Cornerbacks for Bengals to Watch – No. 1: Kyler Gordon (Washington)
The future of NFL defenses is multiplicity. Having players who can play in a range of positions helps to stymie the modern offenses that are so heavily built around speed. Players like Isaiah Simmons have become heralded as they can blitz, cover and tackle.
The Bengals have sought to add players who can be more versatile. Akeem Davis-Gaither is a linebacker whose speed allows him to drop and cover running backs and tight ends and Ricardo Allen comes from Atlanta having played slot and safety.
Washington’s Kyler Gordon is one such player who can fill a number of roles on defense. In 2020, he predominantly played in a cornerback role but split his snaps almost equally between the slot and outside. Not only that but he also featured along the defensive line and in the box. In both pass coverage and run defense, he graded above average according to PFF.
On film, it is clear why Gordon was utilized as an outside corner at times. He has super-quick feet and an excellent backpedal. Measuring at 6’0″, he has the speed to be strong in mirror coverage while being physical in the tackle.
With the Huskies having a shortened four-game season last year, Gordon’s role is set to become clearer in 2021. While he is penciled in at cornerback he should get an opportunity to show his full range of abilities in a defense with numerous playmakers. Even if the Bengals don’t view him as a starting NFL corner he would be an interesting chess piece on a young, developing defense.
Key games to watch in 2021: Michigan on September 11 (vs Ronnie Bell), Oregon on November 6 (vs Jaylon Redd), Arizona State on November 13 (vs Bryan Thompson)
The Bengals are going to be in a situation where they need to draft a cornerback next year. These four players are realistic options for Cincinnati and could be a great fit in this secondary.