Davontae Harris 151 overall
2018 CAP Hit: $549,343
Total contract value through 2021: $2.7 million
Illinois State cornerback Davontae Harris is another versatile addition through the draft for the Bengals. With the measurables to play cornerback or safety, he could find himself being a versatile key in the defense. Either position he will need some development, but that’s normally what you are looking for on the day three part of the draft.
Cincinnati is already paying premium money to the cornerback position with Dre Kirkpatrick making just over $9.5 million and Darqueze Dennard making just over $8.5 million on his fifth-year option. The Bengals made it a point to bring in playmakers that love to attack the ball this year to not only add depth to the roster but likely take over for one of these players if they cannot afford to pay them after the 2018 season.
If Dennard has another season as he did in 2017 this year, it could prove difficult for the Bengals to sign him to a long-term deal with other significant contracts looming next offseason. Finding Harris who can also contribute to special teams and play multiple positions in the defense was a good move for Cincinnati. They also had to fill the void left behind by former cornerback Adam Jones who was set to make $5.3 million in 2018.
With the money already being spent on the secondary, especially the cornerback position, Cincinnati needed to find young, cheap talent to help bolster their roster. Harris fits that mold along with the safety group and should bring versatility and playmaking abilities to both the defense and special teams.
Andrew Brown 158 overall
2018 CAP Hit: $542,644
Total contract value through 2021: $2.67 million
Virginia defensive tackle Andrew Brown will be another addition to help bolster the defensive line in 2018. Cincinnati has struggled to stop the bleed when it comes to the running game, and Brown could be a rotational piece that helps with some of that. He also has similar traits and playstyle as star defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
When Atkins comes off the field, there is a significant void left in the middle of the defensive line, and offenses take full advantage. The addition of Brown is hoped to relieve some of that void with his pass rushing abilities and ability to plug the middle in the run game. While the position next to Atkins is a mystery, even with the signings of defensive tackle Chris Baker in the offseason, Brown will likely fill the rotational spot of Atkins along the defensive line.
With contracts like Atkins and Dunlap set to expire after this season, Brown adds a cheap option in the middle to help this defensive line. Having multiple cheap young players allows for the team to spend on those significant contract extensions of high-value players while also receiving good play from the affordable options as well.
Darius Phillips 170 overall
2018 CAP Hit: $522,003
Total contract value through 2021: $2.6 million
Western Michigan cornerback Darius Phillips was my favorite player among the day three selections. There’s not a more versatile player in this Bengals draft class. Former wide receiver turned cornerback, Phillips has not only a nose for the ball, but for the end zone. Totaling 14 touchdowns between receptions, interceptions, kick returns, and punt returns, Phillips has the playmaking abilities the Bengals need.
Cincinnati expressed their desire for playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with their putrid 14 total turnovers last season. While Phillips won’t likely be a start for Cincinnati barring injuries, he is a player they look to develop into one. During his three years at cornerback for Western Michigan, Phillips totaled 12 interceptions (five returned for touchdowns), 35 pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown).
Looking at how much Cincinnati is spending at the cornerback position, they just grabbed a playmaker that loves to get after the ball for bottom dollar over the next four years. Phillips has the chance to fight for a starting spot likely in 2019 if Cincinnati cannot afford to keep all of their starting safeties. He will also contribute on special teams with his playmaking skills in the return game where he scored five touchdowns in college.