Could Jayson DiManche provide the Bengals with the speed rusher they need? Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
When the Bengals approach the 2015 off-season there will be several needs to fill as well as depth to acquire at key positions due to the lengthy list of free agents the Bengals will look to re-sign in 2016; most notably, offensive tackle and safety will lead this group. This means the Bengals will need to draft well and find some struggling free agents that could benefit from the Bengals’ penchant for resurrecting lost careers.
Many fans would love to see the team acquire a speed rusher to help improve the Bengals lackluster pass rush. Historically, the Bengals have relied upon a dominant defensive line to get pressure onto quarterbacks while the other seven players benefit from its hard work. Timely blitzes have been incorporated of course, but this presence was missing from the team in 2014. It’s this missing piece that has led to many fans to yearn for a player who has a nose for blitzing and instilling fear in opposing quarterbacks.
Despite many believing the Bengals lack this presence, it’s entirely possible the Bengals already possess this speed, pass-rushing presence in Jayson DiManche.
The little known special teams ace has been largely overlooked by fans to date after coming to the team in inspiring fashion as an undrafted free agent in 2013. In fact, the only memory many fans have of the oft-overlooked DiManche is the scene from Hard Knocks where he gets the call from Marvin Lewis to inform him he made the roster.
Nonetheless, Jayson DiManche has now been with the Bengals for two years (though he missed the final four games and playoff game in 2014 due to a broken forearm) and he’s become a key member of the squad. During his rookie season, he became a key special teams player by racking up 14 tackles and a blocked punt against the Browns in Week 11. While becoming a special teams ace, the Bengals have simultaneously been training DiManche to become a more all-around outside linebacker by working on his coverage and run stopping skills.
Prior to arriving with the Bengals, DiManche was a utilized as a speed rusher for the Southern Illinois Salukis. Given that he was playing against inferior competition at the FBS level, DiManche proved to possess the necessary speed and relentless aggression it takes to be a quality rusher at the NFL level. He possesses great athleticism and agility when taking on blockers. Over the past couple of seasons, one would hope that the Bengals have also sought to develop DiManche’s hand techniques, which is something he didn’t have to utilize often at the college ranks; as can be seen in his highlight videos, he often relied on speed and athleticism very sound mechanics.
Based on the Bengals’ current roster, it seems the team would do well to unleash Jayson DiManche as the situational speed rusher they require. As idealistic as it is to develop him as an all-around linebacker, the team has more linebackers who possess the skills to thrive in coverage than they do players who can rush effectively and have experience doing so, i.e. Marquis Flowers, Taylor Mays, and Emmanuel Lamur. DiManche has the speed, burst, and experience to fill the situational pass rushing need.
As an aside, understand that combine numbers mean little when translating to NFL success, had DiManche been invited to participate at the combine he would’ve finished with exceptional numbers. Here’s a quick look.
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Jayson DiManche has done all the right things for the Bengals since making the squad in 2013. He’s worked hard, produced well, and become a key player on special teams. He’s clearly worked hard to develop as a 4-3 outside linebacker or he would’ve likely been cut as a fringe player this past year. Giving DiManche an opportunity to fill a much-needed role on this team would be the next logical step in his progression as an NFL player. This doesn’t mean the team should’ve seek help within the linebacking corps, but the Bengals may be more prudent to find a middle linebacker to complement Vontaze Burfict and the rest of the group rather than prioritize something they may already possess in Jayson DiManche.
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