The Cincinnati Bengals made it a point to bring versatility to the roster in the 2018 NFL Draft. How do we feel about their draft class?
In the very first episode of the Stripe Hype podcast, we discuss the Cincinnati Bengals 2018 rookie class. The team made it a point to bring some versatility to the roster this year, and it could pay off big in the 2018 season. It began when the Bengals selected Ohio State center Billy Price with their first-round pick. Price played three years at guard before moving to center in his senior season with Ohio State. This gives Cincinnati some versatility along the offensive line with Price’s ability to move from center to guard if needed in the future.
The club continued into day two of the draft by selecting Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates. During his two seasons starting for Wake Forest, Bates played both safety positions and slot cornerback. His versatility will give new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin some room to move around his safeties in three safety sets. These sets are becoming very popular in the NFL as the league moves to a pass-heavy league. Bates will allow safeties to drop down into the box and coverage on the outside. Considering the trouble Cincinnati has had with linebackers in coverage, this could be a huge gain.
With the Bengals first pick in the third round, the team selected Ohio State defensive end, Sam Hubbard. His experience at defensive end and defensive tackle are just the beginning of his experience. The former Lacrosse player has also been tested at safety and linebacker while at Ohio State giving him knowledge of the entire defensive structure.
Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson is another player who has played both inside and outside linebacker in college. Jefferson has incredible speed running a 4.5 40-yard dash while weighing 240 pounds. Likely to play outside linebacker early in his career, he can develop some instincts that could push him inside in some packages. He will also likely be a significant contributor on special teams in 2018.
Other players that the Bengals selected like cornerbacks Darius Phillips and Davonte Harris have experience at multiple positions and kick returning. Mark Walton is another name that pops up in special teams abilities while also having hands like a wide receiver coming out of the backfield. It seems the Bengals have set themselves up for not only a winning season in the future but to find a spot for each of these players to contribute this season.