The Cincinnati Bengals have signed three more draft picks to their rookie deals including Jessie Bates, Darius Phillips, and Mark Walton.
It was a busy weekend for the Cincinnati Bengals and their 2018 rookie class as they started their rookie minicamps on Friday afternoon. Even with everything going on during the minicamps, Cincinnati found the time to sign three more of their draft picks to their rookie contracts. These deals include safety Jessie Bates, cornerback Darius Phillips, and running back Mark Walton.
All three of these rookies will likely play some kind of role for the Bengals right away. Former Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates will likely have the most significant impact in the 2018 season. Only starting for two years in college, Bates proved his versatility and ability to be a playmaker. Totaling 179 total tackles including 9.5 for a loss, six interceptions, nine pass deflections, and two forced fumbles in those two years making Bengals fans excited to see what they will get out of their rookie safety.
Cincinnati will be able to run more three-safety sets in 2018 due to the drafting of Bates. Safeties Shawn Williams and George Iloka will likely be moving around the defense this season under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. After only forcing 14 turnovers (11 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries) in 2017, Cincinnati looks to bring more turnovers this season and Bates will play a big role in making that happen.
Cornerback Darius Phillips started out as a wide receiver in college and then made the change to cornerback. He was also a big part of Western Michigan’s special team’s return game as well. Totaling 14 touchdowns between interceptions returned for touchdowns (5) kick returns (5), punt returns (1), fumble recoveries (1), and receiving (2). Phillips will bring versatility on both defense and the return game for the Bengals.
Running back Mark Walton would have been an early round pick likely if it wasn’t for a season-ending injury last year. Averaging 7.6 yards per carry before his injury in the fourth game of the season, Walton was a big weapon in the Miami offense not only in the rushing game but the passing game. His best season came in 2016 when he ran for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns while also catching 27 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown.
The only remaining rookies yet to sign their rookie contracts with the Bengals are first-round pick Billy Price, third-round pick Sam Hubbard, third-round pick Malik Jefferson, and seventh-round pick Auden Tate. There is still plenty of time for Cincinnati and their rookies to agree to their rookie contracts and without any bigtime playmakers, there is little to negotiate when it comes to money.