The Bengals could look in house to find their next safety. Last year, the Bengals drafted Boise State safety George Iloka, a hard hitting safety in the fifth round. At 6’4″ and 225, Iloka has the size to match up with tight ends around the league, and with a 4.52 40-yard dash, Iloka can run with most wide receivers in the league. Iloka did not get much playing time last season, with Clements and Crocker getting the majority of the snaps, but if the two of them are not re-signed, Iloka is in a great position to get quality reps at starting safety during camp.
One move that may be an effective one for the Bengals is to move Dre Kirkpatrick to the safety position. One of the biggest concerns surrounding Kirkpatrick coming out of Alabama last year was his ability to backpedal and his ability to change direction. Kirkpatrick is at his best in zone coverage, and moving him to safety would allow the Bengals to utilize his talents more effectivelty. This would also allow the Bengals to go out and draft a cornerback in the second or third round like Washington CB Desmond Trufant or Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer.
Jan 26, 2013; Mobile, AL, USA; Senior Bowl north squad defensive back Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International (37) prior to kickoff of a game against the Senior Bowl south squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of the draft, if the Bengals decide not to go in house for the safety position, this year’s draft class is filled with talented players at the position. In the early rounds, guys like Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro, Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien, and Florida’s Matt Elam are all great value picks. In the third and fourth rounds, Georgia’s Baccari Rambo or Southern Cal’s TJ McDonald could be great pickups if the team decides to address the position during the later rounds.
The Bengals are very close to taking the next step to greatness. Improving the secondary position, in particular at safety, the Bengals can put themselves in the same conversation as the elite defenses and teams in the NFL today.
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