Improving the defense through the draft
The AFC North is an extremely tough division, and the Bengals coaching staff realizes this better than anyone. To make your mark in the division, you have to have a rock-solid defense. Ranking fifth in the league last season, the Bengals looked to improve their defense by taking five out of six players on the defensive side of the ball.
Anarumo was mainly looking for two traits from this draft class: speed and versatility. He found that in all five of his draft selections.
First-round pick Daxton Hill out of Michigan is an effective defensive back who has taken snaps at safety, outside corner, and slot corner. Since veteran safety Jessie Bates was placed on the franchise tag, his long-term future with the team is uncertain. Hill has taken his snaps at camp, which has provided an excellent opportunity for the young back.
Second-round pick Cam Tayor-Britt was selected for his speed and athletic ability. Drafted out of Nebraska, Taylor-Britt offers plenty of speed and explosion to push veteran cornerback Eli Apple for a starting position. They selected defense back Tycen Anderson from Toledo in the fifth round, which certainly adds depth to the secondary.
Coach Taylor’s team went 4-11 in 2020 mainly due to a depleted defensive line, so in the next draft, he selected defensive players Joseph Ossai, Cameron Sample, and Tyler Shelvin. Taylor again looked to beef up his defensive line in this draft, especially after losing Ogunjobi to free agency.
The Bengals selected Florida’s defensive lineman Zachary Carter with the draft’s third pick to add to defensive line depth. He had 32 tackles, 11 for loss, and eight sacks for the Gators last season. Add Coastal Carolina’s pass rusher Jerry Gunter who had 41 tackles, 10 for loss, and 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season, giving the Bengals line the potential to be unrelenting.