Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Paul Dawson (47) during the game against the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals continued to get their 2015 rookie class under contract today by signing both of their fourth round selections, defensive back Josh Shaw and defensive lineman Marcus Hardison, and their second of two third round selections, linebacker Paul Dawson.
The Bengals may have secured the future of their defense when drafting these three players in the middle rounds of the draft. Former Horned Frog linebacker Paul Dawson has been billed as a Vontaze Burfict clone, which speaks volumes about his potential. His elite awareness and instincts should allow him to make plays all over the field and bolster the team’s linebacker unit, which prior to the draft needed another versatile contributor. Dawson projects as a WILL backer, but his talent should allow him to play any position and eventually turn into a three-down player.
In the fourth round, the Bengals bolstered the defense’s other two unit. Josh Shaw is a versatile defensive back who can function both as a cornerback and safety. His blend of great size and athleticism should turn him into a quality player for the team and possibly a long-term starter in a year or two.
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Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison continued the Bengals trend of grabbing versatile players. Hardison can play all across the defensive line, though projects best as an interior pass rusher. He reminds me a lot of current Bengal Wallace Gilberry in this way. Despite playing at about 300 pounds, Hardison often lined up as a defensive end while at Arizona State. Being as productive as Hardison was while playing out of position offers great intrigue regarding his potential going forward.