The Cincinnati Bengals address the need at linebacker with Texas Malik Jefferson at pick 78 in the third round.
The Cincinnati Bengals selected Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson with their third-round selection acquired in the trade from the Kansas City Chiefs at 78 overall. Jefferson has the height, weight, speed that teams are looking for in the draft at 6’2″ and 236 pounds. With linebacker Vontaze Burfict facing a four-game suspension to start the season, the Bengals needed linebacker help.
His athleticism and length could find him filling that position while Burfict is out and take over the other side possibly when Burfict comes back from suspension. Jefferson had an excellent combine to go along with his great college career with the Texas Longhorns finishing with great workouts including 27 reps on the bench press.
Jefferson will have to rely on his athleticism at the next level as he lacks instincts that would make him an earlier selection. He struggles to break down plays and recognize what is happening. This is where the Bengals will have to develop the young linebacker and get him in the film room to develop that awareness and instincts that could make him an elite linebacker.
Finishing his career with 231 tackles, 26 for a loss, 13 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 passes defended. During his senior year, Jefferson played very aggressive grabbing 110 tackles, and 4 sacks. The Bengals are wanting to become more aggressive and attacking defense and Jefferson fits that mold perfectly. Almost doubling his total tackles from the previous two years, Jefferson showed that aggressiveness that Cincinnati is looking for.
Jefferson will likely be a developmental pick that the Bengals will give a limited role his rookie season. If Cincinnati can develop the instincts in Jefferson that he lacks, he could be a top linebacker in the NFL. Relying on his athleticism will make him a good linebacker in the NFL but won’t reach his elite potential.