Cam Taylor-Britt and D.J. Turner II
Everyone in Cincinnati knows how good Chidobe Awuzie is. Yet nationally, he is not talked about as one of the best corners in the NFL. 2023 is going to be a critical year for Awuzie. He is entering the last year of his three-year contract with the club.
If Awuzie performs the way he has over the past two seasons, he could break the bank by playing well at a premium position. With many of the teams’ best players in similar contractual situations, recent cornerback draftees Cam Taylor-Britt and D.J. Turner must reach or surpass Awuzie’s status.
Taylor-Britt played well in his rookie season. It took him a few games to settle in as a starter, but once he did, he showed why the Bengals traded up in the second round in the 2022 draft to secure his services. Now in his second year, he is expected to take over as the full-time starter opposite Awuzie.
Rookie D.J. Turner II is the other corner who the team needs to be seen as a superstar by the end of the season. If Awuzie does depart via free agency in 2024, D.J. Turner is the prime candidate to start opposite Taylor-Britt next season.
Turner has all the skills to become what the Bengals need him to be. His 62.1 QB rating when targeted was on par with or better than many of the cornerbacks who went off the board before him. His 4.26 40 was the fastest at the NFL Combine, per NFL.com.
Turner can turn into a legit superstar lockdown corner type of player and the team will need him to be, especially if Awuzie walks next off-season. Let’s hope he can develop into it naturally rather than being thrown into the thick of things because of an injury like Taylor-Britt last year.
Both young corners are still on rookie contracts. They were both second-round picks meaning that the team does not have the fifth-year option at their disposal. Turner and Taylor-Britt need to become superstars quickly to help improve the defense and get a big second-contract bag.