon and the rest of the defensive backs are going to be at a new level this season, partly because of their dismal performance in the playoffs and partly because of the talent and depth that the Bengals now have at the position with the addition of first round pick Dre Kirckpatrick out of Alabama and the off-season acquisitions of Jason Allen and Terrence Newman. This added depth at CB only adds to the pressure Leon Hall will be dealing with at the start of training camp along with coming off a season ending injury last year. That being said, I fully expect Leon Hall’s professionalism to show through during camp and assume he will have the starting number 1 spot on the roster going into the regular season.
Leon Hall will have to improve on his performance over the last two seasons and have a career year similar to his production in 2009 (6 INTs, 71 tackles, 2 FF) to remain the starter throughout the season and barring serious injury, I think that will be the case for the 5’11″ CB from Vista, California. I think with the inexperience of Kirckpatrick and as Allen and Newman have a combined 17 years in the pros, Leon Hall will be the guy opposing offenses fear the most out of this all of a sudden very talented Bengals secondary.