Every offseason, we start to hear about undrafted rookie free agents who sneak into the fans’ consciousness. Here are four UDFAs from this year's class that will have Cincinnati Bengals fans buzzing in 2023.
Shaka Heyward, Duke
Bengals fans are in for an absolute treat when they get to know Duke linebacker, Shaka Heyward. Wow!
Heyward is an incredible, fast, hard-hitting middle backer who plays sideline to sideline with incredible instincts.
Heyward is a do-it-all type of linebacker. He plays well versus the run, using his instincts to come up and smack running backs at full speed.
Another more underrated, yet equally impressive part of his play is how well he sheds blocks. He can rush the passer as well, giving offensive linemen fits on his way. Hopefully, the former Blue Devil can convert some of his pressures in college into sacks in the NFL.
Heyward is also a competent defender in pass defense. While he can do it, his game is not best suited for running with tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. He appears to be at his best when attacking horizontally and straight ahead rather than down the seams.
Nevertheless, when called upon to cover, he can get the job done.
As far as comps go, Heyward plays in a style that resembles Germaine Pratt more than Logan Wilson.
Heyward finished last season with 93 total tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. This season, he starts with a chance and that’s all he needs.