Bengals rookies: Markus Bailey will spend his first year on the practice squad
The fourth round was not the end of the Bengals dipping into the linebacker position. In the seventh round, they added one more player to the linebacker room when they selected Markus Bailey from Purdue. If it weren’t for his injury history, many believe Bailey would have gone on Day Two of the draft, making him a huge steal for a Cincinnati team that desperately needed talent at the position.
Despite his talent, it may be hard for Bailey to make the Bengals’ final roster as a rookie. Along with fifth-round pick Kareem, the seventh-rounder was added to the non-football injury list on Monday. Bailey is trying to return from a torn right ACL, which can be a long and difficult process. The 23-year-old faces the same challenges Kareem faces when he returns, those competing for roster spots will have a head start on him.
Pratt, Bynes, Wilson, and Davis-Gaither are locks to make the roster and after them, there are only one or two spots left on the roster at linebacker. Jordan Evans and Austin Calitro will both be tough competition for the former Boilermaker, as both have actual experience playing in the NFL. With Bailey’s return date uncertain, a spot on the final roster may not be in the cards for his rookie year.
Bailey is too talented to get cut, though, and he will likely be put on the practice squad. A season on the practice squad could be valuable for the rookie as he heals up and develops as a player. After a year, he should be a shoo-in to make the final roster if he can stay healthy. While he will struggle to make the final roster in his first year, Bailey is a legit dark horse candidate to start for the Bengals one day. Between three linebackers taken in Cincinnati’s 2020 draft class, the future of their unit looks good.