The Cincinnati Bengals may not address the safety position this year. Reggie Nelson is entrenched at one spot, while young guys George Iloka and Shawn Williams battle with the newly signed veteran Danieal Manning for time at the other spot. There are talented players on the back end of the secondary in Cincinnati, but they have yet to put it together for the most part. Depending on how the draft plays out, the Bengals might just find an opportunity to add another safety.
1. Jimmie Ward: Ward isn’t a big, physical safety like some of the past Bengals picks at the position. However, he is a pure playmaker who makes the team that drafts him better. He’s also versatily, possessing the ability to shut down the back half of the field, as well as the ability to step into the slot and cover receivers. He may not make it to the Bengals, even in round one.
2. Deone Bucannon: Bucannon is a strong player who hits like a truck. His ability to also track the ball and make plays make him attractive to a team like Cincinnati. He also has excellent range. He does miss tackles from time to time, trying to make the highlight reel hit, and isn’t as fluid as teams would like, but he is as talented as any safety in the draft.
3. Dion Bailey: Another versatile safety, Bailey can be moved around, much like the Bengals are currently trying to do with Mays. With previous linebacker experience, Bailey could find a role in Cincinnati in nickle defenses. He also has excellent hands and good vision, so he will force his fair share of turnovers as well.
4. Ed Reynolds: The Bengals can always use athletic paymakers, and Reynolds fits the description. He has nice size, at 6’2″, and he has a knack for getting to the right spot. He’s effective in run support, but he is also solid in the passing game, and can play the ball when it’s in the air. If he is there in round three, the Bengals could take him.
5. Craig Loston: Loston has some flaws to his game, but could be an option as a late-round project. He has all the necessary speed and size, but he has to learn to play under control. He gets to the ball quickly, and can deliver punishing hits, but needs to wrap up and just learn to tackle guys. He also will need to improve in coverage.