Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley may not have heard his name called during the 2018 NFL Draft, but he was excited to join the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley not hearing his name during the 2018 NFL Draft was a surprise to even some of the top analysts. However, it didn’t take long for Worley to make a decision on where he would sign as a UDFA. Worley chose the Cincinnati Bengals for many reasons over other offers and is the highest paid rookie free agent earning around $13,000.
If the Bengals hadn’t picked up Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson in the third-round, I had Worley on my board for the Bengals in the fifth or sixth round of the draft. Worley’s athleticism and instincts are a major reason why Cincinnati made it a point to bring him in following the end of the draft. But what made Worley choose the Bengals?
Cincinnati showed strong interest in Worley during the draft process having him in for a visit and sending linebacker coach Jim Haslett to his pro day. These were big reasons why Worley chose to try out for the Bengals, other than the fact that they are a team he cheered for early on. The Bengals are really interested in his coverage skills and his ability to play on special teams.
"“I had a bunch of offers. A lot of people started hitting me up around the fifth round. I probably had about 10 to 12 teams call me and tell me they wanted me to come there….dwindled it down to about three, then I just started to weigh my options, taking into consideration what would be the best fit for me…going to team needs, schematic things…Coach Haslett was real big throughout my process, keeping in contact with me…some teams they never showed up to pro day, never talked to you, they just want you to fill a need for a camp spot…I’m here trying to make a team.”"
Cincinnati has praised Worley after the signing and brought up how great Bengals linebackers like Vincent Rey and Vontaze Burfict came in as undrafted free agents. Much like Jefferson, I think that Worley will play a specific role in the defense instead of every down linebacker. He has great instincts and athleticism to go along with his coverage skills, but his smaller build could keep him to third-down and passing situations early on.
Worley is one of my top picks of UDFA’s that have the biggest possibility to make the 53 man roster. He will have a lot to prove with the already deep linebacker room, but this kid is someone that the Bengals were really interested in. Even Cincinnati’s first-round pick Billy Price had great things to say about his fellow Ohio State teammate.
"“Tough. Hard-nosed. High motor,” said Billy Price, the Ohio State center the Bengals took in the first round when asked for a scouting report. “Smaller guy. Especially when you look at linebackers, but a guy who gives you his all. One of these pesky linebackers who just keeps coming back. I’m glad he’s on my side.”"
Cincinnati still has young, untapped potential in the linebacking core like Brandon Bell, Jordan Evans, and Nick Vigil. If the Bengals want to add Worley to the roster they will have to make a cut somewhere in the group. Proving himself on special teams will go a long way to getting that spot. I expect Worley to give the linebacker room a strong fight to make the roster in 2018.