The Cincinnati Bengals are still looking to add to their linebacker core in the 2018 draft and are meeting with Tegray Scales from Indiana.
The Cincinnati Bengals continue their pro day visits and search for another linebacker to contribute to their defense in 2018 and beyond. Linebackers coach Jim Haslett was seen at the Indiana pro day where linebacker Tegray Scales was the prime target. The Bengals have also scheduled a private workout with the Indiana linebacker.
Even with the signing of linebacker Preston Brown, the Bengals still need a linebacker that is better in coverage. Then you take in the fact that linebacker Vontaze Burfict will likely be out the first four games of the season and can see why they are still looking for help. Scales could be a mid-round selection that could help the Bengals defense with their coverage issues right away.
Since losing linebacker Rey Maualuga, Bengals linebackers have gotten torched in coverage on a consistent basis. Brown is a solid linebacker especially in run support but he’s not really anything special when it comes to his coverage. Nothing more than what the Bengals have had in years past. Scales could be a guy that comes in on obvious passing downs and nickel formations his first year while he improves his other roles.
Standing at 6’0″, 230 pounds he is undersized and would likely have to move to outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. His size and speed have him dropping down to the third and fourth round of the draft which could make him a steal for the Bengals. Regardless of his speed, he can still make plays in the backfield with 13 sacks and 36 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons at Indiana.
When it comes to the run game it seems Scales struggles against blockers that are able to quickly get to the second level. He struggled when playing the Michigan Wolverines this past year as their line would quickly get to him and initiate the contact. However, Scales did really well against Ohio State in 2016 and Penn State in 2017 who both had great run games.
Even when Penn State linemen got to the second level and got their hands on Scales he was able to continue fighting and eventually take down Barkley at the border as seen below. His ability to aggressively take on the blocker, keep his eyes on running back Saquon Barkley who’s the best back in this years class, and force the third-down stop.
His awareness and great angles to the ball carrier make up for his lack of speed. Even when maneuvering around blockers he is able to take a good angle to the ball carrier and make a play. Scales doesn’t always line up as an inside linebacker though. There were times in some of the games I watched where he would line up on the edge and blitz.
Ohio State center Billy Price tries to pull here and take on Scales but ends up getting left in the dust. Scales starts outside then shifts back in while getting his hand up to knock the pass down. While he was able to make plays in the backfield, Scales most consistent production was his pass coverage.
Scales is highly intelligent and his instincts are off the charts. He knows where to be at all times and you will often see him around the ball on a play to play basis. It’s obvious the senior watches an incredible amount of film with how fast he diagnoses plays and puts himself in position to succeed. On this play below, Scales’ assignment is to cover the running back coming out of the backfield. He allows some space to make him look open while keeping his eyes on the quarterback and as the quarterback sets up to throw, Scales pounces on the running back for a very minimal gain.
His abilities on the field show up clearly on film but all of his coaches and teammates rave about not only his intelligence but his leadership in the locker room. After deciding to return to Indiana for his senior year following an incredible year in 2016, he took on a new role in a new system with the coaching changes. Coach Tom Allen praised the young linebacker on his abilities not just on but off the field.
"“Having Tegray back with us is huge. He was the catalyst for our defense, not only on the field in his production, but really in the very beginning, when I got here, and I challenged our team to make changes in their mentality and the way they prepared, he’s been bought in from day one.”Next: Arkansas center Frank Ragnow film reviewEven adjusting to a new system in his senior year under Tom Allen, Scales had another good year for Indiana. He showed that he can play in multiple different schemes and still be successful which is very highly regarded at the next level. His versatility is something of a new breed of linebackers in today’s NFL and while he might not go until the third or fourth round, he could be a very high potential for a team willing to put in the legwork. “Having Tegray back with us is huge. He was the catalyst for our defense, not only on the field in his production, but really in the very beginning, when I got here, and I challenged our team to make changes in their mentality and the way they prepared, he’s been bought in from day one.”"